Seven years ago, this week, I was introduced to the Dude by my sister.
Before I met him, there was a trend with most of the guys I dated. The more I got to know them, the less I liked them. The opposite was true with the Dude. After every e-mail, phone call, or date, I liked him even more. Within a month, I knew this guy had *The One* potential. But what really locked my heart up was something he said to me shortly after we started dating.
During one of our many conversations about life ambitions, goals, and dreams, the Dude mentioned that he could not wait to be a father. That really floored me, mostly because having kids was the last thing on my mind. I had too many other important things to do, like finish my graduate degree and get a promotion. But here was this highly ambitious and successful 26 year old man telling me that the most important thing he ever wanted to become was a good dad. In that same conversation, he questioned how he would be able to handle the task of working grueling hours at a law firm and being present for his future kids. He wanted to be there for every milestone, every first day of school, every parent-teacher meeting, and every soccer game. In fact, he wanted to coach the soccer team. He told me right then and there that he would quit his job if it meant he couldn’t be there for his kids. Despite not knowing him very well at the time, I believed him. Seven years and one kid later, I still believe him. Because it’s true.
When I became pregnant with the Monkey, the Dude became more and more anxious. He was a fast-rising star in his San Francisco law firm, but he (and we) paid the consequences for it. Working late hours and all weekend became the norm. Dinner reservations would be canceled, trips would be postponed, and many hot meals that I cooked became cold leftovers for the next day. It was a miracle if we could get to bed at the same time. We were not able to spend quality time together and neither one of us was happy about it. When our Monkey was born, the Dude took 2 months off of work to help with the baby. It was a financial and career sacrifice, but it was something the Dude insisted on doing for our family. Being with his newborn son 24 hours a day was an incredibly special time for all of us, which made it all the harder when he finally went back to work. Once again, the late nights at the office and working weekends became our routine. We started talking about Plan B but, what that plan was, we didn’t know. All we knew was that something had to change.
Something did change. When the Monkey was 5 months old, the Dude received a job offer in Southern California. It meant that he could work normal business hours. It meant dinner at home every night and family weekends. It meant that vacations didn’t need to be postponed. It meant that family life was the priority and that the Dude no longer had to worry about missing anything. It also meant a pay-cut and that he was no longer on partner-track at a law firm. But, if you ask him, that wasn’t much of a sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice in life is when you’re sacrificing valuable time with your kids and family.
I know now why I never anticipated having a child. It’s only because I had never met anyone I wanted to have a child with until I met the Dude. I knew from the start that he would make a good dad and I was right. It’s the best thing I’ve ever been right about. He is a good dad and one that only gets better at it each and every day. That alone makes me love him more every day.
Happy Father’s Day to the Dude, my own wonderful father, grandfather, father-in-law, brother and all the other good dads out there. You are loved and appreciated. Keep doing what you’re doing…and continue to help inspire the next generation of good dads.