As usual, you'll need to click on this picture to see it better. It's one of the few photos I have of my children's father and my husband, Lee. He's not camera shy, he's just always the one behind the camera.
I took this shot of him on Thanksgiving weekend. It was our first vacation without children in five years. We were lucky enough to spend it on the island of Oahu and see my niece, LeAnn, get married. I was so thankful she didn't live somewhere like Wisconsin or Montana or Minnesota. I understand those states are cold in November.
He's not here to celebrate Father's Day today. We had to do it yesterday afternoon because he's the business manager of our church's Sr. High camp this week. Staff members had to arrive a day early for meetings. My oldest, Thomas, left this morning and they'll be gone all week. For gifts, he got a bunch of goodies (dark chocolate, apple butter, peach syrup, and Swedish Fish candy) and a pair of mismatched shoes---arrrggghh! Some cold-hearted soul switched one shoe. They left the shoe with the tag saying 'size 10' attached, and switched out it's twin with a size 11. Somebody owes me some gas money! :)
Lee is a wonderful father. He listens to the kids, hangs out with them, calls them every night when he's out of town, helps them with their homework, includes them in learning situations (like changing oil or brake pads), drives hundreds of miles for soccer, takes Pearl on dates, gets tough when he needs to, and sticks to his guns when it's hard.
Being a good parent is such an enormous task, especially now that two of our three kids are teens. There is a fine line between wanting to be their friend and have them like you; and wanting to do what you know is right and risk them shutting you out. It is a million times easier to say 'yes' and have a peaceful house, than it is to say 'no' and have a grouchy, sullen teen hurling hateful looks and unsaid thoughts at you. For me personally, it's painful. Since the moment that first cry escapes a baby's lips, it is our job to make them content and happy. As they grow, we have to say 'no' to their happiness more often. I'm sure my teens feel as though we say 'no' all the time. I remember getting to the point of feeling like "Why bother asking?" with my parents. That's when, as a parent, you've failed. That's another fine line. Lee and I don't want the kids to get to that point. So far, our strategy is to know where we stand on certain issues before they occur. We pick our battles ahead of time. Like with most plans, stuff pops up to throw us off course. Lee's cool head is the one that prevails. I usually become an emotional whirling dervish and only cause more angst.
I hope one day, the kids will realize that Lee stands his ground because he loves them. He wants them to make good decisions, wants to teach them things about being better people and realizes he's not always going to be popular because of it. I'm sure when he's separated from them emotionally, that it's painful for him to.
Thanks honey, for wanting to be a part of their lives. For caring enough to be with them. For asking questions when it would be easier not to. For loving them enough to be unpopular. It's hard being a great dad, but someone's got to do it. I think you'll be glad you did.