From the very beginning Andrew has been a complete natural at this whole fatherhood thing. Before the Boy was born, Andrew read to him almost every night out of what has become their favorite book together, The Jesus Storybook Bible. He prepared for the birth with lots of prayer and much anticipation, and read a book on how to coach me through labor so he could save us the cost of a doula. He was a pro and would probably coach you through labor if you asked. Just sayin'.
And then, the Boy entered the world. We immediately loved him more than we ever could have imagined. Andrew was unfazed by the crying, the sleeplessness, even the diapers. He just couldn't wait to bring the Boy into our lives and teach him as much as possible while loving him with all he had. During our third week as parents of an infant, Andrew took time off of work and made me leave the house once a day so that I could be refreshed and reconnected with the outside world and he could bond with the Boy. Who does that? I was talking to mom friends who at 6 months had never left their husbands home with their kids, and here mine was confidently encouraging me to give him that time in the very beginning.
I'm pretty sure Andrew evoked the first giggles, and that has carried through into this relationship with our son now. Andrew comes home from work and silliness bursts forth. The way Andrew throws the Boy around, makes up goofy songs, creates fun games with balls and boxes and hampers....I get to see a whole new side of our son whenever the two of them are together. The Boy has a whole different laugh with Papa. It comes from somewhere deep and it is awesome.
Andrew has started taking the Boy out for a little Papa-son time on the weekends. They've done lots of things, but this usually involves time playing at a park. I have come to expect that when the Boy comes back from these times, he will first of all, be exhausted and filled to the brim with activity and fun, but he will also be just a little more confident on the playground than he was the day before. Andrew helps him explore his abilities, test his limits and try new things. He goes on bigger slides, by himself, when he is with Papa. He tries more things on his own because Papa is confident he can do it and sure that even if it doesn't go perfectly this time, it will be a good experience and will help him the next time.
Andrew cares. Like he really cares. He wants to teach the Boy about things that matter. He wants to point him to Jesus. He wants to be a model for our son (even in the "life skill" category of teeth brushing). He believes that when it comes to matters of faith, principles, discipline, and redirection, we should begin explaining our thought processes to our son now- even if he doesn't fully understand it yet. In Andrew's mind (and I totally agree), the Boy understands a lot more than we know, and even if most of it goes over his head, this is a valuable opportunity for us as parents to grow accustomed to those chats and really flesh out what it is we want to say to him. It has been a humbling experience to try to start explaining something to the Boy and then realize we have no idea what we're doing. But Andrew and I are in it together and I'm so thankful he's encouraged us to begin this process now. It can only benefit all of us in the future.
This may seem like a small thing, (and an odd choice for a final accolade) but I think it's a really big deal. Andrew comes home when he says he will. He is never late. I mean that. The Boy and I know when Papa will walk through that door and can't wait to greet him. Andrew makes it a top priority to get home in time to hang out with the Boy and put him down to bed. He usually begs us to meet him somewhere fun outside so they can throw a ball around for a few minutes and get fresh air. He does this even if it means putting in extra time on work once the bedtime routine is over. He's a reliable dad who makes it a priority to get quality time with his kid every day....truly who could ask for anything more?
Andrew, you are an amazing, exemplary father. You love the Boy (and the Peanut on the way) with a deep love that I would imagine will give them great confidence in the future. Dads have that unique opportunity, and I think that our kids will have that piece of their hearts totally full and secure because of the time you put in with them. It's true. Most importantly, you are teaching our son about how God sees him, loves him perfectly, and shows him unfailing grace no matter what. You are a beautiful picture of a man who has been adopted into God's family, and are leading your wife and children into His presence and love with everything you have. It is an honor to parent alongside you.
Happy Father's Day.