I enjoy every minute I have with my children.
Well, not the minutes they’re cranky, of course. I could live without those. And as for the minutes I share with them at 3 a.m. when they wake up crying or sick … yeah, those aren’t on the top of my list either. I realize the importance of being there for them in those moments, so I will always jump out of bed when I hear them crying. I just won’t enjoy it.
And I don’t care a great deal for the minutes they misbehave or ignore me, which don’t occur often but, hey, they’re kids.
OK, so I don’t enjoy every minute I have with my children, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I give them all that I am and everything I have because I don’t want them to relive my childhood.
I grew up fatherless. Not in a literal sense, mind you. A man obviously fathered me. But I grew up fatherless in a physical and emotional sense. He simply wasn’t part of my everyday life.
I grew up in Gaithersburg, Md., the third of four children. We were raised by a single mother who worked harder than anyone I have ever known to give her children a decent upbringing. She was my mother and my father, and did a wonderful job playing a bad hand.
I would be lying if I said I grew up without a father unscathed. But that doesn’t mean my children have to. They don’t. They have me.
And not just me one weekend a month. Or once every three days. Or as a signature on a birthday card and a voice over the phone.
They have me when they are cranky.
They have me when they wake up at 3 a.m. with a raging fever.
They have me when they misbehave.
When Celeste and Gavin are adults, they will not say they grew up fatherless. They will say they grew up with me and my wife in a happy home.
The words you read here are the stories of their lives, the ones they will tell their own children. And through their stories, you’ll see how I try to make up for them what I didn’t have as a child. I try to write regularly, but life sometimes intervenes and I find myself without enough time to write. So I don’t. I’d rather spend those moments actively engaged in their lives than writing about it.
I won’t lecture you about how you need to be a great father, but I will show you how great it is to be an engaged father. I hope you will see how valuable you are to your children, and how much they need you as their father. They need you as much as mine need me.
You can give them nothing more valuable.