Yesterday was Father’s Day, and we all wanted to spend it celebrating Lance. We had a plan to make him breakfast in bed, the children made him Father’s Day cards and Noah chose a gift, a really good gift that is exactly what Lance would want. We had a plan to pack up a night picnic and take him to see some jazz at the park. It didn’t exactly work out the way we’d hoped (a story for another day), but the point is Lance deserves to be celebrated, and the kids and I wanted to give him a special day. He is patient and kind, doesn’t overreact or freak out like I do when Noah laughs maniacally and tells us he’s going to “circle-saw people up today.” He spends time thinking about our children’s wellbeing, cares about their education, brainstorms ways to make himself a better, more consistent parent, believes strongly in gender equality and children’s rights, and basically just kinda rolls with the punches of parenting.
Like, literally. The other day Noah punched him right in the balls. Lance had calmly asked him to wash his hands for lunch, and in response our darling son punched his gentle, loving father right in the nutsack. I was all yelling my head off at Noah about how we don’t hit and especially not a private area and that really hurt Daddy, and if he was going to respond that way he could just skip lunch altogether. But Lance was like, “Dude, you’re being a little harsh.” That pissed me off. After all, they were HIS balls I was taking up for, so I threw up my hands. “You don’t care about your own testicles? Fine! Why should I yell at Noah about YOUR balls when you don’t even seem to care to discipline him about it!?” And Lance was all “I said ‘OW‘.”
Yup. That’s what I love about Lance’s parenting style. It takes a lot to make him angry. And even when he IS angry, he isn’t mad at the kids. He doesn’t think they’re going to turn out to be psycho killers. He doesn’t respond emotionally. He never arbitrarily doles out threats like I do. (No lunch? Yeah right. Noah saw through that immediately. In fact I think I heard him snort at me as he sauntered off to wash his hands, the little turd.) Unlike me, Lance never holds grudges. Sometimes I need a time-out, but Lance always just seems to be able to shake it off. In other words, he’s the exact opposite of me in many ways. And that’s a good thing.
(Not that I don’t think he should have reacted a LITTLE bit more to being punched in the crotch.) (Not that I gave him a chance, since I swooped in with my hand on my hip and my idle threats.)
I should also mention that while I scrolled through countless hyperbolic facebook posts yesterday about how everyone’s dad AND husband are THE MOST AMAZING DADS EVER IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD I couldn’t help but roll my eyes a little. A lot. It was like scroll, read, roll eyes, repeat. People. I appreciate your sentiment, I truly do. But I don’t believe you. EVERYONE CAN’T BE THE BEST. Everyone has their shitty parenting moments. The honest truth is Lance is not the best father in the entire world. I have looked outside to see him pushing the kids on the swing while staring at his phone. I have overheard him trying to explain concepts of morality that are WAY beyond a two and four-year-old’s brain capacities instead of simply correcting their behavior. Unlike me, who can think of little else, he seems painfully unaware of how quickly our children are growing up; I find him checking out on an electronic device more often than not. (Most of the time he’s posting a picture he just took of our kids to Instagram, ironically.) He doesn’t seem to understand the concept of picking battles; he starts with a single “no” and quickly gets lost in a swirling vortex of “don’t do that”s that end in one mad-ass four-year-old who takes out his aggression on a certain father’s ballsac. And he is laid back to a fault; last weekend I went to a good friend’s baby shower and stayed overnight in Birmingham and when Lance texted me good morning he confessed that Violet woke up at 5am and he’d given her a banana and stuck her in front of Daniel Tiger. When he woke up with Noah at 7:30, Violet was still watching that damn tiger, eyes swirling, mouth slightly ajar, drooling, limply holding a banana peel in her hand, brains slowly oozing out her ears. (Ok, I made up that visual. But I’m positive that’s what she’d look like after TWO AND A HALF HOURS OF TELEVISION. Including the brains.)
Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Why must we pretend everything is so perfect? Social media has made us into liars, man. There’s no such thing as the best parent in the entire world. There is no “perfect father,” just as there is not a “perfect mother.” Instagram creates a pretty little half-true picture because I rarely post pictures of myself screaming at my kids while brandishing a wooden spoon. Rarely. I also rarely post (or take, for that matter) photos of my children having epic meltdowns because I told them they couldn’t have another piece of chocolate cake or watch just one more episode of Dinosaur Train. My videos are not of them whining and me losing my patience because I quite nicely asked them to put on their shoes so we could head to the park. To meet friends. And have a picnic that I just packed us. And take pictures that will end up on Instagram. (Idea: “It’s the Circle of Social Media Lies,” sung to the tune of Elton John’s classic from The Lion King) I can say with honesty that I’m trying my best, and I can say with certainty that Lance is trying his best. He’s not THE BEST, THE MOST wonderful, THE MOST amazing. But he is giving it his all.
And he is wonderful. He is exactly what I want. He is exactly what his children need. We are navigating these choppy parenting waters together with our two guinea pigs, Noah and Violet, who see and hear us argue when we disagree with one another’s choices. Lance (and his balls) is the best dad I could ask for for my kids. (Get it? Cause the kids? You know…? Came from sperm? You get it.) He loves his children with all his heart. He spends ALL of his free time at home, with us. He’s had his fair share of lone bedtime routines as I spend at least three nights a month at the theatre (and that’s when I’m NOT in a show). Yet, unlike myself, he never complains. Never acts tired of being dad to our babies. He is moved to tears almost as often as I when they do something kind; he is as livid as I when they have been hurt emotionally or physically; he is fiercely protective of them. When he comes home our kids squeal with joy, run to him, jump into his arms, squeeze him tight, chatter to him about their days. He never withholds affection from them, and he squeezes them tightly right back when he walks through the front door. He lets our kids be who they are, never expecting them to adhere to social norms, never so much as raising an eyebrow when they’re running around the front yard stark, raving naked. When they grow up I believe wholeheartedly that they will remember a father who sacrificed for their happiness, a father who loved them with all of his being. I can’t imagine raising kids with anyone else. He’s not a superhero; he’s a human. He’s showing our kids what it means to live a real life full of mistakes and flaws and as much joy and love as one can muster.
So, with all that said… Happy Father’s Day to the best, most wonderful father in the entire world. No, really.