For a ten year old, it made sense. You know there is a difference between the two, just not at the level you do as you get older – and see the difference not only in your friends’ dads, but in your friends as fathers or coworkers.
My dad loved being a dad. I use the past tense because as an adult, the meaning of dad changes a bit. But as a kid, he was the best. We played catch for hours in the front yard. When it was not with a baseball or softball, it was our never ending game of keep away with a Nerf football. Hours we would play this game – a game that was usually broken up with laughter that stopped us from being able to stand up straight, or a stop in the action as we problem solved how to get the football out of the tree.
When I was in college, he would – by himself – drive 5 hours to see my softball games. Then drive 5 hours back afterward. Ten hours in the car to see my 90 minute game. My senior year of college, I don’t think he missed but one home game. That is a dad.
As I’ve told my siblings, the man was far from perfect. But his kids are all proof that he instilled values in us that make us contributing members of society, good spouses, and good parents. These measures of success kind of pushes his imperfects aside as a man and as a parent.
My own husband is a great example of this too. I remember that day when DJ was born – and then Indigo – this man with baby in arms tears running down his face as he cuddled his daughter right after they were each born. I remember how excited he was when they were babies to have them all to himself over the summer – being a full-time dad. And he did have fun as did they. His favorite part was napping with them. Even today, he has two willing napping partners on a rainy Sunday. And nine times out of ten, you will find they fell asleep holding hands just like they would when they were really little.
He has Indigo who wants to help him fix his bus. He has DJ who wants to raid his graphic novels. What did they do Friday on their first day together on Summer Vacation? Breakfast at Denny’s – their annual tradition. I love how they have their little things with him. And just like my dad did with my softball games, he has come back from overnight field trips to see DJ perform in something – just to head back. He has had a teacher fill in for him during school so he could attend a play that Indigo’s class was doing. He’s a good dad.
And I know other good dad’s too. Men who demonstrate daily the difference between being a father and a dad. I know I’ve mentioned it over and over and over again if you haven’t picked it up – but TL is a great dad. I am in awe of how he manages to be everywhere as a solo parent – and still work 40+ (heavy emphasis on the +) hours a week. He loves his kids – and it is clear with all he does for them and says about them. I love seeing that – hearing his concerns – hearing the pride in his voice as he talks about them.
There are others in my life that demonstrate on a daily basis the difference between being a father to a child versus a dad. My little brother who has all but adopted his step daughter as his own. SG who is dad to his own son, his step sons and his son’s half brother. Domenico who speaks of his daughter with so much pride it makes me smile. And I know there are many others – too many to list in this post. And trust me, I considered doing it.
So to all the men that are a dad to their kids:
May you all get breakfast in bed, the tacky tie, good sex, a phone call home from far away kids, a nap while watching whatever sport you choose, and the love of your kids.
PS: And to all of the moms who are both mom and dad to your kids because the “father” will not engage or is not around like they should be – Happy Dad’s Day too. I am a firm believer that the solo parent who has this duty gets both days thanks to the absent other parent – Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.