Father Figures: Ready Player Son

“My son had a neonatal stroke at birth, which damaged the left side of his brain. He went to Sick Kids to get his seizures under control. Once regulated, we went back home.

Over the years, he never had a seizure while awake and did everything what a kid does: play video games (his favorite was TMNT 3 on the NES), learned Muay Thai, and is a big cuddler.

He had seizures only at night ranging 5 to 10 a night and we had to take a decision that led to his hemispherectomy (cut half the brain out). This had side effects, including paralyzing his right arm.

He still wants to play video games, so I do the buttons while he maneuvers the character. He also still does Muay Thai and cuddles.

He has rough patches due to being disabled, but showing positive support he retains a positive outlook on life and pushes through every obstacle.”

– Gabriel Blouin

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Father Figures: Thank God You’re Here

“It’s 3:33 in the morning, and I, a man known by his wife to be a world-champion sleeper, am hopelessly awake.

Since I work from home these days, I’m not too concerned about having to power through tomorrow’s work day; one of the silver linings of this terrible pandemic is that instead of catching the 5:45am Manhattan-bound bus in a suit and tie, I wake up at 7:30 in mesh shorts and a t-shirt and go with my wife to get our little 9-month old daughter out of her crib.

Eventually I fire up the computer and earn my paycheck, but not before taking the time to be a good father and husband. I’ll miss this dearly when life goes back to normal.

But I won’t miss the underlying sense of concern I constantly feel for our Siena as we live amidst viral pandemic.

I never used to be this way; back in my twenties, when my bod wasn’t so dad-like, I was pretty fearless.

9/11 literally hit close to home and became my inspiration for joining the Marines. In the nine years I stuck around the Corps, I found myself volunteering often to deploy, eventually hanging it up after four tours. I never thought seriously about the possibility that I might get hurt or killed. Why bother with those harsh considerations when you are an immortal twenty-something anyway?

But the thirty-something game is way different. I used to run around with an M4 rifle strapped to my chest, my adventurous soul fueled by nothing more than Mountain Dew and a youthful ignorance sometimes known as bravery. Now, I take baby aspirin to reduce my risk of heart disease (okay, not really, but to be honest maybe I should start).

Life is not just about me anymore. It’s about the woman I get to wake up next to. It’s about the little girl in that crib who smiles and gives you this ‘thank God you’re here!’ look every morning when you rescue her from the monotony of her mandatory rest period.

No, little girl, thank God you’re here. You are my reason for being and I’m glad you’re awake.

And as uncertain as things are these days, at least one thing is for sure: there is no one I would rather be stuck with in this damn house than you and Mommy.”

– Nick De Gregorio

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Father Figures: Happy Anniversary!

“Did you play cowboys when you were young, my love? Were you the sharpest shooter in the west? I know you had dreams of riding into the sunset on a fine horse after a long day of righting wrongs.

But now, after almost 8 years of marriage and 2 babies, you’re no longer that cowboy of your Wild West dreams, you, my love, you are the horse.

The horse who carries the heavy parts of our life. Who is so steadfast and strong even within the chaos of it all. The never-stop-trying, give-it-your-all, never-give-up workhorse.

And even after a long day of carrying great loads you place your children softly on your back. You neigh and gallop through the living room as they hold on tight. And they laugh. My, how they cackle! It was always the cowboy who got the star shine, while the horse carried the burden.

Somehow though, seeing you carry our babes off into the sunset on your back I see it was always the horse that had it all.”

– Amanda Schaffer

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Father Figures: The Front Lines of COVID-19

“My brother, Ryan, became an ER doctor with a Fellowship in Emergency Management, to help others in a fast-paced and exciting environment. I don’t think much could prepare healthcare workers, or any essential workers, for this current fight against COVID-19.

At this time, he is now driving to work each shift, into the unknown, away from his family, where he will be exposed to COVID-19, often without proper protection, fighting for the lives of his patients, his co-workers, himself, and his family.

He alternates shifts with his wife, Lynzy (@lynzyandco), who is a PA in the ER, who is currently pregnant with their fourth child. They have a system of keeping their dirty clothes outside, a system of encouragement to each other, and a system of keeping life normal and fun for their three children, including ‘dress up date night’ on Fridays.

While I have heard many complaints from other families being stuck at home in social distancing, I have not heard any complaints from this family on the very, very front lines of COVID-19.

Put hearts in your windows to show support for the essential workers at this time who can’t stay home. Follow social distancing rules to slow the spread of this mess. Donate any unopened supplies and equipment to your local hospital. Do it for Ryan and do it for all of us. They are being so brave and though Ryan doesn’t ask for recognition for being a rockstar dad and physician right now, he certainly deserves it.”

– Lindsay Gill

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Father Figures: Dream Job

“My husband is finally getting his dream career! He’s a cadet in a police academy.

We left our house, family, friends, flipped our kids lives upside down so he could attend training in a different province. He quit his six-figure job to follow his dream of helping others, and to show our kids it’s never too late.

