If we weren't living through a pandemic, I'd be at my favorite overpriced stationery store today to find a Father's Day card for my husband. But even if it were open, I know I'd be staring down a wall of cards, never finding one that captures all there is to celebrate about my children's dad.
Among the options I know I would find would be the card with a golf club (not my husband's jam), the one with the ship (because fatherhood is nothing if not nautical), a football (my husband was concussed too many times in high school for me to buy that one), a tie (hello, who wears a tie these days?). All these cards suggest there are very few ways to be a dad — and most of them are hackneyed and involve escaping from your family.
When you decide to have kids with someone, you have merely a general notion of how that person will parent. I sensed my husband would be a caring father, not only because he expressed that he wanted to raise children in contrast to the way he was raised but because when my own dad took him for his first visit to Disney World, I realized my then-boyfriend had 40 years of untapped joy that he could channel into fatherhood.
The first time my husband held our son he whispered to our 5-pound miracle, “Hi, Sweetpea.” I'd never thought to ask him what nicknames he might call our boy, and in that moment I was flooded with gratitude that I'd married a man who didn't call his son something like “Little Man” or “Sport,” but rather a name free from expectations and redolent of sweetness and beauty. It was the first of countless, unfolding surprises about the father he is, and continues to become.