I once asked my grandfather if he'd like to hold my baby.
He sputtered awkwardly, saying he didn't know how to hold a baby. That he'd never really done it. After raising four children.
From the kitchen I heard my grandma mutter something under her breath about how he never made the time to hold their children. That he never wanted to.
My dad, on the other hand is baby crazy.
Though he grew up with a more hands-off father, my dad has never passed up the chance to hold a child. He is different than his dad. More engaged. More present. More demonstrative of his love.
Not to say that my grandpa got it wrong. Just that my dad kicked it up a notch.
And many new fathers are taking it up again. And so the evolution continues.
My own husband, despite growing up without a dad of his own, is fully engaged in the lives of our kids.
And he's not the only one.
I see dads around us who are happy to dig in and do the hard work of parenting.
Fathers who support their partners in breastfeeding, co-sleeping, or peaceful parenting. Dads who change and launder diapers, cook dinner, bandage skinned knees, and jump at the chance to "catch" doing EC.
Dads who aren't afraid to get in there and wrap their kids up in their own kind of love.
And I'm crazy about those dads.
In fact, there's one here at my house. And it's Father's Day. So this is for him.
We met when I was twenty-one. I had pink hair and an apartment in the city.
That was a lifetime ago. Nearly twenty years. I'm not sure how we're old enough for that math to be right, but it is.
In that time we've shared our home and our love with two rats, three snake, five cats, three dogs, thirty-some chickens, two hamsters, six sheep, one rabbit, and now two kids.
The two kids changed a lot.
Because parenting is hard. Exceptionally hard sometimes.
And becoming parents brought changes that we never imagined.
But you took to those changes with grace.
You evolved almost instantly into "Papa" that hot August day eleven summers ago.
You. The one who made me laugh during labor with your finger puppets and silliness beside my birth pool in the living room. The same guy I'd always loved.
And then in a moment there you stood, a baby in your arms, a new and different man.
No one taught you how to father. But you are making it up beautifully as you go along.
Husband. Friend. Partner. Dad.
Teacher. Barber. Barista. Love.
Homeopath. Researcher. Comedian. Chef.
So from our children and me: thank you for being that guy.
The one who embraced radical ideas that have shaped our life. Like homebirth. Family bed. Natural immunity. Unschooling. Gentle parenting. Extended breastfeeding. So many crazy food ideas.
The basic stuff of how we live.
I cannot imagine where our family would be were it not for your support of my radical-hippie-mama ideals.
Thank you for being that guy who never leaves the seat up. The one who made me a latte every morning when our youngest was small and then asked me how my night was.
The one who didn't bat an eye when our five-year old son came out in the pink fairy wings and a tulle skirt and announced that he was "the queen of fairy land."
The evolved new modern sensitive papa guy.
That really wonderful, kind, thoughtful, loving guy. (Or, to borrow the words from a friend's ex-boyfriend almost twenty years ago, "Dude, knock it off. You're making it hard for the rest of us.")
Thank you for making it hard for the rest of them.
We love you so.
Her days are spent with and two spunky unschoolers, running LuSa Organics (her small business), and hanging the laundry out on the line.
Rachel writes about her homeschooling, homemaking, and non-violent parenting path on her blog Clean.