He’s up everyday at 5am, works out every morning then goes to the academy, where he studied and trains all day. After the day is done, he stays late to run his mandatory miles, studies for law exams, writes papers, stays caught up on all assignments.

He gets home most days around 7pm. Just in time to brush our kids teeth, help our daughter do her home reading, tuck the kids in and ask about their days. He always needs to make sure they are okay.

Oh, and after he’s done all of that he will massage my 24 week pregnant feet so I can relax!”

– Shianne Vandervelde

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Father Figures: Killing It

“There was a time in my life were becoming a mother seemed like an impossibility.
When I met my husband, he was already a father to a beautiful two year old baby girl. A few months later we suffered a miscarriage, and he was with me every step of the way and wiped away every single tear, and not once did it cross my mind until later that he had been heart broken too. We still are.
We got married three months later, and thus making me a stepmom. 2 years later, our rainbow baby boy came into this world. It’s been an interesting and very fulfilling life so far, but I couldn’t have done it without him.
He has been my rock, my biggest supporter, constantly reassuring me that I’m doing a good job as a mother and wife, and never once defaulting in his role as a father, a provider, a lover, and a husband. He has worked long hours to be able to give us what we want and need, and at the end of the day he still takes time to talk and spend time with the kids and later on with me.
I was lucky and blessed enough to grow up with a great father that is still a great husband to my mom. Never thought that I would be blessed once again and have a an amazing husband and even a greater father to our kids.
He didn’t have much of a father figure, but damn is he killing it as one!”
– Elian M. Holguin-Diaz

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Father Figures: Never Doubt

“My husband and I, naive as we are, decided we were ready to have baby #2 and give our two-year-old daughter a sibling. Surprise though, we quickly found out we would be having twins. My husband would get the son he wanted plus another little girl.

While the pregnancy had relatively few complications, my husband weathered the storm through terrible ‘morning’ sickness and the last two months of very little help from me – all the while taking on more household duties and stepping up to become our daughter’s primary caregiver so I could rest more before our twins were born full-term.

Now, we have three young children (two of which are very healthy newborns) and my husband could not be more thrilled despite the exhaustion and the need to lean on him while recovering from a c-section.

I could not thank my husband enough. Mostly though, I want to say to my children: congrats, because you have hit the lottery and could not have asked for a better, kinder or more dedicated dad.

You may not always get along, but you will never doubt how very much you are loved by him. ”

– Katherine Parker

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Father Figures: Every Fiber

“My husband grew up with a dad who was constantly letting him down.

He’d say things like, ‘Sure I’ll be at your baseball game. Of course I’ll pick you up after school. I’ll play catch with you this weekend.’

None of those things ever happened. His father moved out not long after my husband turned 10. The next time my husband saw his father was before my step-daughter was born. My husband was a young nineteen-year-old whose life was about to change forever and all he wanted was some fatherly advice. When he saw his dad, the conversation lasted five minutes. Four of which were spent giving directions on how to get back to the interstate.

Because of all this, my husband had to teach himself how to be a father to my step-daughter. It has been the hardest thing he has ever had to do. But he swore to himself he’d never be like his father. He has fought tooth and nail to become a better man for his daughter. Yes, he has missed some parts of her life.

No, he isn’t perfect and is still trying to figure things out. Yes, he loves her with every fiber of his being.

Three months ago he became a father again to our beautiful son. This time he’s a little bit wiser, a little bit stronger, and a little bit older. He is the most dedicated, hard working, proud dad i have ever met. I am so proud of the father he has been to both of his children despite having no role model for what a father should be.”

– Lindsey Wolf

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Father Figures: Dads Who Game Together

“I (center) met Scotty (left) and Steve (right) playing World of Warcraft back in 2006. We were mere boys then. We moved from MMO to MMO (WoW, Rift, SWTOR, LOTRO, FFXIV). Sometimes we ‘split’ but most times we were the 3 amigos. For 14 years.

I live in Wisconsin. Steve lives in Iowa (3.5 hours away) and Scotty lives in Michigan (6 hours away). We’ve met several times since ‘meeting’ online. These are my bros.

My father died on Monday, and the funeral was yesterday. They both showed up, without my knowledge.

Dads who game together, stay together. Give a hug to YOUR dad today, if you’re able, and forge those gaming friendships. One or several of them may mean more than you know.

❤❤❤”

– Todd Peterson

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Father Figures: A Mess Without Him

“On Memorial Day 2018, my husband became a father for the first time. He was still working nights while staying home during the day with our daughter. Every day the house was clean and food was cooked when I got home from work.

In December 2019, our second daughter was born. He has become a complete girl dad and still spends every day with them. We moved our family to a new state so he could quit his job and focus on our girls.

Even now with a toddler and newborn he still cleans the house every day, cooks dinner, plays, and washes more bottles than I can count. Some days aren’t easy and some days the girls are cranky but he is still doing it every day. He gets asked often when he will go back to work and his reply is when they are in college because there isn’t a sport, dance, play, or anything I’m willing to miss.

