To all the dads out there…

You know who you are!  I salute you, dad, papa, father, or first name basis stepping in for the sperm donor who bailed (or mom who has always filled in for the dad that never stepped up).  Today is your day for acknowledgement and I honor you.

To the dads who said, the baby isn’t mine but I will help raise them anyway.
To the dads who said, the baby is mine and I will help raise them anyway.
To the dads who never questioned her decision to go through with the pregnancy (or not).
To the dads who supported moms during pregnancy and were at the appointments and sharing in the joy.
To the dads who made midnight runs for ice cream and cookies, burritos, or whatever other random ass shit the mother of their child wanted simply because she is the mother of your child and you respect, admire, and support the meaning of that.
To the dads who kept quiet when her hormones made her crazy simply because they know that she was going through a lot and they could appreciate their role.
To the dads who didn’t wait when she said she was in labor.
To the dads who didn’t just wait until the due date to get involved.
To the dads who realize that pregnancy is as important to fatherhood as postpartum fatherhood.
To the dads who got up in the middle of the night to help baby and mom.
To the dads who change diapers.
To the dads who took baby so mom could shower, toilet, eat, do anything by herself for a brief moment.
To the dads that cooked, cleaned, helped mom as much as they could those first few months.
To the dads who never stopped helping even though baby got bigger and more independent and mom didn’t “need” as much help.
To the dads who looked at themselves and tried to be better to give their kids the best they had.
To the dads who listen to their children.
To the dads who fight for their children.
To the dads who teach their children how to be good people.
To the dads who teach their children to respect people.
To the dads who teach their children to respect their mothers.
To the dads who respect their child’s mother.
To the dads who taught their children to be imaginative.
To the dads who never threatened their kids with violence.
To the dads who don’t believe a son has to earn his manhood.
To the dads who don’t believe a son is a man when he can outfight his dad and be more violent and intense than him.
To the dads who teaches his daughters that their worth is not in how attractive they are but in how much they love and respect themselves.
To the dads who let their children be themselves.
To the dads who let their children wear mis-matched clothing and costumes and the wrong gender’s colors or clothes even if it makes them nervous.
To the fathers who stuck by their child when they found out they were gay, got a tattoo, wanted to pierce their body, dated the “wrong” person, or went down any life path you weren’t happy about.
To the fathers that looked deep within themselves each time they were (and are) tested to find peace and grow with their children.
To the fathers that let their children teach them more than they try to teach their children.

Because fatherhood is not something you’re given and it’s not simply a title that means “some chick turned my sperm into a human.” Fatherhood is a title that you earn and you earn it again and again and again each day you show up and bring more joy and positivity into your child’s life.

Each day you continue to build a solid foundation for your child and respect them and love them just as they are so that one day your child will make their mark on the world and it will be a beautiful mark. So that when your child can affect other people as profoundly as they have affected you, it will be a beautiful and meaningful and uplifting affection.  Fatherhood is not toys and videos, it is the moments that happen in between.

Just because you show up at the right times does not mean you’re showing up for your child. Picking your child up and taking them to the toy store all while hurting their mother or mother figure is not parenthood and doesn’t make fatherhood. Fatherhood is not a checklist that you cross off your calendar. Fatherhood is not things just as it is not simply being biologically entitled to the result of your man juice.

Fatherhood is the moments that happen in between the rules, the lessons, the activities. Fatherhood is the gift of love, happiness, health, and acknowledgment to a tiny person who looks to you for answers.

Fatherhood is creating a child that is independent of yourself– not a clone of you. It’s raising a child that has been sufficiently empowered to pursue their dreams and can live autonomous of you. They aren’t a dumpster to put your life onto, fatherhood is the ability to work tirelessly for the rest of your life at raising someone who will never need you but who will want you to be there for them.

And fatherhood is the choice that tiny person makes when they make the card for you to say “thanks dad.” Kids never have to say “thank you” when they’re all grown and if you’re really a father, someday your child will look you square in the eyes and smile and say “thanks for everything, dad” instead of “fuck you.”

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