We just got you back, and you’re gone again.
You’ve missed birthdays and Christmases, anniversaries and Thanksgivings.
You’ve missed big days and little moments, first dance recitals and last days of school, all because you felt in your heart the call to serve.
And here we are, on this day dedicated to recognizing you, staring at the empty chair across the table and once again counting days until you return. But today we aren’t sad. Today we are celebrating. We are rejoicing in having a father that sets the ultimate example for his children, the example of sacrifice and service.
In a world full of sorrow and sadness, you bring so much joy and light. I’m thankful for you every day, but since it’s Father’s Day and all (and I know how much you love reading my lists), I wanted to give you five reasons that you, and all military dads, are extra special.
You are the superhero in our family
Our kids worship you. You don’t need a cape. You have patches and medals and ribbons. In their minds, every time you walk out the door it’s because you’re off to save the world. You and I both know there are days that the only thing you save is an email, but our children think otherwise. You are the ultimate good guy, the rescuer, the one they pretend to be. You’re not just protecting Gotham, you’re defending our entire nation and the very ideals that allow us to be free. “Be brave like Daddy,” isn’t something I taught our five year old to say to her little brother; it’s what she’s learned from watching you.
You love me
The greatest lessons our children will ever learn will be delivered in tiny, unsuspecting moments in our own house. They’ll see it as they peek around the corner and you’re dancing with me in the kitchen. They’ll notice it when you reach for my hand on the couch, or wink at me across the dinner table. They’ll hear it in the kind words we use to speak to each other, and they’ll feel it in the ways you honor our marriage. You are showing both of our children the importance of integrity, gratitude, and respect. The way you treat me is more valuable than any lessons our children will learn in a class.
You make the most of your time at home
Whether it’s duty, meetings, or mandatory fun, even when you’re home you miss things. I know you feel it. Add deployments to the mix, and, well, you know you miss a lot. But when you are home, oh, when you are home, you are really here. Camping in the backyard, playing cards, telling bedtime stories– you make enough memories in a weekend to sustain our babies for a year. Holidays are fluid and dates are just numbers in squares on a calendar that doesn’t have the capacity to consider ops. You help us celebrate early, or late, and you teach our kids that valuing our time together is what matters, not how often or when.
You don’t have to be here to be present
You are always a part of our narrative; you’re here even when you’re gone. You send emails when you can, you call if you have a chance, and you are always in their thoughts. They miss you, and sometimes it hurts, and that is a beautiful part of their heart that I won’t protect them from. But the reality is, your time away is but a blip on their radars. Their script has you in it every day. No matter where you go, what you do, when you come home, you will always be their daddy. Time and distance can never–will never–change that.
You are an incredible man and dad
I never wondered if you’d be a good dad; I knew you would be, because you are a really, really great man. You are sincere and gentle, you are loving and loyal. You have an easy laugh and dimples that make other people smile. I knew from the moment you held our first baby in your arms that you would protect her with your life. And I hope that our world appreciates that, that you, as a member of the United States military, have already said you’d lay down your life for our freedom. And just as I know you’d die to protect that, you would go to the ends of the earth, over and over again, for our children.
I hope the world understands that “the men and women of the Armed Forces” are mommies and daddies, too. Our children will understand sacrifice and they will know service firsthand. I’m thankful they won’t ever take our liberties for granted because their daddy was willing to serve.
You are the love of my life, the mac to my cheese. You are the ups when I am down and the ins when I am out. Happy Father’s Day, my love. Thank you for being the wonderful dad that you are. Hurry home.
T. T. Robinson is a proud Navy wife, writer, and crisis management consultant – a skill that proves useful as the mother of two young children. She is the author of the New York Times Deployment Diary, featured contributor for SpouseBuzz, and political correspondent for NextGen MilSpouse.