As a father, committed to becoming a better dad, I spend a great deal of time thinking, writing, researching, talking and practicing on the subject of parenthood. The amazing thing is, Laurie, my wife, and mother of Eli and Ervin, just doesn’t have to really work that hard to be great. I jokingly say she is ‘perfect’ when we don’t argue, and then begrudgingly admit that is much more close to perfect when we do argue.
While thinking about what to write for Mother’s Day, I am drawn back 18 years ago when I became in many ways a single father after my divorce. For all of those single dads out there, you might understand where I am coming from. You awake one day and realize you are not equipped to handle some of the adventures that are about to hit you right between the eyes. Don’t get me wrong, single fathers and single mothers figure it out; however, I remember so clearly how tough it was to be 100% dad and 80% mother to my daughter when she was growing up.
I wish I could say that I loved it; I didn’t get tired; I never wanted a partner to help get up in the middle of the night; and I felt completely competent in everything I did as a single parent; however, that would be just a big fat lie. Being a single parent is one of the toughest things I have ever done. Based upon a somewhat limited sample size; I believe both mothers and fathers have it rough as parents when they are in it on their own. I know, there are super men and super women who seem to just go with the flow and never seem to sweat; however, the vast majority of single fathers I know would choose healthy, strong relationship over single fatherhood any day of the week.
So, why is this important for our conversation? I have had three different experiences as a parent: I was married to someone who wasn’t as engaged as much as I would have liked as a co-parent; I was a divorced father with Joint-Physical Custody for eleven years; and for the last four years, I have been a co-parent with Laurie. For me, there is NO comparison. The last experience wins.
I told Laurie today buying a Mother’s Day present for her is the toughest gift to get each year. How can a gift portray how much Laurie means to our boys when there is one consistent (non-traveling) person who will ALWAYS be there for them? If you read my first article about GetConnectDAD, you know I am on a personal journey (now with a lot of other men, thanks, Dads!) to figure out how I can become a more connected and engaged father, particularly since I travel 50-60% of my time. Interestingly, I find that as I continue to look at areas I need to improve in, I find that Laurie leads our family in many ways in the traits we are working on.
I thought it prudent today to write about Laurie, for she represents millions of mom’s who sacrifice a ton for their kids. You see, Laurie has two Bachelors Degrees, a Master’s Degree, and half of another Master’s Degree and she made the decision years ago to take everything she has learned and pour it into our boys at home. Hands down, she is the smarter one in our relationship. I must have just caught her on an off day when she said, “Yes” to my marriage proposal. She would be the first to say sometimes she feels like the chief housekeeper, chief nose-blower, head UBER driver, financial planner and comptroller, nurse, chaplain, personal assistant, home organizer, dog-trainer, dog-walker, dog taker-outer, fry cook and head chef, alphabet teacher, dry cleaner, head gardener, event planner, face washer and all around “other duties as assigned” person.
If I asked her today what her role is she would say that she is responsible for shaping two young boys into great men who love God, each other, their family, their church, their country, and strangers. She is shaping our boys with the skill of a potter making a beautiful vase; a painter painting the Mona Lisa, or a pianist who stuns the crowd with Beethoven’s Symphony #9. Her work is much more valuable than what I do. I don’t do enough to recognize her for that daily. As a dad and a husband, I must do better.
In my life there are two truths:
God is working in all of our lives, both believers and non-believers in ways we don’t understand, know, or deserve; and
Laurie is the rock in my boys’ lives. I am forever grateful for her and what she does every single day without anyone saying ‘Good Job, way to balance that checkbook’ or a bonus that comes at the end of the month that reads, ‘You killed the child development this month, Laurie.’
She, like millions of other mothers, gets up every morning, puts her family’s needs in front of her and starts patiently molding our boys into young men.
So, to Laurie, the love of my life and, in my opinion, the best mother my boys could ever have I wish you the Happiest Mother’s Day possible. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for taking care of us in a way that makes our lives better in ways we never knew possible.