This girl dad is our rock and we would be a mess without him.”

– Elizabeth Opel

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Father Figures: Let’s Do This!

‘Are you going to be in the delivery room?’ is something I would get asked by friends and family members after hearing the news that we were going to be having our first child. I would always jokingly answer with, ‘I think I’m busy that day!’

The reality is: I was nervous. Nervous to be a new dad. Nervous of all the things that could possibly go wrong in that room and scared that I wouldn’t be able to really provide any real assistance.

My wife was scheduled to be induced on a Friday morning. We of course over packed and took a selfie outside the hospital like it was move-in day at a college dorm.

We entered the room.

The induction and labor process, thankfully, were pretty textbook. My wife labored for about 35 hours and pushed for an hour. That hour of pushing was the moment it all hit me. My wife is the strongest person I’ve ever met but this moment it was my turn to be the rock.

My dad always told me when the time comes your ‘dad instincts’ will kick in. I usually laughed it off but he was right. I did everything I could to be my wife’s cheerleader and support as she birthed our daughter and when the doctor asked, ‘Do you wanna look?’ when our daughter was about two pushes away it took almost all my will power to not say, ‘f*ck yeah let’s do this!’

The room seemed to morph and transform throughout those 36 hours. It started out almost like a tense hotel room and then we were quickly reminded it’s a hub of medical innovation and finally it’s the room where I became a father. The most important job I’ve ever had.

‘Are you going to be in the delivery room?’ I wouldn’t have been anywhere else.

– Chris Garcia

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Father Figures: My Two Dads

“My boyfriend and I began dating a little over a year ago. One thing that always drew me to him was how close he was to his family. I have never had a very close relationship to mine.

We spent a good amount of our first year together spending time with his parents. During this time, I really got to know his dad, Mike. Mike was such a special guy who dedicated much of his life to working as program scientist for NASA and the space flight team. He was also an educator like myself.

During this time, Mike was suffering from heart failure. In December of 2019, one week before Christmas, he passed away surrounded by his family and friends. I was lucky enough to witness his last moments.

Looking back, I will always remember the last conversation Mike and I had in the ICU. We held hands and he told me that he was grateful to have me in his son’s life… and then referred to me as his own daughter.

The word ‘father’ can mean many things. I always thought of my own dad as my hero because he raised me. I believed he was the only person I could see as my pop and hold in such a high regard. Now I am so happy to say that my own definition of a father has shifted.

I am one of the lucky people who can say that I truly have two dads, both equally amazing and influential in my life.”

– Jerrica Millon

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Father Figures: Because of Them

“My husband, Matthew, is the most incredible father. I knew within days of meeting him (when I was 17!) that he would be the father of my children. It wasn’t necessarily a desire at the time, more just something I knew deep in my heart that would happen. I spent over a year pursuing him until he finally agreed to date me. We’ve been madly in love ever since.

Ten years later, our first child, Amia Carolina, was born. Matthew was working 18+ hour days, rarely saw his daughter, and hated every minute of it. When she was 5 months old, he quit his job and stayed home to take care of her because he wanted to, which then allowed me to finish my dissertation and find a job.

Matthew cared for Amia for 2.5 years until our son, Archer Paulo, was born. Again, he was the stay-at-home-parent while I went to work, now a fancy university professor job.

With both children, Matthew read to them daily, took them to library time and music class, held them for naps so they’d sleep well, taught them how to laugh and have fun but also to be polite and thoughtful. He wasn’t afraid to take them places, to be the only man in a room full of moms, to change diapers, or help me pump. He always has been, and always will be, a devoted, loving, wonderful father.

Our kids are now 5 and 8 years old. They are bright, sweet, silly, beautiful children, and I really believe it is because their father devoted himself entirely to them for the first 3 years of each of their lives.

Last February, Matthew was diagnosed with a mass in his brain, glioblastoma multiforme.

Doctors told us it’s the most aggressive and deadliest kind of cancer there is. He underwent brain surgery, chemo and radiation, more chemo, and countless other drugs to try and extend his time on this Earth. Ask him on any day and Matthew will tell you he is fighting for his children. He loves them more than anything, and he’s living today – I believe – because of them.

He and I have a beautiful love story, but the love he has for his children supersedes ours by galaxies. I know he’d put them over me any day, and I’m okay with that! Similarly, Matthew’s children ADORE him. They squeal when they see him, they care for him when he’s ill, they choose him over me when they are hurt or sad.

We don’t know how much time Matthew has left with his children. All we know is that he loves them unconditionally and beyond measure. We focus our days now on building as many memories for them with him as possible.

I used to be jealous that he got to stay home with them while I worked – I was envious at the time they had together – but now I am eternally grateful that they had so much time with their daddy, that they got to bond, that he was able to be there to contribute to their lives and help shape them into the people they have become.

I am proud of him for being the kind of father that most people wish they had. I can’t fix that he’s going to die young but I know his children will never forget him.”

– Karina Hensberry

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.