An Open Letter of Appreciation to My Husband on Father’s Day

I didn’t know what fatherhood should look like until you

thompson family father's day

Photo: Shayne Rodriguez Thompson

I didn’t know what fatherhood should look like until you. We both grew up in broken homes with absentee fathers and to be honest, I never imagined myself having kids until we got married. My dad was there when I was very little, but after my parents separated, months — and sometimes even years — would go by without hearing from him. I watched as my mom’s friends and sisters got divorced or were simply abandoned by the fathers of their children, and I wanted no part of it. As we approach another Father’s Day though, I’m so glad I took the leap with you.

Despite — or perhaps because of — the fact that you haven’t seen your own father since you were a toddler, YOU are the best example of a devoted father I’ve ever seen. You’ve had no example to follow, but you’ve parented with love, passion, and instinct since Day 1. You put so much pressure on yourself to do right by our two children and while that admittedly sometimes ends up in heated debates between the two of us, I know that it’s because you care just as much as I do.

After 10 years of parenthood, I sometimes take your commitment to our kids for granted, but there are still moments almost daily when I see you with them and I’m just in awe. I didn’t know it was possible for a man to care so much. Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s in a Latino family, men just didn’t show much vulnerability, not even with their kids, and while you almost always put up a strong facade, you are tender and thoughtful too. It is a revelation to me to see you sit and do homework with them, make them thoughtful snacks, and teach them how to do your favorite things. I never would have thought my kids would be playing chess!

thompson vacation

Photo: Shayne Rodriguez Thompson

Not only do you provide financially, but you make every effort to be present for our children emotionally, and if I’m being honest, you sometimes have even more patience and understanding to offer them than I do. You don’t pick and choose the parts of fatherhood that you’re comfortable with and slack off on the rest, you embrace every aspect of it.

But there are also the things you don’t even realize you’re doing. I know they’re watching though, and I recognize what a difference it will make for them as they grow up and even once they’re adults. You are teaching them how to love another person each and every day, when they see how you interact with me. They are not just learning what to expect from a father, they are also learning what to expect from a partner. They are learning what it looks like to be in an equal partnership in a romantic relationship, and the impact that will have on them, is something I’m incredibly grateful for.

I know you are determined to change the cycle. I know that you want better for them…more for them, than either of us ever had from a father. But I also know that you don’t even see everything that you are doing as a dad. I do though. You choose us each and every day. You choose us over yourself and you choose us over everyone else, and that perhaps, is the biggest thing of all. Your kids…your family, are not merely an inconvenience to you.

It’s evident in the way you come home after working a double and you stay up to spend 20 minutes with them before school, in the way you get excited about taking them for a surprise treat or to see a fun movie, in the way you always listen to their long stories with patience, and show interest in their interests.

I grew up thinking dads just didn’t show up. I thought fathers spending time with their children was something that was optional. I knew that it hurt when my dad wasn’t there, or even worse, when he said he would be and then wasn’t, but I didn’t fully comprehend that there was another way, until I watched you with our newborn son all those years ago. Whether you realize it or not, I’ve been watching every day since.

Thank you for never being afraid to take the risks or make the sacrifices — emotionally and physically — to be the best dad and husband you can be. It hasn’t always been easy, but you’ve always gone all in, and I couldn’t be more thankful for all you’ve done and everything you continue to do every day.

It brings me so much comfort to know that our son will know how to be a dad if he chooses to be one day, and that our daughter will not spend the hours and hours crying over a daddy who didn’t visit when he said he would or worse…never made it home after work because he was out partying, and couldn’t bother to call.

You’ve shown me that fatherhood can be beautiful — that it doesn’t have to hurt. So this Father’s Day, I hope you know that you haven’t only helped our kids, but you’ve helped me too. Seeing you be a dad to our children has helped me heal from the hurt I dealt with in my relationship with my own father for so many years of my life. Honestly, it’s helped me forgive him, because knowing that my kids won’t go through what I did, has allowed me to put that trauma behind me, and embrace my dad for who he is today.

We love you more than you know, and I hope with all my heart that being a dad has helped you heal as well. Witnessing your fatherhood journey has broken down my walls and changed how I see fathers, men, and even myself. Yes, you’ve really done all of that. For them. For me. For Us. Happy Father’s Day, my love.

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