My husband, Carl didn’t have it easy growing up, not that anyone does. He was a military brat for the first six years of his life. His parents then divorced and he and his younger brother were in the care of their mother. She did the best she could on a meager salary with no financial assistance from their father. There were times that there was no money for food or new clothes. So they went without and lived with several different family members or in trailers or apartments, whatever she could afford. Working odd hours and shifts meant that dinner wasn’t always on the table at 5pm and she wasn’t able to be there to help them with their homework. They were latchkey kids with no “Dad” in their lives.
Carl was 30 when we were expecting our first child. He had not seen or heard from his father in roughly 20 years. Like most first-time parents, he was petrified. It wasn’t just financial worries though, he never had a father figure so he felt ill-prepared to be a good one. What most first-time parents don’t understand is that it’s a role that develops. Parents grow in the same manner that a child does. The love one feels for his children is unimaginable until he experiences it himself.
We now have three children and I’m still amazed at what a great father he has become. As far as our children are concerned, he hung the moon. He works midnights but he’s here when they get home from school and is able to attend their activities in the evening. They joke, giggle and romp around the house or they’re happy to just cuddle with him on the couch while watching TV. He makes time for all of them and is even the assistant coach on our oldest son Jarrett’s soccer team. If he takes one to a NASCAR race, he’ll take the other to a water park. At the end of first grade Jarrett brought home his daily journal, I giggled while reading it because the entire thing was about Carl and what the two of them did together or were planning to do. I was mentioned all of three times, but was not hurt at all. I know how important their relationship is and though he just shook his head and smiled, I know it made Carl feel really good.
It sometimes makes me sad to think about him and his brother being this young and having no Dad to kick a soccer ball around with or having one to cheer for them from the stands at a baseball game. But I think that in a way, Carl is vicariously reliving his childhood through each one of our children and at the same time, becoming one awesome Dad.