Staring out at the Crescent Hotel and the high rises in uptown Dallas, it occurred to me again what a fabulous husband I have. I was standing in his new cubicle office, one I hadn’t seen since his recent promotion. Dennis works so hard for us, so hard that I get to work part-time at a library, pretty much my dream job, and be a full-time parent the rest of the time.
The odd thing is I frequently completely forget my husband has a life outside our house. I know he leaves every morning and comes home dressed in clothes that are way too nice to wear to the park, but I don’t fully appreciate that he gets out of bed every morning and takes advantage of every opportunity the Lord has given him to provide for us. He commutes; he works 10 hour days, though his schedule is awesome because the time off is amazing; he has this whole other pile of issues waiting for him to deal with at work. I have grown accustomed to just seeing him as a dad.
Dennis is a full-time parent. When he comes home I am sometimes already at work leaving only notes behind about the status of every one’s vitamins, moods, poops, and temperaments. He does the rest. When I arrive home from work, both my little loves are asleep with their baths taken, hair brushed, and stories of adventures with Dad running through their heads. Dennis takes them to the pool, the park, the mall, for walks, wherever he thinks they’ll have fun. He makes them Batman and Flash masks and videos them
running up and down the hall like superheroes. He reads them Bible stories and says their prayers with them before bed.
When we’re both home, he is just as involved, just as full-time. And honestly, I think the fact that he is so on all the time makes me forget how hard my life would be if he wasn’t.
I have high expectations for fathers because I have a great one. So many things that Dennis does don’t always register as awesome the way they should because I grew up with a dad who believed in full-time parenting as well. My dad came to every Donuts for Dad we had at school; he didn’t miss a field day. He has videos of pretty much every dance recital, drill team competition, piano recital, everything we ever did. My dad spent a night sleeping under my crib so I would stay asleep(I was a bit of a high maintenance sleeper, which may be why my kids don’t give me a break in the sleep department until well past their one year birthday).
The gift I hope I can pass on from my father to my kids is the gift of being there, being present and available. Even now that the dance recitals and field days are over for me, my dad has never stopped letting me know
he’s here. This was illustrated best when Sammy was in the hospital at 10-days-old fighting pneumonia. My dad and stepmom were there the morning after he was admitted and the only question they had was: What do you need us to do? I have no doubt if I had said, “Go clean my toilets” they would have done it. Instead, they juggled keeping Wren entertained and calm while Dennis and I stayed at the hospital. They came to the hospital to offer me rest when someone else was with Wren. My dad just sat and held Sammy for hours, and it was the only time that whole day Sammy calmed down enough to sleep and stop fighting all the tubes running in his little body.
The next weekend, my heart leapt when I saw my Dad and Judy come through the door. We were nine days into an 11 day stay in the PICU at Children’s. Dennis and I split our time between home and hospital, with me staying at the hospital nightly just in case the feeding tube was removed and I could breastfeed again and just to make sure Sammy was okay. The feeling that came over me just seeing my dad at the door reminded me of being a kid again: my dad’s here, everything will be okay now. The three of us shared
the couch bed and recliners, took shifts with Sammy and shifts sleeping. I took showers, a luxury at that point.
It didn’t occur to me until later the personal hell my dad must have been going through: a grandson with pneumonia, watching Dennis and I suffer while Wren struggled with her own confused emotions. He stayed strong for us offering a calm to the situation. We’ve talked about it since, and I think we always will. It was a traumatic unforgettable time, but there were glimpses of good and so many of those came when my dad was there.
As is true with Dennis, I have gotten rather used to this behavior, so much that I take it for granted daily. So thank you to my dad for being the kind of dad I need and to the father of my children for being the kind of dad they need. The importance of what you do is not recognized enough, and the thanks you receive can never repay all you give.