Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dad 5.0

When I met Dear Hubby (aka Paul Tischler) in 1994, we were both idealists in our mid-thirties. At the time, I lived in Houston inside the loop in  a bright and tidy apartment with a bright and amazing roommate (Peggy Jarrett).  I worked, I played, I volunteered, I read, I exercised, I drank socially. I lived a fulfilling, ordered life. Paul, however, swept me off my feet and before I could blink, I was married, living in Austin, and designing our future.

Our plan was basically:  Get married, get pregnant, have 2 or 3 kids (one at a time, of course), raise the kids perfectly, retire early and rich, die happy.  Turns out that this design didn't even make it to Beta.

Here is what actually happened:  Make a few attempts at repairing my infertility, seriously impact my health, I have a hysterectomy, we amend our vision to include adoption, adopt two girls a year and a half apart, travel a lot, wait several years, become foster parents, adopt three at once, and forget that early retirement!

So the version  of "Dad" our family "released" has changed quite a bit since we met.  And it looks a lot different than what either of us thought being a dad meant when we grew up. Yet this is our story and we are writing it this way.

Paul is "that" Dad who takes his kids to sports. We started in gymnastics when the girls were 4 and 2.  A few years later, Dad and the girls had a 2 or 3 year stint in Tae Kwon Do. Several years ago now, first Pepper then Sunshine started fast-pitch softball and that's the one that stuck. We are down to only Sunshine playing right now but Dad is in charge of practices and early arrivals for games. In the fall, all 3 Littles will also play ball.  Paul is "that Dad" who goes to every practice and game, shags balls in the outfield during  practice, runs the scoreboard and shops for cleats.

He is also "that Dad" whose job, as he says, is to "drive, carry and pay."  He has to do more "carry" than most since that stint of trying to cure my infertility left me with a serious lack of cartilage  in the knees and not so great hips and shoulders. All that carrying he does helps me preserve my joints for the long haul and I so appreciate it! He (fortunately) loves to drive because all of these sports and their practices require a lot of driving. We also made an early decision that "the journey is the destination" so most of our trips are road trips and we have traveled about 200,000 miles in the last 18 years, most of them with Paul at the wheel.

He taught the oldest three to ride their bikes, the oldest two to roller-skate and everyone to use a fork and knife. He's the dad you see in the neighborhood on Saturdays, riding bikes or skateboards with the kids. He's also the dad that has taken a half-day off work every Valentines Day for the last 12 years to go "Valentines Bowling" with our kids. As a result, my kids think Valentines Day is a major family holiday.

Now that I am working outside the house for the first time since having kids, he is also "that Dad" that picks the kids up from daycare, takes kids to appointments, wrangles them every Saturday morning while I work, and empties the dishwasher or feeds the kids when I get home late. He's the Dad who goes to Kindergarten awards (a sacrifice greater than you realize).  He is the dad who doesn't comment on the expense when every Friday's dinner seems to be takeout and who also understands that Taco Bell is sometimes an actual necessity.

It takes an extraordinary person to decide to father 5 children. Is he perfect? Of course not. He yells, he threatens, he's overly serious at times -- but he's their Dad and they are getting a good start in life. He loves them and that's what truly matters. He's DAD 5.0.  I am grateful to share my life with him.