A father is one who conceives a child. That's the easy and fun part. Turn on any daytime talk show on any given day and you'll hear at some point in the show, the host's announcement of "You ARE the father." But usually those who are receiving that announcement are only getting the confirmation that they have made a child, and they have yet to be more than a father and to be a dad.
But what makes a father a dad? A dad is there when the baby smells like powder. A dad is there when the baby doesn't smell so nice. A dad is there when his child begins to eat real food. A dad is there when his child throws it all up. A dad is there when his child is healthy. A dad is there when his child is covered in chicken pox or up all night with a bad cough. A dad is there when his child learns to ride a bike. A dad is there when his child falls off that bike and is crying because of skinned knees. A dad is there when his child comes home from school with smiley faces and "A's" on his or her homework. A dad is there when his child comes home with his or her first "F". A dad is there for the parent-teacher conferences where the teacher raves about what a great student and child he or she is. A dad is there for the conferences that don't go quite so well. A dad rejoices with his child when he or she gets the winning run, the winning goal or the winning touchdown. A dad comforts his child when he or she misses the catch or the pass and feels like a failure. A dad is there when his child gets his or her license. A dad is there when that same child gets his or her first speeding ticket or is in an accident. A dad is there for the school dances, the first boy or girlfriend, the first date, the graduation, the first job, the wedding, the birth of a grandchild, the joys, the tears, the ups, the downs.
A stepfather is one who marries a woman who already has a child with another. He becomes the stepfather to that child. Sometimes this is a very sticky situation for the stepfather. His stepchild already has a father. If the father is involved in the child's life, it can be tough on the stepfather who is with the child every day and is many times "the everyday father". However, some fathers don't appreciate the difficult role of the stepfather and don't understand that the stepfather is also now in a parenting role of his child. But the stepfather loves the mother and wants to help her by helping to take care of her child, loving, providing and disciplining. A good father and a good stepfather are good dads and good stepdads when they realize that they are co-parenting, not trying to take one job away from the other, but simply just another parent who loves the child. And a child can never have enough love. Stepdads are there for all the times that the dad is there, and they love that child as their own. And the dad should get that and appreciate the assistance. My husband and I married when my son was 7, and there have been many times that my son's father has said that he appreciates my husband and is thankful for him being there for his son, and for that we are all fortunate in that we can see the bigger picture of working together as parents. My husband and I have 2 children together, and he loves all 3 of my children the same, as if they were all 3 his own. He provides and cares for them and is there for all of the above occasions. Next Sunday we will celebrate Father's Day, and they will both be there, my son's father with his own family, and my husband with us. Co-parenting for the greater good of the child...because he is loved by both his dads.
My thoughts today are also with the dads who are parenting alone, whether by choice or not by choice. I think in particular of two very special dads who lost their wives, the mothers of their children. These dads have had to become both mother and father and have worked hard to make the transition as smooth as possible for their children, by keeping their schedules, their activities and their hopes and dreams going. Through their own grief and their own tears, they have devoted their lives to continue the parenting plan they had made with their wives for the children and to ensure that their children still have plenty of reasons every day to smile and laugh. God bless you for all that you dads do.
So today I would like to honor the fathers who are dads, the stepfathers who are stepdads and the fathers who have the very tough job of being moms and dads. I would like to honor my dad who has always been there, when I've made him happy and when I've disappointed him. I knew he loved me the same during both of those times, and I never doubted his love, his support and his prayers for me. I would like to honor my son's dad for loving him enough to share him with my husband. I would like to honor my husband who I respect and admire every day for the gentle and quiet ways he shows his love and care for our children, all 3 of them.
Happy Father's Day to all you DADS for all you do and all you are!