Due to our need to get the hell outta dodge, I missed addressing this on Father’s Day. But with the 34th anniversary of his birth upon us, I feel compelled to share why my husband was just the man to raise three little women, and what other men in his situation can gain from his approach.
I have known this gentleman for 14 years. I know what he’s thinking. I know what he’s going to say before he parts his lips. But I never knew what immeasurable, drunken joy looked like on him until I saw him lock eyes on JoJo the day she was born. I remember lying there, watching him dance between me and her … all pink and screaming and deliciously ours. A light came on in him that only fatherhood could spark. I saw it again when we had Spikey. And again with Sloppy Joan. Every time they do something endearing, I immediately turn to catch that organic moment on his face; that glimmer he gets only for his girls. It’s a certain smile and a sparkle, like his love for them is reflected back and captured in his eyes. As much as I relish these sweet glances, I know the chicks do just as much. They feel adored and accepted and encouraged to keep being themselves. When someone genuinely rejoices in your unbridled spirit, it puts wind in your wings. It makes them feel like they can soar.
Look adoringly upon your daughters.
Given the choice of a baby blue toothbrush or powder pink, my husband will opt for the blushing brush. Why? Because he has embraced the company he keeps. He often jokes about how he’s taken to calling things, “cute,” the designated adjective in our dwelling. It’s not his fault, really. I used to work with this sweet young thing who said, “Gosh,” at the beginning of every sentence. “Gosh, Kate Middleton is the cutest.” “Gosh, I really want a juice cleanse.” “Gosh, Spike is seriously so funny.” And before you knew it, bing! bang! boom! “Gosh,” was part of my vernacular. It’s subliminal advertising more than a sign of meager manhood. But I appreciate that he’s all-in. He’s unapologetic. He is a grown-ass man who can paint some tiny nails and do a french braid like a boss and who says, “cute” … a lot. And, gosh, it’s so dang endearing.
a pile of patience.
God love this man and the patient soul he was given. I run at a very different pace and, unfortunately, there are times when I get caught up in the bullet points of my to-do list at the expense of the beautiful little faces behind the bullet points (a post for another time). But Henry takes the extra time. His watch stops for the small things and it’s a blessing to our babies.
high marks in the all-around.
It’s important to Hank that the girls be confident, well-rounded and adventurous. He thinks about what he wants to show them, and he always has their character at the heart of his plans. People have said, “He needs his boy.” But that’s kind of crap. He doesn’t need a boy to have someone to share interests or pass on the lessons his father taught him. JoJo, we’ve learned, likes to garden, fish and hike. Spike, likes mowing the yard and olives (their things right now). He curates theses special experiences based on the knowledge he has to share, the little people he sees in them and the women he hopes they’ll be someday. He respects their individuality, never limits them based on gender and makes them feel like he can teach them anything. It’s empowering and, while they will probably never be avid hunters or throw the winning pass at a Friday night football game, the book is never totally closed on a path they want to explore.
Every home becomes a machine, with different people maintaining the function and feelings of the people and things that reside within the walls through different roles and reactions. As the sole man of the house, Hank’s roles cover a vast territory. He is the protector and the powerhouse. The mover of all heavy things. But, because his wife is, well, me, he is also by default the cleaner of all vomit and assessor of all wounds. Every crash, every splinter, every [gag] tick, is directly elevated to daddy’s attention. He always picks the right bandage, has the words to calm their hysteria and bears the blood and snot stains to prove his medical savvy. Every house needs a tough guy when the bike brakes fail and skulls collide, and he is certainly ours.
I know quite a few daddies who have been blessed with little women, exclusively. They all have these traits and more, and savor the gift they’ve been given. It takes a special guy to man up to the challenge of raising, not just girls, but strong, confident, capable girls. I tip my hat to my babies’ daddy and to all the fellas doing their part to make the next generation of gals fierce and freaking awesome.