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Challenge: Life Changes

Paving Your Own Way

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When my husband's father found out his mom was pregnant, the whoosh of the door behind his back could barely be heard. He was gone that fast.

Shane grew up in the projects with his single mother and two sisters. All three fathers abandoned their children, leaving my mother-in-law alone to raise them on a waitress's salary.

It's not hard to guess that a male role model was hard to come by.

My husband is a veteran of the 82nd Airborne. He's a strong man, but his body is now about twenty years older than he is. Without my education level, it was clear that he would never make as much as me, so he became our stay at home parent, six short weeks after my return to work.

We're parents, right? So we know that full days with a child are hard. Parenting is physically and emotionally draining. We second-guess everything we do. We cry. A lot. With no father to pave the way, Shane has researched the best he can, but parenting is a game we often have to figure out ourselves. Just imagine having to do it completely alone, with chronic back pain, and that's what our dada does for us day in and day out.

Father's Day is coming up. Up until now, Shane has never once celebrated it — but now we get to celebrate him. We celebrate surviving the sleepless nights and grumpy, tantrum-filled days. We celebrate the kisses and cuddles and boo boo band aids. My daughter knows her father will always be there to pick her up when she falls. She knows she has someone there to laugh when she farts, and someone to teach her boundaries when she goes too far.

My daughter has the father my husband will never know. Sometimes, for medical reasons, I hope he'll reach out to us. It would be nice not to have half of her family medical history blank. I'm not sure we'll ever get that information. Maybe it doesn't matter. Because that man left, we were gifted with a man who doesn't take being a father for granted. We're lucky, in that way.

Shane is a stay at home dad — one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs in the world. His body is a little broken. Our minds are a little more scrambled. Our hearts have never known a complete love quite like the one we've carved out for ourselves.

So I wish a happy Father's Day to all the hard-working dads out there. You sacrifice a lot. You give all of yourself, and then are asked to give more. You dig deep, and break down, and rise from the ashes a new man, a better man, time and time again.

Please know how grateful we are. We love you, Dad!

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