I am blessed to have three amazing dads in my life. My father, my father-in-law and my husband. Each one of these men illustrate what being a man really means. They love their families, they work hard to make sure their families are taken care of and they do not run when life becomes challenging.
My daddy was a feminist before it became an acceptable word. He never told me that I could not do something just because I was a girl. At Christmas as a child I got dolls and Hot Wheels cars complete with tracks. We fished together and at one time even bought a car to restore although I did not see that one through. He recently gave me a scroll saw and a sander to further my hobbies. Before I could drive away from the house in my first car he made me learn how to change the tires and check the oil and fluids. He had a steel pipe in the trunk so I could use it to provide more leverage on the lug nuts, or in case of emergency, as a weapon for self protection. He taught me to "measure twice and cut once". He taught me "if a thing is worth doing then it is worth doing right". But what he really taught me was love. That raising a child takes time, interaction and putting someone else before yourself. He taught me about marriage by being a faithful and loving husband. He showed me that that two people can disagree, have different beliefs or ideas and still love each other. Daddy showed me that marriage is not about one person winning all the time or one person hitting the other. He lives out his vows with love and respect for my mother. He set me up for a successful and healthy marriage by example, not just words. He gave me the foundation for a successful life and what more could any child ask for of their father?
My father-in-law and I met the day before my wedding. Hampered by his broken English and my non-existent Spanish there was relatively little thought provoking conversation at that meeting. And yet he still made it clear that I was welcome in his family, that I would be loved and accepted as his only son's choice of life partner. Never in 18 years of marriage has he ever made me feel like an outsider. We don't get to spend a great deal of time together due to geography but this gentle man has still taught me so much. He, like my father, is a man of principle with a strong work ethic. When it became clear that jobs were leaving his country he left to find better opportunities to provide for his family. It meant spending months away from his four children but doing so would give them the finances to attend the best schools in the area. Above all he believed in educating his children so that they could achieve their dreams. And that meant sending them to a school that could teach them to be bilingual. He sacrificed precious time with his family and took jobs that were not always representative of his education so his family would have a better life. He has lived his life with dignity and love of others. The embodiment of a real father.
My husband and I have three boys. My husband, like his father and mine, is a hard working man. He has earned a great deal of respect in his field by being the one who stays past quitting time to fix the problem. He is showing his boys that a career takes dedication and the willingness to stay even when the job is hard. He teaches my boys how to respect women by opening doors for me, treating me with kindness and never raising his voice to me. The boys are learning how to mow the lawn, take care of a family and have a good marriage by example. My husband tells the children what he expects from people who work with and for him so they can be good employees one day. He reviews their grades and discusses why they should focus on school. My boys like getting in the kitchen because on the weekend they see their daddy cooking breakfast and other meals. They know that everyone should know how to do laundry, cook, clean and take care of the lawn. When they make a "girls can't do that" comment he corrects them with examples of successful women. Even though we have a very traditional family my boys know that women can work in any job and that men should do their fair share in the home. My husband is teaching by example how to be a loving man.
These three men have given me love and support. They love my boys unconditionally. Each of these wonderful men show my boys how to be a real man and a loving father through their daily lives. They embody the spirit of fatherhood and I and my boys are all the richer for having them in our lives.
Happy Father's Day to my three favorite men.