After losing my father in 2018, I thought every Father’s Day after would be unbearable. Last year, the very first Father’s Day without Daddy, I was sad that he was no longer here, but he left my sisters and me with a lifetime of memories and lessons to help us carry on without him.
Even now, just thinking about Daddy makes me smile. I was blessed to have a wonderful father – nurturing and encouraging and pushy and sometimes overbearing. However, even those little things that drove my sisters and me crazy over the years – surprise home redecorating, nagging about messy laundry rooms, and his obsession with the smallest of things (laundry rooms, for example) – are now endearing and something we miss fiercely.
Not everyone can say they were blessed with a wonderful father. But I’m lucky, I got blessed with two wonderful fathers in my life, my own and the father of my son.
My husband Keith is an amazing father to our son, Dean. When Dean is grown, he will be able to look back and know that he too was blessed with a doting father who was an active and excited participant in his life.
Because Keith and I both work full-time, parenting in our house is a team effort, and it has to be or no one would eat or have clean clothes to wear. We just kind of picked up on certain roles based on our personalities and strengths.
When Dean was a baby, Keith was in charge of bath time. It was a much better fit since Keith was better at judging when Dean planned to pee on him while sprawled in the baby tub. Keith was also the master of swaddling. He could swaddle Dean so tight, he looked like a chubby cheeked burrito lying in his cradle.
The day we brought Dean home from the hospital, Keith informed me that he would get up with Dean during the night because I had to carry him around for nine months. Yes, ladies, that is correct. Keith got up for that middle-of-the-night feeding every night when Dean was a baby. He said he saw that time with Dean as their time to bond. Even to this day, Dean can lay down with Keith on the sofa, and if he gets still, he will fall fast asleep.
As Dean got older, Keith and I watched with glorious anticipation all the little milestones Dean reached – rolling over, crawling, walking, talking, and even potty training. I guess we might have overdone it because Dean began looking over at us for the most mundane accomplishments in search of applause and a possible photo op.
All the while Dean was meeting all his little milestones, Keith was planning of all the things they would do together in the future – hunting, Mississippi State football games, watching pickers pick cotton, little league, and high school football. And as Dean gets older, more and more of those things come to fruition.
Keith even took Dean hunting this past deer season. Dean lasted about three minutes in the deer stand before wanting to take pictures of himself in the stand, in front of the stand, on the four-wheeler, by the tree, and so on. Keith was okay with that, and happy as a clam that Dean went hunting with him.
Dean even went to a Mississippi State football game with Keith this year (lower level because Mommy is neurotic). He was ready to go by the middle of the first quarter, but luckily it was a non-SEC game and MSU took an early lead. They were back in the Junction before halftime.
Dean particularly likes to go with Keith to Mississippi State baseball games, and he has become a fan of Jake Mangum, who kindly signed his tailgate chair. Dean even picked number 15 as his competitive baseball number because of Mangum. His favorite part of baseball games? The bounce houses. But he goes, and he loves it.
Since his very first year in tee ball, Keith has helped coached the team. And when we decided to sign him up for soccer, Keith watched a YouTube video about how to coach soccer and signed up as an assistant coach. This summer, he signed Dean up to play competitive ball in the six-year-old age group, and it was very clear from the first day, Keith was much more excited than Dean – and Dean loves baseball.
With Dean’s education, we have to tag team. My work schedule keeps me running, so Keith takes charge on the homework front with sight words and math worksheets. He is also a regular chaperone for field trips. I think Keith enjoyed the big slide at Bull Bottom Farms better than Dean did.
And recently, when they visited Yogi on the Lake Park for the Ferguson family reunion, Dean did not have to slide down the waterslides alone – Keith was right there, laughing as they hurdled down the curlicue slides.
Sometimes it feels like I have two children the way they fight and fuss with each other. It never fails that a play wrestling match is going to turn into a fight with someone stomping off in a huff when they go too far. And the teasing! Both can dish it out, but neither can take it.
It never fails that I have to use my “Mom” voice to stop the bickering, and I have threatened to ground both of them several times.
As Dean gets older, I hope he realizes how lucky he is to have a father who not only loves him more than life itself but a father who genuinely enjoys spending time with him and cheering him on as he meets all those little milestones. Dean has the best playmate ever as well as a terrific role model and cheerleader.
What a blessing for them both.
Go spend time with your dad. For those of us who no longer have that opportunity, what we would give for a few more minutes with ours. Enjoy every second.
Happy Father’s Day.