Sunday, June 17, 2012
Father's Day 2012
Though I have never been a father, I had one and I live with one and I divorced one, so I have some experience with what makes a good one and what makes a sperm donor just a sperm donor.
Having donated sperm, even if it's through direct deposit, does NOT make you a dad. It makes you the legal father and nothing more. If the laws were written truly with the child's best interest in mind, as they say they are, sperm donors would have zero rights. The reward for their donation was given at the time of the direct deposit. Nothing more is owed to them, in my opinion.
Now a dad is a whole different story. The man who holds the child to comfort or just to show love, the man who listens and advises, the man who teaches a child what a man is and how a man should behave, the man who didn't have to love yet chose to love is the dad. In some cases, this is the sperm donor, in some cases, not. It doesn't matter. In both cases, the dad is the man who loved the child unconditionally by choice.
My favorite childhood memory of my own dad is such a simple thing, one has to wonder why it stands out in my head. I was about 9 or 10 and got a giant chalk board for Christmas. My dad had written on it..."Merry Christmas to Joansy Lee Lee Settle". I don't know why that was such a big deal to me, but it was. I still recall the excitement of seeing those words written by Dad on my new chalk board. Silly? Probably, but it said my dad loved me. It said I was important enough to warrant his time and the sentiment was all for me. Only he ever called me that silly name and I loved it. I loved my daddy as most little girls do, but I was a Momma's Girl and still am. The outstanding things about my dad were not big deals; rather common everyday things. Long car trips would find us eating in diners along the road where trucks were parked, the best food would be found there, Dad said. The ever repeated, "If you have to use the bathroom, use it now, I'm not stopping in 5 miles!" meant nothing. If someone needed to stop in 5 miles, he would do so with a proper amount of grumbling and moaning about how he told us to use the bathroom and he wasn't happy now. Every trip included backseat arguments because 3 kids in one bench seat for 7 hours to the grandparents house is going to include arguments. He would usually yell, "Shut up and enjoy this trip!" That still makes me smile. Somehow, shut up and have fun seems good advice, but maybe a different delivery would have been good! Dad wasn't known for his finesse.
Through most of my teenage years he was an absent dad. He drove truck and was gone most of the week. I have some memories of trips to town with him on week-ends to run errands. He didn't stop at the dime store, like Mom did, he just did what needed to be done and maybe got me a coke or candy bar, but no side trips. I liked going with him because he didn't treat me like a kid, exactly. It was more like I was his buddy for those few minutes that we were on the road. Hard to explain, but I liked it and I remember it. He sometimes let me drive home at age 14, but I couldn't tell Mom.
Unlike me, my kids were not raised most of their lives by their father. They were raised by their Dad. He chose to help me parent my children and I chose to help him parent his. We have no regrets about that. He is the man both my children refer to as their dad. He loves them the same as his own, they are his own now. He walked my daughter down the aisle and he loves the grandchildren his step~children have given us exactly the same as he loves the grandchildren his genetically related boys have given us. I do, too. Our grandchildren are all our grandchildren. It's a choice we made years ago with the birth of our first who turns 23 this fall. (omg...23!)
I am eternally grateful to this man who shares my life and loves. Everyday he lives is a blessing to each of us in one way or the other. He has taken into his heart two children he didn't have to 'own'. He took on a very difficult job because he wanted to and he did the best job anyone could have done. In return, he has gained more love than he ever could give. He is respected and admired and honored for all he has given and all he is as a man, father and husband to their mother. He has earned this by being a good man with an unlimited capacity to love.
Happy Father's Day to him and our sons and to our father's who have gone before, our respect and love eternally.