Watching my husband in the delivery room with our oldest child, I fell in love with him all over again. I think even Doug was surprised by the intensity of emotion he felt as he held our daughter and their eyes met for the first time.
Doug has done it well, and I am beyond thankful for that.
It wasn’t always easy for him. He loves his work, and there were years when, like many men, he got so involved with his chosen career that he forgot there were little ones that needed him at home.
Obstetrics is a challenging job for a family man. Babies come in the middle of piano recitals and birthday parties, holidays and anniversaries. The family of an OB has to be flexible and understanding, but there’s a limit to our adaptibility.
In those early years, Doug would run in to care for his patients even on days when he was not on call, no matter what was happening at home. Having been a labor and delivery nurse (and having loved it), I understood. That didn’t mean I liked it. I felt like a single mom with a money source. That wasn’t what I wanted or needed. Or what our kids needed.
One day, as Doug prepared to take off, leaving me with (then) three little kids and a planned holiday hike in need of being cancelled, I challenged my husband.
“Years from now, you will have all these patients who say, ‘I had this wonderful OB—let’s see, what was his name again?’ and you’re going to have grown children who say, ‘Yeah, we had a dad. I remember him, but he wasn’t around much.’”
Truth isn’t always easy to hear, and I am blessed that my husband listened. (So, if you are one of those whose delivery he didn’t make–you can blame me!)
That day, Doug made a decision to change how he did things. It still pains him to miss out on patient deliveries, but the thing that makes him a great doctor, is what has made him an amazing father. Accountability to God above all.
What use is it to gain the love of the world and lose your family?
Call days are call days. When he’s on, we as a family have to expect the interruptions and not resent it. After all, it is his calling and what keeps the food on the table. It brings him joy, and we love that.
When he’s not on call and we make other plans, he’s OURS. We can rely on him being there. Yes, sometimes he grumbles about missing a delivery of a particulary delightful couple. When that happens he looks at me, I shrug, smile and say, “Oh, well.”
“Oh, well!” is a meaningful phrase in our home.
He can’t be all things to everyone, and he is father to only a select few.
Doug has made every effort to be there for us. He makes family dinner most nights. It’s a priority for him, a time to connect and check on me and on our young ones. It’s a time to refresh himself, reenergize. He’s available to help and teach and talk, or just sit and watch tv. He attends church with us (unless he’s stuck at the hospital)—even if he’s been up half the night and keeps nodding off in the pew. He loves travelling and vacationing with his kids.
He loves his grandchildren.
He’s been there during the ups and downs, the tears and the cheers. He’s pushed our children hard to be the best they can be, and he leads by example.
He loves his family, and we know it. The pride he has when we talk about our children warms my heart to its deepest recesses.
First God, then his family, then his work.
It’s not always easy, keeping his priorities straight. He gets tired and grumpy like most of us. But like everything else he does, he strives to father well. I love him for it.
Thank you, Babe, and happy Father’s Day to the best man ever!
On a different note, it’s been nine months since my father passed away. I still dream of him and am sometimes startled when I make a turn at Walmart and see an old man in the power chair that looks like Dad. My heart tightens when I see the flowers he planted that are now in full bloom. I wonder if I told him “I love you” often enough, or if he felt he was more of a bother than anything else. I know he’s with the Lord and not suffering. That makes me glad. I miss you Daddy. I’m looking forward to the day we meet again.
Be sure to take the time to tell the father’s in your life how much you love them! And keep on smiling!