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Ode to James

It is a common clichéd theory that women often choose husbands much like their own father. This statistic does not apply to me. It is not a reflection of any ill feelings toward my dad; on the contrary, I have a (drink) lot of respect and admiration for him. The problem is, I'm a lot like him in many ways and marrying another type A personality would not have gone well. James is much more even keeled and grounded than I am. For every cockamamie idea I have, he has a more rational, well-thought-out alternative. For every stressy outburst I have, he has a glass of wine poured. And for every cabinet I break due to displaced anger, he has a screwdriver at the ready without questioning my motives.

It can take years to really get to know James. But when you do, you have a friend for life. And he gives everyone the benefit of the doubt. Always. He has a (sometimes annoying) knack for seeing both sides of the coin and never rushes to judge. Being a good guy just comes naturally to him. He doesn't try to be nice. He just is.

I knew all this about James when I married him. But (drink) watching him as a father has affirmed his "nice guy" title. When I first suggested that we might start a family, he turned white as a ghost and was literally lost for words. He said he always figured he would have kids, but taking the leap to actually become a father was a journey on which he never knew when or if he'd be ready. But I was. And like I said, James has an amazing capacity to see situations from an opposing perspective. So he caved and along came Abigail.

During my pregnancy, despite his fears of the ultimate life change on which he was about to embark, James adopted the role of cheerleader quite readily. He researched everything and was particularly engaged in the search for the perfect stroller. Looking back on all the stupid, and sometimes, expensive equipment we bought for Abigail is, in hindsight, hilarious. There was the top of the line Bugaboo stroller which I hated, but pretended to like. The wipe warmer, because God forbid her ass should be cold. The mesh dome for the top of her crib (drink) because we were scared the cat would jump into bed with her. He was such a fat cat, we were certain she would suffocate. We used cloth diapers and when it was time, pureed her baby food rather than infiltrate her digestive system with the toxic jarred variety. (Drink)

By the time Cynthia and Eleanor came along, it was umbrella strollers, disposable diapers, and processed food; I didn't bother to warm their bottles or their wipes and they napped when it was convenient for the rest of the family. If they ate off the floor, we didn't care, and if their older brother was a little too rough with them, they all learned the hard way. Actually, most of that stuff came into play with baby #2, but with each kid, our parenting anxieties decreased (drink) and five kids later, we're the exact opposite of helicopter parents.

But our relaxed approach to parenting doesn't mean we won't do just about anything for the kids. James, in particular. I mean, if you're willing to dress up as a woman for your kids' fundraiser, there's a lot of love going on. Year after year, James was recruited to enter the Prettiest Dad competition and now holds the title for reigning champion. The kids egged him on each year, suggesting elaborate and embarrassing costumes complete with earrings, wigs, heels, and gigantic boobs. He played along and even got into character so much, I had a mild case of PTSD for a couple days each year following the contest.

James is also the inventor of some very catchy songs including Rocking Out With Abigail, It's Bath Time at Paige Elizabeth Meyer's House, and Cheese Cheese I Want Some Cheese. He does the best voices when he reads books and is responsible for my kids' abilities to belch the entire alphabet. He's the fun parent; the one who can make them laugh when they fall. And if he could, he'd take the fall for them. Once, he was walking downstairs with Cynthia and Eleanor in his arms. It was easy to carry them, one in each arm, when they were babies. But he slipped. He didn't drop them, though - they didn't even stir from their comfortable perch. James, on the other hand, was in rough shape, the bruises (drink) on his legs a reminder to all of us that dad's got our back.

Dads come in all varieties. Some are better than others. Some are more present than others. But for those who make an effort, who try their best, who step up to the plate and own their role as a parent, in whatever capacity that may be, kudos to you. And happy father's day.

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