A Father’s Day Letter

Dear Cortney,

Happy Father’s Day, my love!  It’s been six years since you’re first one (and technically that day was two days before you actually became a father, but who’s counting?). Does it feel like six years of being a dad?

When we fell in love, I really didn’t have kids on the brain. I wanted to have a partner who was my best friend, who could laugh easily with me (and at me when appropriate), and who I could feel like a real team with. In fact, I know we both had reservations about ever having kids. We just really loved our life of just the two of us!  We could travel or sit home and no one was setting our schedule except us.

And then we accidentally got pregnant and miscarried.

Man.

It was like a ton of bricks, right?

I remember you holding me in the garage after the doctor’s appointment. I remember what you said as I buried my face in your shirt: “Well. I guess we know we want kids now.”

That was over eight years ago.

Remember that day you became a dad?

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And then three years later you did it again? This time a little wiser and prepared for a baby that  might just never stop crying?

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But then that kid was easy peasy…until he turned two. And you were pretty sure two was a good number, but I talked in you in to JUST ONE MORE…

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And so here we are. We went from “maybe no kids” to “Hey, we have three kids!”

I watched you bounce and pace with a colicky Eddie. I watched you be calm in ways that I just couldn’t be with Charlie. I also saw you yell out of anger and frustration for the first time in my life. Then I saw you fall in love with a daughter.

You are everything I thought you would be as a dad. You love your kids fiercely, but you have high expectations for their manners and accountability. You want to give them wonderful memories, but not a bunch of hand outs. You are firm, but so very cuddly and loving.

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Having kids has brought your silly side front and center. They may frustrate you to no end, but they also make you laugh harder than I have ever seen. Eddie’s random observations, Charlie’s looks, and Alice’s toots all make you chuckle in the best way.

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You have such a special relationship with each of our kids. Eddie is a thinker and builder like you are. Between the two of you, you could spend days with Legos or train sets and mulling over “constructions” for things to build.

Charlie is your communication clone. Both of you hold it in. The difference is you have learned to talk things through and not let things fester. Birdie is still learning. I have no doubts he will learn from you. He is also your helper. He wants a REAL rider lawn mower so he can do the front yard while you do the back.

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Your bond with Alice is new, but it shows in your eyes how in love you are with her. Your relationship with her is somehow different than that with the boys. You are softer with her. You call her dainty and tell her she is pretty. And she returns your attention with smiles and coos just for her daddy.

The day we were married you held my hands in front of church and rubbed them with your thumbs. I didn’t think I could fall any more in love with you than that day. My heart was so full.

Yet I fall over and over again watching you father our kids. Watching you be their silly “Dad-do” and their comforting “Daddy.” Being Charlie’s “Dad dad” and Eddie’s “Dad.” Soon you will be Alice’s doting “Da Da.”

Being a dad looks good on you, babe.

I’m happy we made these kids together.

Happy Father’s Day.

a {tardy} father’s day letter

Dear Cortney,

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Almost four years ago you became a dad.  You were sort of nervous, if I remember correctly.  Although I was sort of preoccupied at the time, so I hope you’ll forgive my lapse in memory.

Listen, I know.  Father’s Day sucks for you.  I has for almost eight years now.

Father’s Day 2005 was the last time you celebrated your dad while he was with us.  We had been married less than 24 hours and it was pretty emotional since we all knew it was his last one.

After we opened our wedding gifts, we celebrated Father’s Day.  I know it was awkward.  Your mom and stepdad were there as were all my siblings and my parents.  Not exactly a nice, intimate way to have your last Father’s Day with your dad.  I’ve always felt bad about that.

The next three Father’s Days were meh.  We celebrated my dad and your stepdad, but there was always something hanging in the air.  Something big and ugly, while at the same time there was something missing.  A big hole.  It was all just…wrong.  Icky.

Then you became a dad.

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And you were amazing.

You didn’t always know what to do, but you always did what was best.

But Father’s Day still had a lump of ugly.  I tried, babe.  I really did.  I didn’t want you to forget your dad, but I wanted you to feel celebrated.  I know I failed in lots of ways.  Some of that was because I tried to force conversation about your dad.  Other times I was sick and depressed and your day sucked because my brain sucked.  And sometimes I just wanted too much out of the day.  I wanted more than you wanted.

Of course, you became a daddy all over again last year.

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You were much more ready this time.  Much calmer.  You even joked and laughed with the docs and nurses during my surgery.

You still didn’t always know what you were doing, but you did know that it was Ok to not have all the answers.  That everything…and everyone…would be Ok.

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Again you were amazing.

I think Father’s Day got better last year.  I am not really sure why–whether it’s because I am in a better place or because time helps us know each other’s needs better or because I just listened better.  I don’t know.

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What I do know is this…I wish Father’s Day didn’t have to have that piece of suck stuck to it.  I know that won’t ever go away.  It’s hard to watch you smile through the pain.  I know you LOVE being a dad. I also know the biggest hurt in your heart is that your dad isn’t here to see and experience your being a dad.

I know that today, while you loved having Charlie wake you up, having Eddie and I pull in with Starbucks for you, getting gifts that your sons thought of on their own, and having Eddie yell HAPPY…what day mom? FATHER’S DAY, DADDY!

I know you love that Eddie announced he wanted to get you a Flash T-shirt and even though I told him I didn’t think that they would have that at Target, they did.  And Eddie has said, “I told you, mom” about a thousand times since we bought it on Thursday.

But I also know that every time the boys make you smile, something hurts in your heart at the same damn time.

You have no idea how I wish I could make that go away.

I don’t want you to forget your dad…I want him to be here with you.

I know that is impossible, but I am sick of it being impossible.  I am sick of the one thing that I want to gift you to be out of reach.

I am sick of saying “He sees you. He knows.” And I am sick of you having to nod and be Ok with that even though you will never be Ok with that.

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Mostly I am sick of seeing the sadness in the smile.

There should never be sadness in a smile.

I know the sadness will always be there and even though I rage against it because I can’t change it for you…even though I give God stink-eye from time to time, I know too that even though there is sadness, there will also always be the smile.

I strive to make sure there is always a smile in front of the sadness.

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Even if that smile is totally forced because our life is crazy…and our kids crazier.

I love you, Cortney.

I hope the boys and I did a good job of making you smile yesterday.

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