This piece was originally published on The Good Men Project and has been reprinted with permission.
His fatherhood is jokes that we all know the punch line of.
It’s perfect ribs and 69 cent cones and homemade cream soda.
It’s a gifted appreciation for Star Wars, the Minnesota Twins, and siracha — all before age six.
His fatherhood is leaving the house for work before the kids are up so he can be home in time for dinner and homework and carpool and baseball practice.
It’s coaching soccer and volleyball and baseball — having only played one of the three as a kid.
It’s coaching not really being about the sport anyway.
His fatherhood is falling asleep to the glare of the TV every night, with the remote in hand, and a to-do list that will have to wait.
It’s a very small bridge from work mode to dad mode.
It’s grilling and hiking and swimming. It’s a secret dislike for outings. And it’s going on outings anyway.
His fatherhood is counting pennies and stretching them as far as he can.
It’s still searching for the balance between holding tight and letting go. So it’s Stay close, closer, closer.
It’s an unquenchable want to protect.
His fatherhood is help with math. Late at night. With bleary eyes. And that to-do list still waiting. It’s showing not telling and the kind of high expectations that say, I believe in you.
It’s strong arms that swaddled and rocked and swayed and held and lifted and bounced. It’s stronger arms, still, that built and held close and will one day let go. (Maybe.)
It’s the promise of a first dance.
His fatherhood is seeing the kind of man he wants our son to be. And holding him to stringent accountability as he makes his way there.
It’s Attaboys and That’s-my-girls.
It’s I love yous with wild abandon.
His fatherhood is books read by the light of single lamps. Laying on bellies. On the top bunk.
It’s board books and picture books and chapter books.
It’s tricycles and training wheels and two wheels.
His fatherhood is going down the big hill on the back of a sled. One arm wrapped around our firstborn, the other holding on to the side of the sled.
It’s getting them down the hill safely. It’s making it look effortless. It’s checking her face to see if she’s smiling before giving me a thumbs up.
It’s saying yes to one more time.
His fatherhood is control and discipline and consequences all couched within so much love it’s palpable.
It’s good night hugs and kisses and blankets tucked up to chins.
It’s just one more hug-kiss-book-sip of water, You’re okays after bad dreams, and middle of the night sick patrol like an absolute expert (from day one).
His fatherhood is squirt guns and mile runs. It’s pink nail polish on tiny toes. It’s showing up to more school events than not.
It’s field trip groups on one day, and business trips on the next.
It’s a roadmap of intimacy.
His fatherhood is imperfect, effortless, inspiring, humbling.
His fatherhood is reliable.
His fatherhood is exactly what we all need.
His fatherhood is the other half of my story.
More on The Good Men Project:More On