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June 16, 2016

To my Male Friends who became Fathers: Thank You.

kanonn https://www.flickr.com/photos/kanonn/2533555653/in/photolist-

I remember the summer days, being “one of the guys,” when we would hang out at the beach.

And there were the summer nights of house parties that I do not remember quite as clearly. I remember all the girls you dated and brought to “band practice” in someone’s garage. I remember the spirited playfulness of Ultimate Frisbee in the elementary school yard at dusk and the discussion of a spiritual universe as we watched the sun come up at dawn. I remember you guys when you were young and rowdy and just trying to figure it all out and I was the girl who fit in.

We survived our twenties (somehow) and settled in our thirties with jobs and marriages and eventually with children. We have remained friends, some now with distance and a few even closer as the years went by. And now in our forties I look around.

I just want to take a moment to tell you how proud I am of the men, and specifically the dads, you have become.

We were the generation raised by single mothers and part-time fathers. Most of us were passed from mom’s house to dad’s, sometimes with stepfamilies in the mix. Some of us rarely saw our father’s at all. The vast majority of us were loyal to our moms and angry with our dads and many of us carried the guilt of their divorces and the eventual two opposing households. Very, very few of our friends were in different situations. This was the foundation to family that we were given and most of us hated it, but this is all we knew.

I remember the conversations about the lives we would live one day. We didn’t know how we would get from where we were to where we wanted to be, but we would never be our parents. We would be married and never divorce and when we had kids, no one was leaving. We would do better.

Well, not everything worked out as all of us planned.

Some of us divorced despite our best intentions. Some of us remarried, some of us didn’t. But one thing we have followed through on, we didn’t leave. You didn’t leave. Our kids, despite any circumstances within our control, have two involved parents.

You are the dads who take your kids to the park and push them on the swings without your cell phones in your hands. You are the ones sitting and waiting for your girls at ballet, or violin, or STEM class, coaching them in soccer or softball. You take your boys to the zoo and teach them to ride their bikes (with helmets on).

But more importantly, you play dress-up and Legos, read stories and sing songs, you take your children to school and cook them dinner and put them to bed at night. You know the names of their friends, but you don’t try to be one of them. You are the parent, the role model, the father.

When you speak of your lives, it isn’t always blissful.

Your marriages, if still intact, are not always happy. Some of you would even leave to find a happier relationship if life was less complicated. But each and every one of you speak of your commitment to your children.

You will never leave your children. Even if you divorce, you will stay involved and make the situation work, because your kids will never be in the middle of your relationship’s turmoil. Your kids will always know they are loved and you don’t let them carry any responsibility when it comes to adults and their troubles. You are creating a generation of children who know nothing of single parenthood, even if their parents choose not to be together.

You proudly post pictures on social media of your children, but more importantly you post pictures of you and your children together. You are present and involved and so very proud of who they are and your place in it all. You are the fathers you said you would be. From the summer nights in our teens to this summer in our forties, you have done exactly what you said you would do.

You became the dads you didn’t have.

You are changing the world by actively loving your children the way you do. You are actually role models to entire generation. And I am so very proud that you men are still my circle of friends.

Happy Father’s Day!

You are fathers every day of the year and you make a difference.

~

Author: Andrea Byford

Image: kanonn / Flickr

Editors: Sara Kärpänen; Caitlin Oriel

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Andrea Byford