From the time [S] awoke to now, her bedtime, she has been, at various times, tired, fussy, frustrated, and angry. Indeed, I’ve been listening to a variation of, “Mommy, no! No! No! No, Mommy!” for the past 15 minutes. For the better part of the day, [S] assaulted our senses with an assortment of high-pitched yelling, deafening crying, and stern scolding. Her conduct, whether part and parcel of the terrible two’s or growing pains, is challenging. Do I try to comfort her yet again or do I let her cry it out in a safe space?
Fortunately for me, [S] wanted her Father most of the day. She wanted his arms to hold her. She wanted his hands to prepare her meals. She wanted his lap to sit on. She wanted his time and attention. “No, Mommy. Daddy. Daddy, help. Daddy, do it.” Those words were music to my ears. Truly.
In response, Russell built forts for [S] to hide under, made her a peanut butter and jam sandwich accompanied by apple sticks and yogurt for dipping, changed her diapers, and allowed her to join our cocktail hour with diluted juice and a [S]-sized plate of crackers.
I was in awe of my Husband today. His endless patience. His small, kind gestures. His understanding of [S]’s wants and needs. His tolerance of her tantrums. I should not be surprised by his generosity of spirit, after all, that is why I married him. But watching him today, I was reminded of my Father interacting with me. That was a different time with different gender norms, to be certain. Nevertheless, my Father took the time. He indulged my imagination, be it speaking on the phone with my imaginary friend or letting me dream of what I would be when I grew up. He spoke to me about matters of significance. He listened. He played. He taught. He coached. He let me know that I was part of him.
As a result, I knew my worth. I was secure in his love. And I searched for a partner who would prove to be a loving, kind and patient father to our children. Despite several fits and starts, I found him. Today, each time [S] asked for Russell, he responded, “[S], it’s Father’s Day, what a great gift you’re giving me.”
My Father will not be surprised by the words written on this page. He will not be in awe of Russell’s deep well of patience and tolerance. He will not be inspired by how much Russell adores [S]. Rather, I predict my Father will nod, silently acknowledging his son-in-law’s strength and ability to love both deeply and unconditionally. After all, my Father knows what it takes to love his daughter.
Happy Father’s Day, Russell. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.