Thursday, December 4, 2014

The World's Greatest Dad Turns 40 and Mom Does the Ugly Cry

If you've been here before, then I know you've heard me preach about how frustrating the pace of life can be sometimes....most times.  We'd all like to slow things down a bit, but with work, the kids activities, school assignments, housework and holidays it's a little tricky getting off the treadmill when you're running at a dead sprint.

Nothing makes you want to slow things down more than a birthday, especially when you've sailed through the 30's and time is now ticking to the beat of 40.  Getting older is no fun, can I get an amen? Turning 40 is like getting a nice big slap on the naked fanny. It's a bit of a surprise and a shocker all at once!

I thought I was young, but I'm not.  Young is over. Oh, crap. 

Steve and I often find ourselves staring deeply at our children, particularly the oldest ones, asking ourselves what we can do to create more moments with them, more quality time, more pauses for hugs, and questions, and praises, and meaningful guidance and direction through their varying stages of life.

With the younger ones finding this time is easy.  That's because there's always a toddler attached to a leg like a third appendage or a baby saddled on a hip riding us around every day.  But, the older boys, they are the ones that we always wonder - every single day we wonder - if we are making a difference in their lives.  Most of all we wonder if they know, really know deep down, how terribly much we love them.
(A consolation smooch for my guy who hit 40 first, poor guy!)
On Tuesday, Steve officially turned 40.  It was a pretty low key day.  I was totally off the celebration hook since I had just thrown him a whopper of a surprise party a couple of weeks ago (details Monday!).  I did get up early and make him waffles, though.

Such love.  Such adoration. Actually, we were out of cereal, and bread and eggs and bacon and fruit and yogurt (and whatever else you can eat for breakfast).

No, really, the waffles were a result of two parts love, one point five parts empty pantry.  I can't help loving the birthday breakfast. There's just something so great about being showered with love first thing on your birthday morning. It's a wonderful thing . And, if the rest of the day gets totally screwed up, well, at least you can savor the memory of a happy morning!

After chowing down on waffles soaked in a bucket of syrup, and tackling dad in a a crazy dog pile of super sticky boys screaming *Happy Birthday, Dad* at the top of their lungs, we got back on the treadmill for the daily sprint.
(I think the dental hygene freebies from the dentist add some pizazz to the pic, don't you?)
As evening rolled around, I realized that we had a few minutes to spare before Steve would arrive home from CrossFit. So, I encouraged the boys to each write him a note to give with the few small gifts we had purchased for him.
(I provide the most amazing crafting supplies.  Note the awesomeness of the colored foil stars.)

I had no idea that one of those notes would move me to tears (the blubbering kind).

One by one, Steve read each thoughtful card the boys had created for him, affirming their incredible artistic skills (give a boy a sheet of white paper and a sharpie and big things happen) and thoughtful choice of words included in each letter.

Very last he read our oldest son, Ben's, card, which said:

Happy Birthday!  I hope that it is a happy and memorable one.  Thank you for 
being there for me in everything I do, whether it is school work, farming, friends, sorrows,
mistakes or sports.  Thank you for being the great dad that you are.  There are many 
other dads out there that don't care what their boys do, or who they are.  Also, thank
you for keeping me between the lines, and teaching me to hold a good relationship with
God.  I highly doubt that there is a dad that can match you.  Happy Birthday!

For real.  A teenager wrote that.  On his own.  I swear.

Steve kept it together (tough guy), but not me, I did the big snotty bawl, and the boys, who already think I'm some super-weird species from another planet, looked more perplexed than ever.  Call it hormones or lack of sleep, but whatever state of being I was in there was no way I could have held back the tears.
(Just to take the birthday love a step further, we gave dad some lotto tickets, which was disturbingly thrilling for all of us.) 
Sometimes as parents, it's those seemingly small confirmations from our children that play a huge role in helping us to know whether we're doing it all wrong, or if we're actually getting a few things right.  

I know, without a doubt, that Steve is an amazing dad.  He puts aside so many of his own goals and desires to make time for the boys.  He has an incredible ability to seize the ordinary moments of the day, especially during everyday chores or farm work, seeing them as opportunities to laugh, tease and teach the boys small yet significant lessons about life and about the greatness of God.

I have a feeling it's those very ordinary moments that the boys will remember most about their time with their father, more than the skiing and hunting trips, or any other grand event they experience together.

I heard an alarming statistic the other day: In the U.S. the average amount of time a dad spends with his child per day is seven minutes. Seven.  SEVEN!!! Holy smokes, that's tragic.

When I heard that terrible bit of news, my heart sank.  

After giving it some thought, (brace yourselves) I began to wonder if we moms aren't one of the reasons why there is such a deficiency in quality time amongst fathers and their children. 


I know, that's a pretty big statement, but trust me, I'm not criticizing your love or noble intentions (I am in this boat with you!). 

Hear me out??...

In our quest to nurture and support our kids in everything they do, as moms we also have a natural tendency to think we know what is best for them at all times (totally guilty of this).  We are so deeply involved in (read: control) everything our children participate in, from their teeth brushing schedule to basketball and gymnastics, that we offer dad little opportunity to be on the nurturing side or to have meaningful time alone with the kids. And, when we play captain of the kid ship every day, dads often don't feel needed or wanted.  

Sometimes, (I'm talking to myself here) it's good for us to stop hovering, to step back, to step away, and just let dad take the reigns for a while. 

I know that Steve could very easily devote all of his time outside of work to other things - clubs, community and church organizations, playing sports with buddies, or chasing more business ventures. Thank goodness he is not a seven minute dad. I cannot express how incredibly blessed that makes me feel.  

As I watch our boys growing up to be men, I am thankful beyond words that our sons have such an incredible soul leading and loving them with such great purpose and devotion.

And, according to Ben, his dad is doing quite a fine job.

P. S. Today is the final day to sign up for the gift card giveaway! More details right here!


  1. Deo gratias! Birthday prayers for your awesome man. May he have blessed new year and many more opportunities to fill the hearts of your dear sons.

  2. So sweet. Love this. Reminds me of a certain dad and husband I know. ;)

  3. Love this!! What a sweet note from Ben to his dad!!
    I feel fortunate that Chris is the kind of dad who wants to be with his family more than he wants to be anywhere else - it makes our life so much better!!!

  4. Awww, this is so sweet! What an amazing young man you have raised to even have those thoughts about his dad and to be able to articulate them so well.

  5. Beautiful, Susan. What a blessing your husband is to you and your boys! Praise God.

  6. Completely unrelated but I read this article today and thought of you and your family:


  7. Happy birthday to your husband! This year, I had hyperemesis for 5.5 months, and it forced me to stay out of the way. My husband had a lot more alone time. He already spent a good amount of time with the kids, but usually I was around. It turned out to be great for him, and though highly unpleasant at the time, good for me to step back.

  8. This is the sweetest! Your boys are wonderful as is your husband. Happy Birthday to him :) Beautiful family! And, wow, 7 mintues! :(


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