I'm writing this on the 21st anniversary of my own father's death. That death was both the end and a beginning, as is always the case. An end to the struggles my father had, created, and all the ways those struggles rippled. His death brought forth the opportunity to put a period at the end of that story, and begin the process of healing, re-evaluation, and ultimately, compassion and forgiveness.
I knew what kind of father I would choose for my own children. Not only would my ultimate husband and father to my kids be addiction-free, he would be funny. He would be kind. He would be a good provider. He would be intentional in his parenting. He would co-parent. He would be heavily invested and involved in the emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being of our kids.
I didn't know that between our two children we would face autism spectrum disorder, eczema, flat feet, scoliosis, pectus excavatum ("funnel chest"), secondary anorexia, amblyopia, depression, anxiety, OCD, allergies, ADHD, and those are just the ones that are share-able and on the tip of my tongue.
I didn't know there were that many kinds of therapists.
I didn't know that no matter how much we earned and saved, our kids' needs would surpass whatever we had.
I didn't know that my ability to earn would be cut short, and my husband's ability would have to magically increase.
I didn't know that smoke, mirrors, and pulling rabbits out of hats, was required.
I didn't know that instead of throwing a ball in the backyard, my husband would be down on his knees doing Floortime.
I didn't know that instead of coaching one of his own kids in the sport he loved, excelled in and lived for for many years, he would coach other people's kids, and I would stay home with ours.
I didn't know that instead of taking trips, recreating, having adventures, like he had hoped and dreamed, he would make candles in the basement, watch endless reels of Elmo singing, "Yo, Five," and listen for the ice cream truck.
I didn't know that instead of going, having, seeing and doing, he would stay, go without, miss and skip.
I didn't know that a refusal to quit, perseverance, fortitude, stamina and sheer grit (all the same things that made him a successful athlete) would be the biggest job requirements.
I didn't know that humor wasn't a bonus, it was essential.
What I know now, is there is nothing like having both your kids working in the fields they love, and thriving. To see them earn their own money, and generously share it with others, is one of life's greatest joys. To witness them being kind, funny, helpful, thoughtful and good, is the truest reward.
What I know is I got the father for my children I wanted, and they needed, and we are blessed.