To all you dads out there, Happy Fathers Day. To all you sperm donors, go to hell, you're the loser for not knowing what great people you accidentally helped create. I am fortunate enough to know both types.
My dad was my step-father. He died as my husband and I started dating and my husband only met him shortly before he died. My dad was great and awful, as all good dads are. He wasn't perfect, but he provided for the family and let me know that there was more in the world than was in all the books I read. He'd pull me out of school and take me to construction sites, ships in the Houston Ship Channel (funnest day EVAR was going on a Russian freighter before Glasnost. Da, tovarisch) and we'd go see cheesy movies at the matinee. To this day he is Daddy to me. Yeah, he could be an asshole, but he was always trying to do what was best for me and my sister. He probably cared more than my two biologicals.
My children are fortunate to have a fantastic father who loves them very much. To my ex, his kids are everything and he makes sure they know it. One of the reasons my kids are as confident as they are is because they know we love them. Our daughters do not sell themselves cheaply because of their relationship with their father. He gave them a healthy view of their own worth by being a good father, spending time with them and letting them know his love. They won't settle for less than what their father gave them, in pure love, so any guy who doesn't measure up to Dad, will never get far with either of them.
My kids are also fortunate to have my husband as a step-father. Granted, he loves to hear his own voice (read lecture) and has a somewhat skewed idea of family (read any 50s sitcom) but they put up with his goofy ways and respect him for it. They are more likely to come down on my head if they feel I'm being too bitchy to him. It does my heart good to see them stick up for him.
I'm a rarity these days. I have four children, all with the same man. A man who, even after we decided to end our marriage, decided to still parent our children instead of leaving them to their own devices. No matter what, we may not have been married any longer, but we would always be their parents. We did not make them be the adults when they weren't ready to be adults.
I was lucky enough to re-marry some years later to a man who recognized that my ex was their father. My ex even lived with us for some time after he lost his job while living in another city. We moved him here with us where he found a job rather quickly and got on his feet. It was a tight squeeze in our little house, but we did what was best for the kids. Worrying about their father would not have helped them deal with things. He was lucky enough to meet a woman who understands his relationship with his children takes nothing away from his relationship with her. I like her, she's a good woman and he deserves that.
Dads do what is best for their kids. They work grueling jobs and hours to make ends meet, to make sure their kids have better than they did. They are the ones who, even after working all day, will still go coach a ball team to spend time with their kid. Yes, they yell, they cuss, the drink beer, but they love their kids. Besides, it gives their kids something to talk about on stage during open mike night at the local comedy club.
So, to all of you dads who stuck around, who care, who take the time, this day is for you. Enjoy it and hug the kids for that tie you're going to get. Wear it to dinner tonight. Then wad it up and forget about it with all the other ties you've gotten over the years. Take it out in a few years, as they've grown and remember that moment. Remind them of it, too.
Then tell them to go get you a drink!