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Katy England Katy England
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Dear old dad

June 19, 2013
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Dads get the short end of the stick. We moms are glory hogs. For good reason - I mean, you have the whole miracle of childbirth, some strange and mystical connection with your children and all that. It's beautiful.  

When you first come home with these wiggly balls of new people, most women have some kind of chemical attachment to them brought on by gallons of hormones. You get chemically bonded to your offspring. It's one of the reasons why the human race survives.

But dads don't get that quick shot of happy juice in their brains (they also don't get weird mood swings, so it's a trade-off, you know?). They have to forge their own bond by sheer force of will. You're talking about loving something that yells at you because you can't read its mind and wakes you up five times a night for almost a full year. 

And even after a bedtime routine is established, those same people will occasionally wage germ warfare by complete and total misuse of a diaper. Communication barriers are huge and usually culminate with a flailing of arms or flinging of a cup of milk across the room. This is typically followed by story time, where you can be reading too fast, not fast enough, or actually reading the story instead of naming all of the items being pointed to (including the copyright notes and page numbers).

There's a lot riding on dads these days. It falls to them to keep their sons out of prison and their daughters out of houses of ill repute. Guys are expected to walk a fine line and keep their kids from forming 'daddy issues' while simultaneously not being a complete doormat. It's a lot to ask of a guy.

I've been lucky with the dad figures in my life. My own father was the kind of guy who you look back and realize is just amazing. He had no qualms about taking his kids hiking and camping and getting them involved in technology. I was a student councilor for his technology camp at the high school he taught at while I was growing up. He's one of the reasons why I'm so interested in everything.

He's the guy who helped me build a bat house in fourth grade for the science fair. The one who had gone out and bought all the materials to construct my iguana enclosure the weekend before the cat killed the damn thing. When I came home with butterfly chrysalises, he and my mom helped me build the terrarium so I could watch them hatch into monarchs. 

And that's not even touching upon all the Christmases and Easters that were magical because of him.

My husband is another example of being a great dad. Like many great dads, my own included, you can sometimes not even realize how awesome they are because it becomes second nature. But when I need someone to help me with a flailing child, or run out and pick up that extra gallon of milk, it's like clockwork. To the point that when he's not there it feels like the whole operation is shaky.

No one tells you you're doing a good job breathing, but you can really tell if it stops. Then the sudden, panicky appreciation kicks in. But Father's Day is time to appreciate all the dad does without that sense of panic. To try to make his day a bit better and realize all that he's done for you and the others in your family. And this goes for dads who may not be blood relations, but are no less your father for all that.

So when you have a man in your life who is a good dad, he needs his props.  Happy Father's Day.

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