Today is Father’s Day. From that first June after Gabriella’s birth, it’s been a day I’ve cherished.
In 1997, it came as a relief to have exceeded six months and still have our daughter with us. By the second Father’s Day, we had bypassed a year and had begun to put the prophecy of the diagnosis behind us. And the third third-Sunday-in-June brought a new blessing, celebrating our “normal” son as well as our “unique” daughter.
Those early Father’s Days were three-generation affairs, but far too soon we lost Lisa’s father, and then we lost mine after a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s. Both were ideal role models, not only devoted fathers but humble, generous men.
I think what I love most about Father’s Day is that I get to experience it with my two so-different children. It’s a time to celebrate their differences and what that means for my life as a dad: the writing prizes and the midnight diaper changes, settling him into his new college apartment and hunting for her new bath chair, Skyping while he is studying abroad and walking her around to keep her calm in the doctor’s office, hearing about his day at his internship and reading about hers at her day program.
I get to share postmodern literature with Alexander and Sandra Boynton board books with Gabriella, watch Saturday Night Live sketches with my son and Sesame Street segments with my daughter.
We celebrated graduations with our son at every step along the educational spectrum, and a single big event for our daughter when she aged out of Lakeview School. Sometimes we push him to say a little more; sometimes we plead with her to whinge a little less.
One thing I frequently have to re-learn is balance. That means not smothering him while always snuggling her, but not neglecting him in the wake of all we need to do for her. It means giving him enough attention when she’s demanding our full focus, and it means challenging her enough while giving him the space he needs.
When I was younger, I looked forward to being a father. I could never have foreseen the altitude of the joys or the depths of the terrors.
Today is a day to reminisce and to anticipate. Alexander won’t be up until late morning and will need some time (and coffee) to shake off the night. Gabriella was up before we were, and she greeted our arrival downstairs with her usual clicks and delight.
Ours is a different sort of family, blessed with riches and constrained by limitations. Perhaps the best part is having a partner to share the whole crazy tangle of our life. While I couldn’t be a father without these two amazing kids, I also couldn’t be their Dad without their incredible Mom.