My dad taught me how to change the oil in my car. He made me cut the grass - even with the rickety, old push mower. He made me move the limbs that fell from the oak trees in our yard.
He spent hot August afternoons burning the unruly shrubs and brush in our yard. He worked 70-80 hours a week through the humid Maryland summers at the golf course, then came home and cut our grass.
My dad sat me down one day with a Victoria's Secret magazine, and showed me that the girls on those pages had flaws if you looked close enough; he reminded me that nobody looks "perfect", but that I was beautiful.
My dad did stuff.
My husband comes home from work everyday, peels off his suit, and rough houses with our children upstairs. He sits down on the bathroom floor with a bottle of detangler and a comb, and consoles my daughter while he brushes through the knots in her fine hair.
He gets up with the kids on Saturday mornings, and has breakfast with them. He takes my son fishing. He reads the same Little Critter book three times in a row if need be, and teaches my children the Lord's Prayer.
My husband does stuff.
I know growing up that I found comfort in the love of my mom. In her nursing me well when I was sick. In her sitting down with me to work on a school project or in hauling me around to friend's houses on the weekends.
Back then, my dad was sort of an anomaly to me. There was an air of mystery to him. I wasn't as inside of his head as I was my mom's.
It's kind of like that for me as a mom. There are no lines of separation, especially now that my children are small. Whether I'm in the kitchen or in the bathroom, they always find me, and they come right in. Mom is never off limits.
I know how hard it is to be a mom. I'm the full-time stay at home parent in our home. There is no privacy. There is hardly any resting on your laurels.
And yet, I cannot imagine being my husband.
I remember the crunch of the 9 to 5 (really 7:30-6) workday before the children came. The answering of the phones. The answering the same questions over and over again. The appeasing people, and making them happy. And the occasional instances where, no matter what, you can't make them happy.
Now, I only know staying home with my children, and thank goodness for that. Because I could never do both. I'd be run through.
But my husband does both. My father did both.
That I cannot fathom.
They answer the call of the work force and walk out the door to go and be somebody. Then they come home, and they ARE somebody.
And the best working dads make it look effortless.
For as long as my father's days were, as my husbands are, they didn't and don't bat an eyelash when they are needed here at home. I think that is the key.
Dads who work are at their best when they don't let the world, or the workforce, get the best of them. When they are spent and exhausted, but save the best of themselves for their children.
My husband is an incredibly talented man. There is hardly anything that he couldn't do if he puts his mind to it. But the thing he is most skilled at is being a father.
He is a pro at capitalizing on the moments that don't go perfectly, and using them as teaching opportunities. He makes my children help out around the house and instills in them the need to have pride in all that they do. He reminds them that compassion will get you much further than being judgmental.
He makes it look effortless, when in all actuality, I know that there are days when that is not the case. He tells me so. But to me, it seems like he is an endless fountain of patience. He has to leave every day in the morning, but I know that he'd rather be home with us.
And, most importantly, my children know that, too. He may be exhausted and burnt out, but even then, they know that their father always has time for them.
So, while the leaving is hard, and the days apart are long, my children are comforted knowing that daddy will be home soon. That he will be glad to see them.
Dads are just as constant as moms, only they often don't get the credit that they deserve for being so. I get to be home and watch my children take their first steps, say their first words, laugh hysterically at their reflection in the mirror, or color inside the lines for the first time.
Dads who work don't always get that luxury.
In many ways, children can take for the granted the love of their mom.
Moms are always present, always running around for them, always serving them, there is no doubt that it is all an act of love, and that it is love that compels her to be all that she is to them. That love can always feel constant, it's like a gently humming in the background of long days and nights.
To children, dads are both a father and their first friend.
Dads take on the task knowing that they might not always get to see the firsts or the funnest parts. But they don't complain. They do the stuff that they have to do anyway. And they live and work for those perfect moments at home.
Great dads make the best of those moments.
And get back up and do it all again the next day.