I wish once again that I had an audio clip to share with this post. Because the title really isn’t funny unless 1) you’re me, 2) you’ve seen the movie (which I can’t remember…Blues Brothers maybe) or possibly 3) you know Poppa Pants and have heard him say it. Hilarious. My favorite is this exchange: my mother, weary from a day of work or long to-do list around the house, inquires about dinner. “What do we want to have for dinner?” And my father’s enthusiastic response of “A rrrrrrrrrubber biscuit!?!” Giggles ensue.
Welcome, fathers of all shapes and sizes and a very Happy Father’s Day [belated] to everyone and especially my one and only Poppa Pants.
Dads are special people, especially to daughters. Mothers are there to help us grow, nourish us, give us bandaids, and talk about boys. Dads are there to lay down the law and show us how a real man treats women. They teach us how to play sports, in the hopes that we might like Barbies a little less, and play baseball with him more. Or how to properly use a power drill. If we’re lucky, they teach us what a loving marriage looks like. They are our guardians, doing the cleaning-the-shotgun routine at the door when the first boy comes calling. Dads are sort of indispensable. I’m super glad to have mine, because he taught me so much. And is still teaching, despite my new adult status as a 24-year-old. To the good dads out there, daughters are never really adults. We’re always learning, and always one or two or ten chapters behind them in the book of life lessons. And they are always more than glad to teach us, in the hopes that we can skip the painful chapters and get to the good parts. Again, if we’re lucky. And I am.
When I was three, my mother met a man who was really nice, got me awesome stuffed animals, and let me come on their dates. When I was 5, she married this man, and when I was 5 and a half, he became my daddy. I remember asking numerous times when I could officially start calling him “Daddy.” I was excited in that way that small kids get excited about things – purely and not jaded by past disappointments. When it became legally official and we three became a family, I inherited a last name that no one can pronounce or spell, an awesome dog, and a dad that loved me as his own – so much so that we never talk about it. And I don’t mean we don’t talk about it like, “we don’t discuss such things,” or, “ahem, we don’t talk about it.” It’s more like, we just don’t talk about it because it’s not important.
In my family, being a dad is not about sharing DNA, hairlines, or medical history. Though we both have to smile when people say I look just like him. It’s not about passing on the family name, and really it’s not about the name at all. No one can spell it anyway. It’s about love. Daddy has supported me in every single thing I’ve done that I can recall – except anything to do with boys, obviously. He attended swim meets, miserably taking place on weekends from dawn to dusk (looking back, I now hope my kids don’t want to swim…yikes). He attended my tennis matches even though I wasn’t ranked and only got to play fun doubles – but I think he was proud when I was awarded most spirited. Because attitude is everything to him. This is evident in how he embraced raising me as his own, and now as an adult I can say soundly that I am his. In more ways than we can both count.
He taught me how to drive, and now our habits are identical to the annoyance of my mother. He taught me to want certain things, how to choose what I want, and how to fight for the short list and get it, instead of fighting for the long list and getting nothing. “It’s all in the want to,” he’d say, when I “couldn’t” remember things, or “couldn’t” do things. He was also famous for the “you’ll know when you’re older” line, which as we’ve discussed here before is just one of those things. Because it’s true – I am older, and I do know now. I look back and shake my head, laugh, cry, and call him and say, “UGH remember when I was so annoying and did this?!” And he’ll chuckle and not even need to say I-told-you-so. Because he knew that I’d know, and now he knows that I know, and we both know. You know?
As a grown-up I’ve met a few single moms who are out there looking for a man, the baggage of their child or children dragging them down, making them wonder if they’ll be alone forever and if their kids will ever know what it’s like to have a man who loves them proper. Those girls that grow up without dads sometimes come to be known as the girl who has “daddy issues,” the ones who are on Law & Order: SVU – you know what I’m talking about. The strippers, escorts, or girls who get worked over repeatedly by the same guy, or multiple guys. These are the girls who might’ve missed having the heavy and loving hand of a father growing up, teaching them to respect themselves, and how to demand respect from others. These moms should have faith. The Man sent my mother a man when she had a toddler (for crying out loud), and he decided to stick around. And since I had no say in those happenings, I have to say thanks to both of them. Thanks to my mother for being smart and picking him, and thanks to my daddy for picking her back since she came with me, and choosing to be my father and stick around for life. It’s pretty cool.
So on this week after Father’s Day (because I was too busy hanging with my Daddy to write this before), give your daddy an extra hug. Because in spite of what the DNA says, every dad chooses. Thanks to mine, for choosing to be a daddy.