I have always had a pretty clear idea of what it means to be a great Dad. I grew up with one of the best, and his model was always there for me to see.
When my own kids were little, though, I think that I took their father very much for granted. He was always there, always involved in every aspect of their lives, always my partner. He did laundry. He shopped. He never hesitated to cope with the dirtiest of diapers or the worst midnight vomit eruptions. He never made a fuss; he just quietly did what needed to be done.
Our kids always took Paul’s love and support as simply a part of the fabric of their lives. They didn’t ever question that love or worry that it might go away or somehow become less. He was just there; he was Dad.
The sun rose in the sky, the earth turned and Dad was always there to help and guide in his understated way.
It wasn’t until all three of our children had grown up and moved out that I think they began to understand the depth of what their father has always given to them. They started to realize what it takes to be a father; what it takes to be that man who is the foundation of his children’s life.
I remember one particular moment, when our youngest child had a revelation about his Dad. Tim had come home from college for a weekend, and was pouring himself a glass of orange juice. He made a little sound, and said, “Huh. Why is there pulp in this juice?” I answered, “Because Dad likes his juice with pulp.”
Tim stood still, the carton in his hand, his green eyes wide. I saw him thinking it over, and knew the moment when he understood. “You mean, all these years, we had juice with no pulp just because we kids didn’t like it? Dad never had the kind of juice he likes, for all these years?”
He was astounded, but I know that he wasn’t surprised.
I wanted to tell him that a father’s love comes with much bigger sacrifices than this one, but in a way, it was the power of all of the tiny actions that really define what it is to love your child.
Paul didn’t just teach our kids to drive; he taught them to check the oil and change a flat. He didn’t just give them an allowance, he taught them about saving and about credit cards and always paying yourself first. He didn’t only read them books at night, he stayed in the room until they were safely asleep.
And he didn’t ever tell them that he was quietly giving up the pulp in his morning juice, just for them.
Happy Father’s Day, Paul!