To the Father and the Man

I see it in your eyes. The pressure. Never-ending. A family. A wife. Children. We are all yours. We are you and you are us. And you live for us. Always. You work. And you come home and work some more. You love when you are on empty. You cope when you no longer can. You walk through the door exhausted and bedraggled. And you live for your family. YOU. You are in my heart and I am in yours. And our children are in both.

What would they be without a father? Without an anchor? Without smiles and giggling and wrestling and protection and integrity and honor and a real example of how to live and love hard? What would they do without the love of a father that requires them to become and not just be?  YOU. You are this to them. You are something I cannot be to them. And I am something I cannot be without you.

You show them love in word and also in deed. You show them love when you love me. You show them love when you hold them accountable for their actions. You show them love when you make them work, and also when you require kindness; when you let them cry and then make them stand tall. You show them power when you are humble and humility when you struggle.

A husband. A father. A provider. A lover. A protector. So many hats. And you wear them all. I see each one in your eyes. Each one fighting to step up. I see your fear—fear that you’ll fail. But it is the fear that makes you succeed. And it is the fear that gives you away. It means you care. It means you are IN. You are committed. And though not perfect, you are just what we need. Imperfection garners strength because you have to keep striving. And you do, always. For me. For them. In the name of family and honor. This commitment and striving is a lost endeavor for many fathers—mere boys trapped in men’s bodies that don’t deserve any title beyond self.

But you do live up to the title. And because of this one role—FATHER—you have become so much of the rest. Being a father requires you stop living to sustain you, but rather, to sustain others. And in giving up yourself, you have become someone better. Your children and their never-ending needs, demands, innocence, and trust, have helped you become a better husband. And that is why I chose well…..because you let them teach you.

Our children have taught you passion and compassion. They have demanded you know that they matter more than almost anything or anyone else. They have refined you. And you have allowed it. And I get to reap the benefits. I married you because you were my prince. But fatherhood has made you my man. It has chiseled away your rough edges and made you smooth. Now you are becoming my chiseled masterpiece, with gifts of dedication and sacrifice rolling across your smooth surface with far greater ease. And it’s these gifts of character that make you a man.

You may not think I’m watching. But I am. I see your purposeful smile to the children as you choke down the burnt edges of my experimental casserole. I hear their squeals of delight as you pretend to be a dinosaur when you are supposed to be putting them to bed. I feel your hand squeeze mine as you choose to not answer the phone when we are talking. I see your arms fly out as our toddler approaches the middle of the road. I notice the purposefully kind things you say to our children about me whenever you have the chance. My heart soars as you fall to your knees to seek strength beyond your own in this never-ending quest of being a father and becoming a man.

Yes, I notice. And the children notice. Everything. They follow and I follow. Never stop. Never stop giving and striving and fighting. Never stop lavishing your love. Because we will never stop demanding it. We will never stop embracing. We will never stop giving our hearts.  Always and forever...the father of our children and my man.