He Never Wanted to Be a Dad

He never wanted to be a dad.

I wanted to be a mom, and he loved me, so he came along for the ride. But he never wanted to be a dad.

He didn’t have that internal longing like I did to have children of his own. His arms didn’t ache to hold a baby. He had no drive to pass on his genes. He didn’t dream of teaching his son to ride a bike or of being the knight in shining armor to his daughter. He didn’t envision a house full of kids and a heart overflowing with love.

And yet.

Look at him as he rolls around on the floor with them. Look at him as he sips his coffee and reads them a book, flanked on either side and with two on his lap. Look at him as his eyes well up when our oldest daughter finally meets the Disney princess she loves the most. Look at him as he gets down on his knees and looks them in the eye and says, “I love you so much.” Look at him.

Look at him as he beams with pride when one of our daughters reads us the story that she has crafted. Look at him as he patiently lets our little boy use the hammer, and the drill, and the wrench, even though everything could be done so much faster if he didn’t have those little hands helping. Look at him as he tosses the baby into the air and they both collapse into a fit of giggles. Look. At. Him.

You would never know he never wanted to be a dad.

He never wanted to be a dad, but he is, and he’s the best kind. He’s the kind who shows up. To the awards assemblies and parent-teacher conferences. To the midnight stomach upsets and bedwettings. To the Christmas programs and ballet practices. To the diaper blowouts and tantrums. He shows up when they want to tell him the plot of their favorite book (even though he already knows it) and when they want to put on a song and dance performance from the coffee table (for the 78th time). He shows up when they have broken toys, broken bones, and broken hearts. He always shows up.

Ten years and four kids ago, he never wanted to be a dad. But a decade later, we have a nest full of baby birds and I’m thanking God for leading me to this man, for allowing me to choose him to be the dad to the children I dreamed of having. Every time I witness the way that he engages with them, loves them fiercely, fights for them, offers patience and understanding that I can’t muster in the moment, I fall more in love with him. For all the doubt and uncertainty that he had as we began this journey, I know that there is only one thing that matters now.

He may have never wanted to be a dad. But. But I think a dad is what he was always meant to be. And I couldn’t love him more for being the one that he is.