Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Love of a Father

The past year or so has brought about great changes in our family.  Oh, they are subtle, and taken individually they don't appear to add up to all that much.  When taken collectively, it is clearly visible just how quickly childhood is passing us by, and young adulthood is entering.

Being the mother of my delightful, unusual brood makes parenthood a very different experience.  After all, most folks don't become instant parents to 8, 10 and 11 year old children.  If they do find themselves with tweens suddenly surrounding them, they are not tweens whose hearts need to jump back to pre-school and elementary school age, who desperately want to cling to the childhood they never got to have while also smack dab up against changing bodies which will not be denied the right to mature.

They are middlers in every way right now, but this past week had us seeing mostly young adults, not children.   Our eldest is only 14, and right now Kenny and Matt are twins until Olesya's birthday in August, then we'll have triplet 13 year olds for a couple of months, with Joshie bringing up the rear.  I am waiting...waiting for the other shoe to fall....waiting for all the nasty stuff I know I gave my own parents and that more seasoned parents tell us is just around the corner.  We are not naive enough to think we will get through the next few years unscathed, but at the moment, I have to say that while part of me is definitely a little in mourning for the stages now past, we are so, so blessed to watch the blossoming of 5 young people occur.

The kids and I sat around one morning this week, trying to decide what we could do for Dominick that was special.  Dominick gives up so much for all of us, and he never, ever puts himself first.  As the conversation centered around "What should we do?", we started dreaming a little about what we wished we could do.  Someone, I can't recall who, said "I wish we could get Daddy a computer...his is so old and beat up."...and it is.  He has never had a new computer, instead taking my castoffs as we update for software needs, or because one isn't working well enough to trust with financial or school data which we simply can not lose.  So he has carried around a beat up laptop that literally has the case cracked on it in two places, it is missing keys, the screen has grown ever dimmer, and he couldn't find the right battery to fit it when the original one died so he found one that fit the connection but sticks way out from the back of the laptop and is way oversized.  Basically, he has turned into the Jed Clampett of mobile technology users.

We couldn't get the idea out of our head of giving him a really special gift, and slowly we got excited as one by one each of the kids said "Well, I have  money in the bank and can give some." and I realized I had just received my payment for working at the homeschool show.  Could we do it???  The excitement grew as we realized that if we all pitched in, we just might be able to swing it!  Off we went, first to the bank where each one of the kids withdrew a significant amount of their savings to contribute, then to Office Depot, where we looked and looked at the various models, comparing features and prices.  As a group we all settled on one we thought he would like.  It was a lower end model, but it would be brand new and all missing keys and an intact case with a battery that fit along with a screen  bright enough to see well.  Matthew remembered the coupon we had saved, and there we were at the counter, counting out crumpled up dollar bills, coupons, gift cards, and probably even pocket lint :-)

We rushed home and wrapped it up, with the kids so excited I thought they would blow the surprise.  Because he is going to have to work tomorrow at the airport, we decided to have our Father's Day today.  The boys got up early and Dominick was off with Joshie doing some errands, so Matt and Kenny cleaned up the house really well, while the girls slept.  The big job for the day for Dominick was to put up their swimming pool.  I told the boys that they could help a little by preparing the ground by smoothing it out for him, then I went off to attend to laundry and other things.  Thirty minutes later I look out the kitchen window, and this is what I see:

I was stunned to see the entire pool put together without an ounce of adult help or supervision.  30 minutes, tops, and these two young men (for it is harder and harder to call them boys) had worked together as a team to accomplish this so that Dominick could have a relaxing afternoon.  I know it may seem stupid that I stood there looking out the window with tears in my eyes, but I did.  Sure, I know hard times are likely ahead with the kids, the typical teenage stuff, but these are the moments that are signals that indeed they are growing into responsible, caring, intelligent young people.  Sometimes, it isn't the big things that hit you, it is the little, day to day stuff that finds you with a lump in your throat, seeing your children differently for the first time and realizing you have just said "goodbye" to another stage of their childhood.  How I love welcoming the young adults as they slowly come into view!!  

