A happy father's day

The night before our son was born, it became clear that he was coming. At first we stayed at home, playing a few games and talking and timing the contractions. When the process became more intense, we went to the hospital and began what was a long night of work for my wife. I stayed with her through the night, and our son was born right at noon the next day. His birth day was a Sunday. I had three services that day and the timing of his birth meant that I missed all three. We did have a leadership pan in place, so the services were held with other leaders. It was the beginning of a process that continued for many years. We, as parents, missed sleep and had our sleep interrupted, and the fact that I was a father had an impact on my professional life.

The day that we picked up our daughter in anticipation of her adoption, I stayed up most of the night. I had driven a long distance and we had stopped for the night in a motel. We had a motel crib in the corner of the room and my wife and son were sleeping, but I was too excited to sleep. I kept getting up and looking at that tiny baby sleeping in the corner. I wasn’t really afraid that there was a problem, but it was reassuring to watch her breath in and out. In the weeks to come, she was to prove herself very capable of disrupting sleep. Unlike our son, who had learned to sleep all the way through the night early in his life, our daughter woke frequently. Because he was adopted, we fed her formula, which meant that I was as capable of night time feeding as her mother. So there were lots and lots of night when I would be up with the baby, changing, feeding and rocking her.

She was keeping me up at night well into her early twenties when I would worry when she didn’t return home at the time I expected. For much of my life, I have associated interrupted sleep with the role of being a father.

Father’s Day is always a Sunday, so I have always associated Father’s Day with our life in the church. Our celebrations usually were in the afternoon or evening and mainly consisted of some special activities with the children. We’d go to a park or take a walk or sometimes take a canoe to the lake.

These days the high point of father’s day usually has to do with the telephone or computer. Our children live far away from our home, but they are very attentive to their father. They know how much I love their calls. And we have the technology of video on our phones and computers which makes the experience even more fun. Yesterday I could watch as our son was playing with his two daughters at the park. His father’s day involved having special time with each of his three children, and his son and wife were doing an activity together to give him some time to be with his daughters at the time we called.

Our five-year-old granddaughter is now capable of holding the phone and having a conversation with us and she will hold the phone up to the two-year-old so we can see and speak with her as well.

One of the deepest pleasures of being a father is he joy of watching my son be a good father to his children. Not only is he attentive and responsible for their care, but, like me, he really enjoys his children and takes great delight in being with them. He always has really fun stories to tell me about his children and their activities and adventures.

And now our daughter is expecting and soon we will have a grandchild in her home as well. I have no doubt that she will be an excellent mother and that watching her in the role of parent will be a deep pleasure for me.

The thing about being a father or a mother is that it is a 24 hour a day, 365 days per year job (366 in leap year!). And it is a role that once assumed never ends. When our children grew up and launched from our home into their adult lives, I didn’t feel any less distant, any less responsible or any less caring. I don’t feel a need for a special father’s day because every day is filled with the joys of being a father. I’m grateful that our children are always very good about wishing me a happy father’s day when the holiday comes around, but they are also very good about keeping in touch and giving me their love on other days as well.

I never experienced raising children as a sacrifice. Yes, our children were high priorities in our lives, but I never felt like caring for them was something I didn’t want to do. I got up in the middle of the night because I wanted to. I spent time with our children because it was a very good way to spend my time. I can’t think of any investment I’ve ever made that gave me more pleasure than investing in our children’s education. I’ve bought vehicles and equipment and books and a couple of houses over the years, but nothing has given me continuing pleasure and pride of ownership like our children’s education. I see the return on the investment every day. I’m so glad our son got the education that he did. I’m so proud of our daughter’s education and vocation. Nothing I’ve ever invested in has given a deeper, longer-lasting or more impactful return.

When our children and grandchildren wished me “Happy Father’s Day” yesterday, I thanked them and I told them that I am a really happy father. Life has been good to me. Our children have been good to me. Our grandchildren have been good to me. And I know that whatever is to come nothing will take away the joy of being a father.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!