I realize that I might have shown my true colors in my last post, (I’m selfish. I acknowledge that and I forgive myself) so in an effort to focus on the true non-commercial meaning of Father’s Day, I will tell you how I truly, down the nails of my toes, feel about Jack and his parenting skillz.
I am in awe of him. He is a natural parent, and he settled into the role of father and provider as naturally and easily as he falls into bed each night. Of the two of us he is the better, more patient parent. He is more nuturing to their individual mental and emotional needs. He is more fun and always seems to know what to do to put a smile on their beautiful faces. He knows his daughters, what’s truly important to them, what their shortcomings are, and what they excel at. Even though he comes home exhausted each night, he will 95% of the time make it a point to reconnect with each one of them. He is exactly what they need.
Amy is our oldest and most sensitive child. She is her mother. She is afraid and intense. She is stubborn and can dig herself into some pretty impressive emotional holes. She is insecure and dreams of being MORE but lacks the confidence to wholly commit. She feels everything deeply and is at her soul frightened of the world. She completely blossoms when she’s around her father. I don’t know how he does it, but he knows exactly what to say to get her to take those necessary risks. He gives her the space she needs and the quiet opportunity to climb out of those tantrums and freak outs with her much needed dignity in tact. Where I am the one too close to the subject, too harsh with her faults because they are mine, too quick to say, “deal with it. I had to,” he is all around her, lighting the path, showing her how to fight the monsters, cushioning her falls, and raising her up in victory with his always sincere, “I’m so proud of you.”
Amelia is 100% him from her dark wavy hair to her love of rising early in the mornings. She is confident and popular. She has an ease of self that you can only be born with. She doesn’t need him the way her sister does, but she needs him nonetheless, and he is always there for her. He knows exactly when and how to apply the occassionally needed ego smackdown. He doesn’t destroy her, but he does let her know that the day starts long before she opens her pretty blue eyes and continues even when she’s asleep. He knows how she processes and how she learns and puts a spin on what he says and does that suits her. Where I am too pliant with her, too indulgent, too in awe because she is just so together, he is the one drawing the line in the sand. You’re that, but you’re not finished yet, he tells her because he knows the pitfalls of over-confidence, of things coming effortlessly. Where I think, oh, it’s Amelia, she’ll get it naturally, he’s the one working tirelessly with her to make sure that what she gets she gets with substance.
Then there’s Olivia, our power house. She greets each day with her father’s exuberance (Good morning world! How much can we accomplish today?!) and is constantly on the move, exploring, destroying, learning. Her need for physical activity and mental stimulation leaves me a slobbering lump by the time he gets home. I have nothing more to give and will watch dully as she cracks eggs on my couch simply because she’s worn me down and I no longer have the energy to stop her. Jack understands her need to do something, to run and holler and be exuberant and he gives her that outlet. Even though it might be inconvenient, he’ll take her to the store with him and walk with her without a cart and without saying, no! and stop that! and ohmygawd you are killllling meeee! He will read the same five books with her until his eyes bleed and then he’ll usually ask if she wants to hear them again. When she disrupts his at home office he doesn’t yell or swat or threaten, he redirects and usually makes her laugh. He works daily to figure out the absolute best way to deal with her Olivia-ness, he directs without stifling the amazing zest for life, he teaches her in the way she learns best – by doing. He puts his foot down when she needs it most, but he doesn’t shame her. He simply lets her know that this is not how we do it. He understands her need for ME and is not hurt that I’m the one she lavishes with kisses and hugs, the one she demands when things aren’t going well for her, the one she wants to fall asleep on. It doesn’t bother him because he knows from experience that the two of them will forge their own relationship and way of doing things. He’s patient because he knows that like his other two, he and Olivia are essential to each other.
Happy Father’s Day, Jack, and thank you. From all of us.