What Does a Real Father Look Like?

The "Father's Day Aisle" at Target had a few key ingredients: beer, beer glasses, something about barbecuing, and I think something else having to do with beer. Maybe there was something about golf. And while Target, I love you, you know I do, I walked right on by, because I'm not buying a cookie cutter DAD gift, because I don't have a cookie cutter dad, or a cookie cutter husband. Not all dads are beer drinking, grilling, golfing dudes who would get lost in the diaper aisle.

Let me tell you a story about a real dad. That I happened to meet, coincidentally in Target (or not coincidentally, I spend a lot of time there okay?). I was hugely pregnant, buying parts for my breast pump in preparation for the baby, and an older man approached me. He was probably in his seventies, white hair, and his sleeveless t-shirt revealed some maybe Navy looking tattoos. He was a little gruff, but friendly, and he was on a mission.

Now, I don't normally get approached in the breast pump section of Target by older men. Kinda rare. So you can understand I was a little taken aback when he came right up to me and said "Can you help me?".

"Of course", I said, and he went on to tell me that his daughter had just given birth, and she needed nipple shields, and he had been sent to Target to get them for her. The only thing was, he wasn't sure exactly which ones to get. So there I was, me and this stranger, standing in the aisle at Target discussing the different types and sizes of nipple shields. Yep.

I figured now wasn't the time to get all shy, if this guy could come into Target in search of nipple shields and cared enough to approach a total stranger to ask about them, the least I could do was make sure he got the right ones. So yes, I tried to gently explain about the different sizes, and yes, it was a little awkward, only, it kinda wasn't. Because this guy was so focused on getting it right, on doing what he needed to do for his daughter, and his grandchild, that he did not care one single bit about discussing nipple sizes with a stranger. He needed nipple shields, dammit, and he didn't care who he had to ask.

Now that's a dad.

He walked away, shields in hand, hurrying back to his daughter to help. It was the sweetest thing, and literally every time I am in that aisle I think of him and wish I knew his daughter so I could tell her how lucky she is.

I consider myself lucky as well. My own father is supportive and smart and funny and honest. He was also tough on me and let me make my own decisions and my own mistakes. I look up to him, I look up to his integrity, and I am proud to call him my father.

My own husband is a hands on dad who can do "girl hair" and soothe the baby and cooks almost all of our meals and reads the bedtime stories. He is happiest with his children, and they are happiest with him. If we need diapers I don't get a frantic text about what kind or size to buy because he knows because he is changing those diapers. He's in the parenting trenches, he's happy to be in those trenches, and he knows what's up.

What am I getting him for Father's Day? I'm buying him dinner. With his kids. Because even though taking all of them to a restaurant sounds like a challenge, it's one that he wants to take on, and I love him for it.

Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there. You are loved more than you know.