First off, I'd just like to say Happy Father's Day to all you great dads out there! We women like to tease our men about how they "father" throughout the year, but the truth is that behind every tease is an extreme amount of gratefulness for the men in our lives.
Growing up, I remember my Granny would tell me on a very regular basis, "You have a really good daddy, you know that?" When I was really small, I just agreed with her because I thought that he was pretty good. When I got to that in-between stage, I knew I liked him a lot, but I figured my Granny just said that a bunch because she was his mom. When I got to high school, I knew that he was special compared to some of my friends' dads, but I still didn't realize how much.
When I finally grew up and moved out of the house I hit a pretty bad rough spot. That's when I really found out how great my dad was, although I didn't know it at the time. He was there for me through it all, in his own way. Now that I'm older and I can turn around and think back on all the things my dad has done for me over the years in comparison to what I know about grown men, I'm moved to tears over the incredible love he has for us kids.
He's the dad that picked out each of our going-home outfits from the hospital. He's the dad that insisted on carrying each of his babies into church for the first time (and usually for many Sundays after that). He's the dad that used to sit us in boxes (back before they had Bumbos) and pull us around inside like we were in a car. He's the dad that gave in and got us multiple pets - despite the fact that he really didn't want anymore cats.
He's the dad that would punish us for being naughty, then sit us down on his lap and tell us how much he loved us instead of being angry. He's the dad that taught us how to be excited about learning new things. He's the dad that played pranks on us (still does) and never got upset at us for goofing around. He's the dad that loves to laugh more than he loves to be serious. He's the dad that makes sure we know our mistakes are noted, but not held against us.
He's the dad that doesn't stop defending us to the world, but makes sure in private that we know right from wrong. He's the dad that drops everything to help us fix a bike or a broken toy, regardless of all the things he has to do. He's the dad that picked time with his kids over time with his career. He's the dad that devotes countless unknown hours to our 4-H projects, baseball games, after-school events, and driver's training.
He's the dad that isn't afraid to talk about God, to talk to us about Christianity, and helps us find the way to Salvation. He's the dad that dances with his little girls at the Daddy-Daughter dances, even with his oldest daughter who isn't so little anymore. He's the dad that teaches his sons that real men love Jesus. He's the dad that doesn't laugh at dirty jokes, but tells clean ones that are hilarious.
He's the dad that hugged me and held me and told me I was still his baby girl, even though I'd spent all of my 19th year messing up in the way that only a teenager can. He's not just my dad - he's my protector, my teacher, my friend, my secret keeper, the giver of hugs and the finder of kittens. He has been all these things to me and more, and still is.
So here's to all the great fathers out there - the ones that separate themselves from the rest by being a spectacular dad, not by doing any one spectacular thing, but by being a loving dad every single day.
I love you daddy <3