Every year for Father's Day, my family packs up the camper and heads to the lake for a long weekend. It's been a tradition for as long as I can remember and this year wasn't any different, despite the baby on board.
My parents headed up north for a week with their fifth wheel; my husband and I (and the puppies) pitched a tent to stay just the weekend (pregnant, sleeping on an air mattress with no air conditioning…'nuff said).
Camping as a kid was all about swimming, biking, friends, s'mores…but as an adult, it tends to also be about the cooking, the dishes, setting up the camper, building the fire, making sure the kids are happy, running to the grocery store and a hundred other things. Over Father's Day weekend, my dad worked to fix the boat, helped a friend fix their car, helped set up our tent, supervised the grill and fire…and I started to realize just how much behind-the-scenes work is involved in being a dad.
Sure, the mom is the one with carrying the extra 20 pounds in her stomach dealing with nausea, sleeplessness and a whole host of other symptoms, not to mention labor itself. But dads have to deal with the mood swings, tackle the cooking when smells are too nauseating, and have to deal with the fact that they have little control over what happens (not the pregnant women have any sort of control either, but dads also don't get to feel every kick, punch and twist the baby makes).
I grew up with a stay-at-home mom, which meant that my Dad was putting in 60 hours a week to take care of all the stuff that kids don't think about, like paying for those new toys. But he's not just a behind-the-scenes Dad either. I was a rather difficult, colicky baby, but for some reason when my mom was beyond frustrated with me and handed me off to Dad as soon as he got in the door, I calmed down a little. He was the one who helped me practice soccer and taught me to drive. In the throes of all-day sickness when I had about three things I could eat, he bought me a giant pack of jello.
And I can't thank my father-in-law enough for some of those heart-to-heart conversations that I know he's had with my husband back when we were dating, and now that we starting a family. I'm lucky to have both a dad and a dad-in-law who put their kids as a priority and have done countless things for us (and who both get along pretty well, considering my dad and my husband's dad now golf together every week).
I am extremely grateful that I grew up with two parents who had their priorities in the right place—and that I married a man with parents, who, like mine, are the sort of people we look up to as we become parents ourselves.
So, for Father's Day, even though the price tag wasn't anywhere near how much we value our Dads, we picked up the tools they asked for and spent a few hours with each of them. (Ever notice how, most of the time, what dads ask for for Father's Day is just going to involve more work for them? Like tools?) As we get ready to move into our new house as first time homeowners, I know that both of them are going to be a big help as we move and work on projects around the house—I know, because I've already recruited them for a few behind-the-scenes projects.