The Gift of Daddy

I wrote this five years ago, but if anything, it is more true today. One of the sweetest, most beautiful miracles I have ever witnessed is the transformation of Corey into Daddy. I wanted to share it here again, to honor God's grace. Just ignore all the dated time references, and pretend that I've written touching things about Corey interacting with Teyla and Kieran too. I trust y'all to be that awesome.

My husband has one of the most unique stories of anyone I've ever met.

He was adopted from a foreign country at the age of ... well, we don't know his age. He thinks he was about eight. American doctors put his age at six. ("No, wait, maybe seven. Could he be eight? Oh, let's just stick with six.") His earliest memories are of living on the streets as a gutter rat. He stole food to survive and didn't have a home or a family. He was also subjected to constant abuse and scorn because he is a half-breed and the son of an American solider.

It was truly a miracle when a kind woman alerted an Lutheran orphanage in his city that a child who looked part American was living on the streets. Shortly after he was taken in by the orphanage, he was adopted by a couple in Minnesota.

His parents loved him dearly, and his father in particular made sure my husband had "boy adventures" growing up. He got to spend countless weekends in the wilderness, exploring, camping and fishing. He played every sport imaginable. His dad never missed a game.

Yet, for all the love, my husband and his dad are incredibly different people. His Dad is a phlegmatic through and through. Until he retired last year, he had worked at the same job his whole life. He lived in the same house for more than 30 years. His main motives in life are peace and quiet.

And my husband? Who skydives? And scuba dives? And has broken almost every bone in his body while becoming a black-belt in martial arts? And who hasn't worked at a company for more than four years, since he thrives on starting up new ones? Needless to say, he's not phlegmatic.

Put it all together, and you end up with two males who love each other but don't understand each other. My husband loved (and still loves) his Dad, but they are so different, they had a had time relating outside of sports and fishing.

Skip ahead about 20 years, and you'll find my husband today.

It would be completely understandable if my husband struggled with fatherhood. He would tell you himself that he's just now comprehending what "family" really means. After 14 years of marriage, he's starting to learn to trust me and let me in. He never really knew the innocence of childhood, so who could blame him if he was impatient with the quirks of young children?

But when our daughter was born five (almost six) years ago, I watched the most amazing transformation. I watched a man who had been completely alone all his life -- even in his adopted family, even in our marriage -- fall completely in love with our baby. From the very beginning, he was wrapped around her little finger. He was stunned by the protective feelings he had for her, by the delight he would feel just by watching her coo.

She was the only person in the world that he knew that was "flesh of his flesh."

And then our son came along, about two years later. And I watched him fall in love all over again.

Today, he is one of the best fathers I know. (And that's saying a lot, since my Dad did an incredible job raising me and my three siblings. We grew up in a virtual cocoon of love and protection, where we were stretched and strengthened and known.) My husband is the star of our family. Our kids think he is the biggest goof ever. ("I told you he was funny," our daughter shrieked to her kindergarten class when my husband put on small sunglasses.) When they hear the garage door go up on the days he's coming home, they shout, "Dad's here!" and they run for the door and throw their little bodies at his.

Our daughter recently started wearing dresses, because my husband said they looked so nice on her, and every time she puts one on, she runs to get his approval. "Do you think I'm beautiful, Daddy?" And he gets down and gives her a big hug and says, "You are beautiful, Natalie."

And our son, who is three, loves to wrestle with Dad and race Dad and explore outside with Dad. He delights in beating him in a game. (In our house, Dad always loses.) They have their own catchphrases.

"Dude, you rock." "No, Dad, you rock."

"Dude, you're a stud." "No, Dad. I not a stud. I Connor."

And "Shell. Noggin. Dude." (From "Finding Nemo," a favorite in our house.)

I'm so proud of my husband and the father he is to our children. I can't imagine anyone doing a better job.
And because it wouldn't be a Father's Day without me including a picture of me and my own father, here's one circa 1972. Love you, Dad. Thanks for building a foundation of God for me. On it, I stand strong.