Ah, June, the beginnings of summer break, and the month we celebrate grads and dads. I attended two graduation ceremonies this year and made the circuit of parties. After one ceremony, as I maneuvered through the throngs of people rushing to find their graduates, I happened to notice a co-worker. He’s a single man who has raised his only daughter, a graduating senior. Amidst the celebratory hugs and smiling photo-ops, he was standing alone, uploading a few pictures. He shrugged when I asked where his daughter was; the boyfriend and her friends trumped him.
We are teachers, and I mentioned I was looking for a student we had taught. As we approached the student, she gave us a big smile but gave him an enthusiastic hug. She was genuinely glad to see him. As we talked, I noticed her family was waiting patiently, and the obvious absence of her father. She bubbled over with appreciation of my co-worker. Even though she was in his class years ago, she wanted him to know how he had challenged and mentored her as if he were her father. He played a part in her important night.
In contrast, at one of the parties, that evening, things were a little …awkward. The tension between exes was almost palpable, and even a casual observer could sense the lines of division. During one harsh ex-wife rant bashing all of male-kind, I slipped out to find my husband. I felt as though he, as a man, was owed an apology for her bitter comments. This woman had nothing but blame on her child’s important night. I wanted my husband to know my feelings toward men in no way echoed the drama momma, although I understood her pain of betrayal. My father walked out of my life years ago and never looked back, yet through the loving actions of my husband, the commitment from him, my co-worker and so many men like them, I am sure male-kind has redeeming members.
We need to celebrate Dads and the men who continue to be men of integrity. Fellas, you may not know, but others watch from afar and notice. Some of you are truly men of quality.
Thank you for being men, who despite the difficulties of divorce, work schedules and ex’s, you continue to show up and have a part in your children’s lives.
Thank you for being men, who don’t mind giving others a glimpse of kindness despite your tough exterior.
Thank you for being men who continue to love, despite teenage hormones and walls of rejection towering against your time and efforts.
Thank you for being men who love their daughters, so they will recognize qualities hoped for in their futures husbands.
Thank you for being men who have inside jokes and traditions with their kids, despite the fact they may only be enjoyed every other weekend.
Thank you for being men who embarrass their kids because you are just crazy proud of them. Through your actions, others smile with you because we recognize the price, but you dared to express it openly.
Thank you for being men willing to do the hard work of relationship. For some, you might be filling a void, for others, you are a steadfast source of strength and support.
The world still has some pretty amazing men. I’m married to one, and I’m proud to work with more than a few who, as teachers and coaches, aren’t afraid to be authentic. Husbands, Dads, teachers, coaches – Gentlemen when you’re willing to do the work, others notice, and you change a life.
Lauren Crews is an author, blogger, and teacher. Married to her very best friend, and together they have raised three pretty terrific kids.