I recently made the point in this space that among my many talents, commemorating special occasions with thoughtful prose on greeting cards is not one of them.
Ironic, I know, especially because as a child, I thought that working for Hallmark would be a wonderful way to make a living since my mother always cried whenever she read my cards to her. Now, however, I know that mothers can cry over any number of things their children do, including scratching themselves in the school play.
I’m the one who usually goes for the Peanuts card that reads: “Happiness is a kiss on the nose . . .” or the one with the purple lilacs that says “Our love for you will not abate, for all eternity I will wait . . .”
I mean, how can you beat that?
Underneath, I’ll scrawl my feeble thanks to my husband for being such a wonderful father to our children, that I could not hope for one any better.
I rationalize that there really are no words to adequately capture feelings like these on the inside of a greeting card anyway.
I mean, how do you thank a person for flying across the country with your very small children to meet you at NBA Finals and Super Bowls he would never come close to actually seeing, just so you would not have to be away from them for too long?
I remember at least one of those trips taken in the middle of potty training. And by “in the middle,” I mean it was not yet completed even though like many parents, I imagine, we made the mistake of thinking that if we wished for it hard enough and bribed the child long enough, somehow it would magically just happen.
I remember the hotel room in which the training failed, and I remember walking in just seconds after the clean-up to find only a sheepish grin on both daddy and child.
I know that mothers possess many great qualities but that fathers, or at least my children’s father, is the parent with the patience to sit through 613 straight episodes of “Sponge Bob” or worse, when it’s the only thing that makes a sick child happy.
If only fatherhood could be summed up on a greeting card or captured in a highlight reel. Rather it’s a million moments spread out over a lifetime. It’s the hockey games in the basement with pillows tied to your shins; amusement parks constructed of K’Nex and condominiums from Legos . It’s the weekend mornings spent coloring at the kitchen table and keeping beauty shop appointments where your toenails are painted pink, your hair combed against the grain and little hands tickled rather than massaged.
It’s resisting the urge to protest the first time your son doesn’t want to kiss you in front of his friends, and biting back tears the first time a boy likes your baby girl and she likes him back. It’s preferring to be home with your kids over any golf course in the world, and never calling it “babysitting.”
It’s knowing every teacher’s name and after-school activity and carpool schedule and lunch preference without having to ask, and being able to remind your wife whenever necessary.
Once, when our daughter was four and Rick had to leave town for one night on his first-ever business trip, he was nearly out the door when Amanda ran to him and wrapped herself around his legs.
“Daddy,” she cried in desperation, “does mommy know what to do?”
He always did.
And I’m thinking that might make a nice Father’s Day card.Read Melissa on ESPNChicago.com.