There is one detail about our family life that tells you pretty much everything you need to know about John as a father and, really, as a person, and here it is: when our kids cry out in the middle of the night, they call for Daddy.
I know this is unusual, because every time it comes up in conversation the other person is staggered. Moms are simply the default middle-of-the-night parent, it seems. And this makes sense, to a certain extent: if you’re breastfeeding, you are the one that’s needed in the middle of the night. And then, as with many other patterns, it simply… continues.
That’s not what happened in our family. It turns out I am a very deep sleeper, and so when June was born, I would sometimes sleep through her baby cries (even though she was in the same room as us). John, though, would hear her. He would go to her in her bassinet, change her diaper by the dim light of the cracked bathroom door, re-swaddle her, and then deliver her to me to nurse. Every night, often multiple times a night, without fail.
Maybe it’s that imprint of him coming to each tiny baby’s aid from their earliest days, or maybe it’s the relentless gentleness, attention, and care he’s paid them every day since. For whatever reason, when it’s dark and our children are scared, or cry themselves awake from coughing, or vomit into their favorite stuffies and blankets, or bolt upright in bed, suddenly desperate for a sip of water, Daddy is the one they call for. They know he will always come, and they know he will always take care of them. He’ll turn on the nightlight, he’ll bring them water, he’ll change the sheets and pajamas and find new stuffies and tuck them back in. All, many times, without Mama even knowing anything is happening.
One day, our children will realize how extraordinary their father is, and how lucky they are to have him: a Daddy who loves deeply, and sacrifices deeply – a Daddy who loves them so deeply he’d never call it a sacrifice. But I know this now, and this weekend I’ll honor him and all of the other extraordinary dads loving and sacrificing quietly, gently, day in and day out. Happy Father’s Day. xo