This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of my husband.
Zach was just a couple of days old, and as you can see, a tiny little peanut. He’d been born almost a month early, and weighed just a smidge over 6 pounds in this photo.
Newborn clothes swallowed him whole; even the preemie sizes we had to buy were loose. Understandably, little Zach seemed quite irritated by this bright, loud world he’d been forced into early, and it felt like he cried all the time.
Oh, that poor boy cried ALL the time. Look how wired and intense he looks in this picture, his itty-bitty fingertips white with the death-grip he had on his daddy’s hand.
Donnie was so tired in this picture, both of us having learned a whole new definition of the word “exhausted.” I don’t know when we’d last slept. You can see it in his eyes.
But you can also see the joy there, too. The immense joy of finally becoming a father.
I love this picture because it illustrates the degree to which he was with me. I wasn’t alone in this scary new world of parenting. He was right there as much as he could be, and then some, changing diapers, pacing floors, going to work every day on a few broken hours’ sleep, making just enough money for us to scrape by despite working long days as a carpenter.
Fifteen years later, my Donnie is still there, every day, as much as he can be, and then some.
I couldn’t have asked for God to give me a better man to walk beside me as we navigate through this life.
He’s the best dad. Yes, he loses his cool and he loses things. He doesn’t always listen when we talk to him and he lets the lawn grow to jungle-ish proportions before he mows it. He snaps at the kids and says annoying things like, “Are we trying to air-condition the whole neighborhood?” as he yells at them to shut the door.
But he tickles and wrestles and bandages skinned knees. He coaches them through softball games, math tests and the sadness when neighborhood friends move away.
And if they’re ever disrespectful to me, he stares them down with an intensity that makes them apologize before they even know what they’re doing.
He goes to work full-time and goes to school full-time, and maybe, to some, he’s not as driven as he should be. But I love that he’s not a workaholic. Everything he does is for the good of his family. I’ve never had to worry that he wouldn’t work, or couldn’t. Or that he’d be unfaithful to me or not there for our children.
He is there.
From day one, he’s been there.
That big, big hand. Does anything look safer in this world to you, than to be tucked inside the strong, capable hand of a loving father?
Today, I honor him, and I honor my dad. And I honor all the faithful, loving men who so carefully, so strongly, hold the very future in their hands.
Kari Apted is a writer and speaker residing in Georgia with her husband, three sons, and an ever-changing menagerie of pets. She writes a humorous weekly parenting column for The Covington News and freelances for various publications.more»