Why Dads Are The Secret Ingredient

As I sat in a cafe area at Children’s Hospital yesterday with my son enjoying a breakfast reward. My son worked hard during his Occupational Therapy session, and deserved some hot chocolate and a chocolate chip cookie. He enjoys the mother-son time every week, as do I.

It was at that moment that my eyes looked over to a dad who had two very young kids in tow. One was in a stroller, the other looked like she was about a year or two older. He looked overwhelmed, and pretty frazzled. He didn’t realize that I was watching him (yes, I’m a people observer) so he didn’t bother hiding the look of exasperation on his face.

The interesting part of all of this was I couldn’t help but think how many times as a mom I’ve been there before. The times when my babies were up crying all night, or with fevers and I couldn’t calm them down. Or the many times they’ve had a fit in public, or had my nerves frazzled and just wanted to cry. The many times I’ve realized that I’m not a perfect mother and feel totally and completely unequipped. I thought about how many times I just needed a hot bath after a long day, or I just wanted to curl up in a little ball and fall asleep until tomorrow.

While those days aren’t as often anymore, they still happen from time to time. I couldn’t help but think how nice it was to see this dad with his kids. While yes, he was completely overwhelmed, he didn’t yell at his kids or take it out on them. He changed the little one’s pamper while caring for the older one. And just when he thought he had enough, I watched the little girl give her dad a hug and say I love you.

It was in that moment that his eyes lifted to meet mine, and we both gave each other a smile as if to say, it’s totally worth it. And it is. My son and I wrapped up our breakfast, and cleaned up after ourselves. As we got up to leave, I peeked over at the dad. No longer did he appear exasperated and frazzled. Now he sat looking like he was at peace. And me? I was proud of him and I didn’t even know him.

The lesson I learned yesterday? We’re ALL unequipped for parenthood, and it’s hands on training. We can only do the best we can with what we know. However, in that, we should always seek to learn better, and do better than what we were taught. Our kids will repeat what they see us do. They are more sensitive than we can imagine. They have no idea the power that lies within their hugs, and those three little words, I love you. We have no idea how powerful our hugs and I love you’s are to our children. Let them know as often as you can that you love them, and show it to them through action even more often.

In typing this, it reminds me of my dad. I’ve been blessed beyond measure to have been raised by a man with such integrity and wisdom. He’s taught me more lessons than I’ve even realized thus far. The older I get, the more I hear my mom tell me with a smile on her face just how much I reminder her of him. That’s a wonderful compliment. My dad has always been the first one on my mind to call when I have a new idea. He’s awesome for late night conversations at the table about any and everything, and always leaving feeling like I’ve learned something. Even if I didn’t necessarily agree with a position he had on something. My dad, the peacemaker, the idea man, the grinder. One day those two little girls will be able to grow up and remember their dad, and appreciate the sacrifices he made for them, and the lessons he taught them, just like I do.

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