And you have no idea how often I say prayers of thanks for the blessing of raising the most incredible kids any parent could ever wish for.  And yea, I know most people wouldn't see such acts as "incredible", and that's OK...I know it's not "showy" or really all that "brag-able".  But for Dominick and I it is such acts as we saw this week that help us feel successful.  Our success, sometimes by necessity, has to be measured differently than for others.  Seeing our kids work together, knowing they are helping each other and trying to ease the burden of their dad, well, that is about the best success I could ever hope for.

Dominick came home from his errands, and the kids all excitedly sat him down and gave him his beautiful cards made by the girls and letters from the boys, and a couple of small packages...a little candy, and a wireless mouse we got on sale to trick him.  He smiled broadly with his big ol' Italian grin, thinking that was all.  Then Matthew ran down the hall to bring in the real gift.  Dominick was SO surprised!!  What touched him the most though was that his kids obviously sacrificed a lot for this, giving up much of their savings earned this past winter working at the restaurant.  It wasn't really the price of the gift at all, it was the love behind it and the complete lack of hesitation on their part to offer to help get him a "dream" gift.

They love their Daddy, and he adores them.  A mutual admiration society, for sure.

Angela made this card out of scrapbooking paper and buttons.  She told me "Mom, you can find ANY idea on Google!".

 Olesya's creative love filled card.  There really is something special between fathers and daughters.

The fake out gift, Matthew racing off behind to bring on the REAL gift!

Five proud kids, one very special Dad.  

Family.  Love.  Togetherness.
Nothing else really matters.

Dominick, you are the father every child deserves.  You are extraordinary in so many ways.  You often hide your tender heart behind that brash Italian act, but your family knows better, and we are not fooled.  Rarely has a man ever worked harder to keep his family fed and clothed, rarely has a man gone through so much to bring love to children who were fatherless.  You may not be President, you may not be Bill Gates, but don't for a moment EVER doubt one thing...

You have changed the world.

Thank you for being who you are, for your teasing, your laughter, your strength, your kindness.  Nothing speaks louder to a child than seeing their father feed a homeless man and shake his hand, as you did last week.  Nothing speaks louder to a child than seeing their father get up day after day at 4:00 AM to go off to work so they can have their needs met.  Nothing speaks louder to a child than hearing their father correct their mother when she says "Thanks for my new pants." and even though she doesn't earn a paycheck the father says "Don't thank me, it's your money too!".  And nothing speaks louder to a child than witnessing the forgiveness of that child when they have rejected the love of that father out of fear of being vulnerable, to see that father stand there with arms open wide saying "I still love you.  I always will.  Come with me, trust me."
You are the father I never possibly could have imagined you would be, Dominick.  So often, the mothers get the credit.  Our kids would not be who they are without you.  They would not have the work ethic they already have, they would not have the zany sense of humor they have, and they would not have the stable home that they have.  In a world where so often fathers walk away...or mothers push them away thinking they are are the perfect example of why children need strong fathers.

Happy Father's Day, Dominick.  I love you, Always.


Carrie DeLille said...

So beautiful. Happy Father's Day, Dominick! What a special family and I wouldn't panic too soon. I think you may, thanks to the incredible relationships in your family, get to skip a LOT of the teenage JUNK! They/you are all so special!

Joan S. said...

Cindy, I totally agree with Carrie! You have an amazing relationship with your children. The wisdom you have in knowing how to meet their emotional needs will go a VERY long way in helping you breeze the more difficult teen years.

lou said...

Happy Fathers day, Dominick what a special family

Trudi said...

Wow Cindy. This whole post touched my heart. E very single word. You are an amazing family. Have a wonderful day celebrating Dominic and all of you!

the askeance said...

I like your family and the pictures. I like your pool too.

Anonymous said...

I found this poem which I read in church today in honor of Father's Day. It belongs to Dominick and to your family also.

My Father by Yhuda Amichai
The memory of my father is wrapped up in
white paper, like sandwiches taken for a day at work.

Just as a magician takes towers and rabbits
out of his hat, he drew love from his small body,

and the rivers of his hands
overflowed with good deeds.

Happy Father's Day to a family that loves year round,