My life as a child was punctuated by my father's long absences - he was out to sea a lot, later on submarines, and when I was 7, he spent 13 months in Diego Garcia while my mother stayed in Spain with the two kids. We saw him once during his 13 month tour-of-duty in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Even when we moved back stateside, it seemed he was gone more than he was home - either working late, pursuing a degree in the evenings, or on work travel. But my father was still the center of my universe in that special way that fathers and daughters seem to share deep bonds, no matter the circumstances.
No matter where in the world he was on my birthday, I always got a bouquet of carnations (later roses) - one flower for each year I'd been alive (as I got into my teen years, I got sweetheart roses instead of full sized roses!). As an adult, I realize that my mother was probably the mover and shaker who ensured the flowers were delivered at the right time in the right place, but as a child, Daddy was at the heart of it from my view of the world.
As I've grown older, my father is further away (having retired to Florida), but our relationship is closer than ever. We speak several times a week, email frequently, trade pictures of our adventures, and turn to each other when we need to. He's young, but his health betrays him frequently and I worry about him in a way that I had hoped never to worry about him. He's one of the first people I call when I need advice, he's one of the people I share my joys with. I call him when I'm frustrated, happy, depressed, or overjoyed, and if I don't check in, he calls me to make sure we're okay at ChezPerky.
But above all, I love him for the diapers he sends for the kids every month.
(Okay, just kidding - I love him for all the right reasons, but the diapers are a huge bonus.)
My father isn't the only father I look up to and respect in this world. My husband is the greatest father and partner I could ask for to team with to raise our beautiful and bountiful family. He takes care of me like a queen, but takes care of the kids just as well. We have a challenging family dynamic - ADHD foster son, toddler triplets, and a newborn, but Seth takes it on with a smile on his face and genuine enjoyment of our beautiful children. He hasn't complained once about having been saddled with all five (5!) children since I got admitted to the hospital Wednesday night - he handles it with a grace even I do not possess.
He finds joy in each one of our children, and shares that joy with me whenever possible. He is actively engaged in their lives, an equal participant in their lives, and a strong perfect role model to them for the future. I know, without question, that our daughters (and sons) will have the same deep bond with Seth that I have with my own father, and I couldn't ask for better.
I love you honey. I can't think of anyone I'd rather spend my life raising our family with.