What Makes a Great Dad: A Letter to Your Husband

D

ear Father of our Babies,

To be honest with you, I fell in love with you when you were laying in a hospital bed with your arm around another girl.

She was curled into your shoulder and you were stroking her hair off her forehead and I’d have to be blind to not see how smitten you were with her.

I couldn’t have loved you more.

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For five days, five nights, after what turned out to be her third open heart surgery, you held our youngest daughter in your strapping Dutch farmer arms, and you read her Chinese folktales and sang her old-time Gospel hymns, and you remembered how she likes all of her favorite foods and you told her bad Dad-jokes to try to ease some of the post-operative ache, and I can’t count how many times I heard you praying over her as she coughed and moaned and cried through the night.

Dads aren’t made in delivery rooms, they are made by making room for their people every day.

Dads aren’t found on birth certificates like they’re forged every time there’s dying to self to let kids’ dreams be born.

Dads remember what it’s like to be a kid and remember what it’s like to be a child of God — and show their kids how to be both.

I’ve seen it a thousand times and I’ll go to the grave remembering it: you dog-tired but out there playing ball on the back lawn, you grinning sure to another round of hide and seek or Settlers of Catan, you staying up late to talk through big things going through little people’s heads — you being a roof for us all.

Don’t think for one hot minute that I miss it: You don’t merely work to the bone to support us — but you’re the one there to support our heads when we’re sick, support our hearts when we’re kinda broken, support our dreams when they’ve felt too heavy for any of us to bear.

You’ve done more than just carry our kids close — you’ve carried our world on your shoulders, you’ve carried our hopes like a lifeline that you’d rather die for than let go of, and there hasn’t been a day that you haven’t picked up and carried your cross because you know we are precisely made to bear the weight of glory and the load of a meaningful life.

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The way you have lived your love has helped us all live. When boys pray to be half the man their father is, it’s because their father has loved wholeheartedly.

Pass down the campfire roasting forks and the box of fishing tackle and the way you laughed long on Sunday afternoons:

A Father doesn’t leave a legacy in monuments but in memories.

A Father isn’t as concerned with bank accounts as he is about making deposits in hearts.

A Father doesn’t pressure his kids to perform for him, but purposes to shape his life cruciform for his kids.

And I see you on the exhausting days, on the crisis days, on ordinary Saturdays, and the truth is: Every time you reached out to our kids, you reached out to me:

When a man loves the littlest of these, he has loved their mother.

How you’ve cared for the kids has cared for me.

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On the morning of the 4th day post-op heart surgery, after you and I had gotten our baby girl dressed in her hero cape pajamas, you held her up in a tangle of medical wires and beeping monitors, helped her find her feet, and I watched her lean into you, watched you help her carry the weight of one agonizing step after another.

Witnessing the two of you inch down the hospital hallway, that was the moment I memorized:

Dads don’t need capes — their superpower to help us escape the dark is their hearts.

And I trace your heroic heart and what you mean to the family we have made:

You are our constant, like air in our lungs,
our always grounding, like a steadying gravity,
our shelter of shade in the beating heat of things,
and our constellation of courage that guides us toward Home.

When you and our littlest finally made it to the end of the hallway, she reached for you and when you scooped her up in your arms, I fell for you all over again and the way you carry us all on your supernatural cape of grace.