Saturday, June 20, 2009

Some Fathers do know Best

I knew within a nano-second of meeting my husband that he was perfect father material. I'm not even sure it was anything he said in particular, it was more to do with his calm demeanor and nurturing qualities that were the dead giveaway. Over time I would come to learn he had a great relationship with his mother, was a caring brother and supported a foster child in a third world country. All pretty good clues to his character and potential abilities to succeed at child-rearing. His first marriage did not bear fruit in that department (thank god - no baggage I thought) and he was at an age where he doubted fatherhood would ever be a role in life for him. When we met, that all changed. As my first marriage had collapsed as well before the arrival of dependents, we were both thankful we had met someone with hopes of raising a family. It wasn't too late. The road to popping out our precious princess was fraught with challenges and disappointments, but eventually we succeeded and since that day, Doug has never changed her position from the number one spot on his priority list. There's not a deadbeat dad in the world that could not benefit from his example. So listen up. For starters, he has always been completely hands-on. Where my own father never changed a stinky diaper in his life, Doug changed hundreds, maybe thousands. It was his turn at night - I had done it all day - why not? He had no aversion to mopping up puke or spilled milk, bandaging boo-boos or getting up in the middle of the night. I was lucky. God knows if his breasts could lactate, he would have pinch hit for me there too. He loved to pop out on his lunch break at work and shop for cute little dresses for her. He even chose her Christening dress from a very expensive exclusive shop and surprised me with his choice. It was beautiful (and I never would have spent so much). He got completely involved in the decorating of her nursery. I had an idea to create an English Garden (we knew it was a girl) and he painstakingly made and painted countless little wooden pickets to mount around the perimeter of her room. I added painted flowers spilling over the fence and stenciled bumble bees and butterflies in random spots hovering above the gently spiked fence posts (no sharp edges for delicate little fingers). I had decided I only wanted stuffed animals that would naturally appear in the forest (in keeping with the theme), so he came home one day with a bunny, another day with a skunk, and yet another with Bambi. When I just couldn't bear to read "Spot bakes a Cake" one more time, he would take over no matter how tired he was and how long his day had been. Bedtime was one of her favorite parts of the day, I'm sure. She loved being read to and we both did our share and our own versions of the stories much to her delight. As the years have passed, he has taught her to swim like a fish, catch and hit a baseball, swing a tennis racquet, putt a golf ball and bake a cake. He has tutored her in math and science, shown her how to read the stock report, manage her money, value a dollar, encouraged her to do her best always and spent countless hours talking to her and taking her out on "daddy/daughter dates." He makes an effort to include her opinions and thoughts on all decisions affecting the family. She gets a say, but doesn't always win, just like in real life. As role models go, the boys and men in her future will have to work hard to compete or measure up. Now that she is a young woman, she is still open with him. From what I hear, this is not so common. She cautiously feels him out to see if he flinches if she mentions her crushes but feels safe to tell him about them. She relies on his expertise (reluctantly sometimes) for advice. He is her rock, her constant. She turns to me and rolls her eyes when he says things she thinks are lame or corny, but would miss his ramblings if they weren't uttered so regularly. He never shys away from telling her she is smart, capable, pretty and loved. As daughters go, she is no doubt fortunate to have him as her father. So tomorrow when she presents him with a funny card, a round of golf and 24 new Calloway balls, he can rest assured he deserves her gifts, even though it's always made clear it is she who is his gift. Happy Father's Day to all the dad's who deserve it. You know who you are.

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