About a month ago, I
tooted my own horn spoke the truth about how I am a really, really good mother. Well, the same goes for Eric, my forever person and father to our wonderful Peeper and Kiwi.
I know him well enough to be fairly certain that he’ll feel all embarrassed by this post (just as he was extremely awkward when I shared with the world that he’d been awarded the educator of the week—something especially noteworthy, I think, because he teaches special ed and this is his first year as full-time teacher. Heck yeah, I’m proud!). But he can just deal, because I’m going to sing his praises anyway!
Ten ways Eric is a wonderful father barely scratches the surface, but these reasons give a glimpse into how lucky our family is to have him. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in the crazy and rewarding whirlwind of parenthood.
Happy Father’s Day, my love.
1. He roughhouses. Peeper loves climbing all over “Dadden,” as she calls him. Having an outlet to be as physical as she likes gives her confidence, I think, and it’s just not something my belly and I can provide right now. Eric tackles her when playing football, lets her “oomph” (aka body slam) him and sets up pillows for a soft landing when she jumps off the futon. I want my daughters to grow up knowing that being strong and physical isn’t just for boys, and thanks to Eric, she’s learning that.
2. He lets her “help.” Not long ago, we bought an exercise bike to replace our gym membership—and the time we once had to actually exercise outside the house. Peeper started to pitch in when he set up the bike, and I listened to them working on the “extercize” bike downstairs.
Her high-pitched voice mingled with metal clanking on metal as she fitted bolts through the holes and banged a screwdriver against the metal frame. Throughout, I could hear Eric’s encouraging words and their mutual excitement.
I’m sure it took much longer to put the whole shebang together with a toddler helper, but he never complained. It was fun for the both of them.
3. He includes her. Eric’s favorite hobby is disc golfing, and he has made sure Peeper was a part of the activity since she was a week old. I join them, too, but it’s Eric’s enthusiasm that really gets Peeper going at the course. “Want to make a basket!” she’ll shout as she runs at the pin with disc in hand. It’s only a matter of time before she’s tearing it up at tournaments.
4. He’s involved, even when he’s not home. Between his first year of full-time teaching and finishing a master’s in special education, Eric is B.U.S.Y. Some days, he doesn’t get to see Peeper at all: He leaves way before she’s up and gets back after bedtime.
I do my best to fill him in on those long days. The other night, while I was telling him about our day, Eric watched a video of Peeper running down the trail oh, about ten times. He couldn’t get enough. That untiring joy in our daughter shows me he’s always thinking of us, even when he’s not here.
5. He pulls my weight. Our dishwasher recently broke, so while we’re waiting for the repair parts to come in, we’ve been doing a lot of dishes by hand. Check that; Eric has been doing a lot of dishes. Because truth be told, by the end of the day, I’m too exhausted for much more than lying back in a chair and watching an episode of Brooklyn 99.
When Eric does more than his share of chores around the house, he allows me to rest—and focus on growing this baby. He’s already a great dad to our in-utero kick boxer.
6. He goes off-script. If Eric were a sports announcer, he’d definitely be the color guy, and he brings that irreverent commentary to kids’ books, too. I love listening to him read Peeper stories because he rarely recites the words. He makes up his own story, loosely aligned with the pictures, and they always crack me up.
7. He talks to Kiwi. This munchkin will surely know her dad’s voice when she arrives. “Hi Kiwi, I’m your dad,” he’ll say, or “Hi, Kiwi, what’s your name going to be?” And every night when we turn the light off, he places a hand on my belly and says, “Good night, Kiwi. I love you.”
8. He’s a great dad to our dog. Our furry firstborn definitely doesn’t get as much attention as he did pre-Peeper, but Eric always finds the time to give him pets—or even take him out on a hike or disc golfing.
Of course the love makes Finn feel good, but it also teaches Peeper how to be a kind pet owner. She gives Finn belly rubs and scratches behind his ears and always asks after him first thing in the morning. She learns a lot of that kindness from Eric.
9. He gets on her level. Whether it’s coloring, acting out scenes with stuffed animals or dunking toys in a makeshift bath, Eric joins Peeper where she is. Sure, it’s great that she has a partner in play. But his interest in what others might dismiss as “kid stuff” sends a strong message: I care. What matters to you matters to me.
10. He’s the treat guy. Eric never forgets to bring a handful of treats for Finn when they go out (whereas I’d rather not have a pocket that smells of dehydrated salmon), and that philosophy reaches to Peeper, too. He shares a bite of Fudgecicle or sip of OJ with her, whereas I tend to keep her diet pretty sugar-free; they also watch the occasional sports match together while I catch a break. In fact, Peeper loves to shout encouragement to the different teams, a la “He made a basket!” or “Go Lions!” regardless of what sport—or team—they’re watching.
I don’t consider it inconsistent parenting at all. I think it’s good for her to get a variety of experiences from a variety of caregivers, and a taste of ice cream here or a little TV and there isn’t going to ruin her. I love that they have special activities together, and I respect my partner’s judgement. I’m glad our hard-and-fast rules are limited to things that are really important, like not touching the stove and shunning the Patriots. (kidding!)
As Father’s Day approaches, I’d love to hear about the wonderful partners, dads and caregivers you know. Tell me: How did they make a difference in your life?