I’ve never found a Father’s Day gift guide that offered up anything my husband would like. He likes beer, but isn’t a connoisseur. He wouldn’t go gaga over barbecue tools. He doesn’t wear ties, except to weddings. He’s a sports fanatic, but more as a statistician than a rabid fan of any one team or player. He’s got all the gadgets he needs (as far as I’m concerned).
We’ve been together nearly 15 years, so you’d think I’d have figured out what kind of gift would surprise and delight him, but I struggle with it every year. But the truth is that he doesn’t care. I mean, he likes gifts as much as the next person, but he’s not a person who is overly concerned with material things. This should make me feel better, but it only makes me more determined to surprise him with something that will make him smile. He smiles, no matter what.
You know what makes me smile? Him. Not every single day—let’s be real. It’s not all wine and roses (though we occasionally get to share a popcorn at the Cineplex), but even on the frustrating days or weeks, I’m so grateful to have a guy like this to share the load with, to debrief the crazy with and to kiss goodnight. People have told me that I’m lucky. I used to respond that I wasn’t lucky, that I chose the kind of guy who would be my partner in this life and luck had nothing to do with it. But I know I’m totally lucky.
I didn’t know the half of it until we had kids. I remember on our first wedding anniversary, I was pregnant with our first daughter. He had a necklace made for me (which I’ve since lost—sob!), and he gave me a card that talked about us as a team and how no matter what we faced in this life, we’d do it that way (I told you he was a sports guy). Maybe it doesn’t sound romantic, but it was powerful. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
I wrote just last week about how we divvy up housework, but Sean is also an amazing dad. He’s here for our two girls, walking them to school, building forts, taking them to lessons and games, reading bedtime stories, playing with them and the neighbourhood kids out in the driveway. Again, I fully expected this of him, but you never know the qualities that kids will bring out in you, or what demands will get in the way of your best intentions. He doesn’t let them. Our kids have no idea how lucky they are, but they do know they are loved and cherished completely. For all the things we stumble through and fail at, I’m proud that our team has accomplished this feat.
Our kids are eight and five, a stage people often say is the “golden age” of parenting; they’re old enough to be more independent, but young enough to still want to hang out with us. This is the good stuff. We’ve tackled a lot of obstacles to get here and endured many tests of our resolve, our patience, our commitment to our values. We’ve seen other relationships around us crumble, and it’s made us hold onto each other more tightly, and reconfirm what we want and don’t want. We look at this point in time as a bit of a reward, a chance to sit back and breathe and take in a sunset or two before the preteen years kick in and shake things up again.
This weekend is a chance to shower Sean with the appreciation we feel but don’t always say, to give him a break, to spoil him. He deserves that and more. I haven’t found the perfect thing to wrap up for him, but no matter. He’ll be thrilled with whatever we cook up, even if it’s with those old barbecue tools. He thinks of me as the MVP of this team, but I feel the same about him. That’s the thing about a team—each member has a chance to shine, everyone messes up from time to time, but we’re always there to pick each other up and face the next challenge together. That’s what I’ve learned from him. Yep—I’m damn lucky.
Follow along as Today’s Parent senior editor Tracy Chappell shares her refreshingly positive take on parenting her two young daughters. She’s been blogging her relatable experiences for our publication since 2005. Read more of her Tracy’s mama memoir posts and tweet her@T_Chappell.