Our youngest asked my husband, “Dad, do you know how to make buttered bread?” He was serious as he asked the question. This gave my husband a huge chuckle and it’s a running joke at our house now that he struggles with the simple task of buttering bread. My kids are fixated on how I do the cooking at our house, so they often assume my husband can’t do things. He’s a dad who knows how to be silly and make fart jokes, a talent I gladly don’t work on. They laugh together as boys can and I am grateful for that.
I know what it’s like to be a mother, but I can only observe what it’s like to be a father by watching my husband and my own dad. I know a father is around for his kids; he is with his kids so fun memories have a chance to be created. His kids will remember he was present.
My husband is a supportive dad who participates in our kids’ lives. He has supported our kids at their sports games and cheered them all on. He offers himself up as umpire at baseball games, as scorekeeper at lacrosse games, and as chain gang marker holder at football games. But really he secretly loves the football volunteer role as he gets a front row seat.
He has dedicated years to our boys in Cub Scouts. He has spent hours upon hours as a leader for our middle son’s scout den. As a leader he has been a role model for the young boys and introduced them to the fun of the outdoors. He has built stacks of memories for my sons attending Cub Scout camp. The time spent there has instilled strength into their relationships. At camp they’ve bonded building birdhouses and tool carriers. They’ve braved canoeing and fishing together, and traversed obstacle courses together. My husband and kids combine efforts to create little wooden Pinewood Derby cars to race every year in the Cub Scouts annual event. He allows them to pick the design of the cars each year; he has taught them how to use the tools to craft the cars. Cub Scouts has solidified their father-son bonds.
Family camping is another way my husband has bonded with our kids. Camping in our giant Australian sixteen-person tent is a favorite event my kids enjoy with my husband. They ask about it at the first hint of summer. Our tent with private hang out pods on the sides brings smiles to our kids’ faces, plus they learn hard work because the tent is a huge chore to put up. Countless rounds of bocce ball happen at the campsite and he teaches them how to whittle sticks with their pocket knives. The rule is he must be present for the kids to whittle so he can watch over them. The kids love the bonfires he makes mostly because they can make s’mores and help maintain the fire. He is fostering in them a love of grilling while camping. Great memories are being born.
Best of all, he says he tells them he loves them every day and asks for hugs. He seeks them out. He provides for them; he is with them.
I cherish how my husband is present for our kids because my dad was there for us as kids so I have many special memories. I spent time with my Dad in the summers; he was an elementary school teacher. We helped him in the summer working on the garden as gardening was his passion. We would pick raspberries, sugar them, and pour them over vanilla ice cream—a heavenly summer evening memory. Even though we rarely took him up on it, he tried to entice us to pick beans with him too. I spent hours reading in my room so he would deliver me lunch plates in the summer with grilled cheese sandwiches, apple slices, and carrots. When I eat the combination of those foods it brings me sweet memories of those lunches.
I remember how he came to dance recitals and pitched balls to us to practice softball in the back yard. He taught us to downhill ski and we’d try to weave back and forth with skis as parallel as his, but we never could quite do it as well as him. He gave us smiles every day when we were young and he still continues to greet us with a smile today.
I loved making malts for him when I was in the bathtub as a young child, and the flavor depended on what color washcloth we had for the night. We would pull the curtain closed and fill up a cup with water and the washcloth, then pull the curtain open to serve him our freshly prepared malt. He always said they were delicious.
I have fond memories as a child up at his family’s cabin which his family owned since he was one-year old. We would swim together in the clear lake, play water volleyball, and roast marshmellows around a beach bonfire. He would endure dragging us behind the boat for hours to tube and knee board because we loved it. He taught us to water ski and we loved to watch him slalom, something we aspired to do but never accomplished. My Dad encouraged fishing, but that past time really never took in us. I liked to play with the mysterious contents of my little brown and yellow tackle box more than I ever liked to fish. But he tried to bring us into something he loved to do, and that’s what I cherish.
My dad was there when our pets needed help which was so important to us. He cared for our cats and brought them to the vet when they needed help. He buried passed away hamsters in our backyard under the dad doesn’t like to see his kids sad.
As he told us of his victories as a high school basketball star, we always would ask him if he wished he had a boy rather than two girls. His answer was always the same, he’d say, “Your mother and I were just happy you were healthy.”
As my dad ages, and I see many of his past abilities melting away, I cherish those memories of him so young and capable when I was a child. I focus on cherishing him as he is now, he is still able to interact with my kids and be a grandpa. He is present as a grandpa in his own way; that is what my kids will get to keep, memories of a grandpa who got to spend some time with his grandkids.
I am thankful for my husband and my dad because they have made time to be present. They give love freely, yet differently than I do as mom, but what is so great is that this means the kids get love from multiple directions. They spend time together; they are present with our kids which is a joy I will cherish now today. Today is the time to make the memories.
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