A Father Who Stays, by Kate Anderson

I made a list once of all the great qualities and traits the perfect boyfriend would have. As a middle schooler the most important thing to me was personality. I loved to laugh so he needed to be funny. The list also included blonde hair, green or blue eyes, tall, good looking, nice, romantic, outgoing and other superficial things. As I matured, the shallowness of my list dwindled and I realized the qualities that truly mattered in a partner. Hair and eye color wasn’t a big deal anymore. He didn’t need to be a comedian. Even likes and dislikes didn’t have to be the same. What was important was sharing the same morals and values. It was having a father who loved our children more than anything despite their imperfections. When you have the same principles, everything else falls into place. I really just wanted someone who only liked me and didn’t hit on my friends as well.

In high school and into college, I started writing letters to my future spouse and praying for him. I wrote about what I hoped our future would be like and talked about all the kids we would have. I hoped he would love me just as much as I loved him. I wanted a good father for our future children. I was blessed with everything I prayed for and more. A husband who’s incredibly giving and a father who loves his kids more than anything even though they have disabilities. A father who stayed when it got a little rough. A father who drives to and from the hospital every day to visit his babies in the NICU in three consecutive years. A father who attends therapies, doctor appointments, and evaluations. A father that helps change diapers and gets up for feedings at three in the morning. A father that helps with bathtime and sings songs at bedtime. A father that chooses patience with his children after everyone else has been short with them. A father that doesn’t judge his wife after finding out their children’s genetic mutation diagnosis came from her. A father who gives up his dreams of playing baseball with his son, because he only has one kidney and won’t be able to play contact sports. A father who believes in his children and helps them every day with walking, dressing, eating and other life skills. A father that stays despite all the hardship and life-changing diagnoses. A father that shows up.

This Father’s Day is extra special for my husband. Our oldest son Nicholas came home from the NICU exactly five years ago on June 21, 2015 on Father’s Day. He has always cherished this day, plus it made his first Father’s Day that much more memorable. I ended up throwing away the letters to my future spouse before giving them to him. Something convinced me it was a stupid idea, even though now I realize it wasn’t. And I trashed my superficial list a long time ago. I wanted a man who wanted just me and a father who would love our children unconditionally. And that’s what I got.

Kate lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. You can read her writing at her blog This Special Journey.

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