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Real Men Wear Aprons… and Sometimes Even Tights

Ken Bartlett

I’ve wished for a lot of things in my life.  But the one thing I don’t remember ever wishing for was a different dad.

Admittedly, there were times I wished I belonged to a different family, but I’m pretty sure even in those fantasies, my dad was still around.

That’s because I always needed my dad to be around.

I still do.

My dad was never the most macho dad. Or the most protective dad. Or the coolest dad.

But I have absolutely no doubt that God intended for him to be my dad, because there is no other man who could have taken that job on and still come out sane on the other side.

And yes, he is still sane. At least he was last time I talked to him, although he likes to pretend otherwise.

But then, my dad has always enjoyed pretending, which is why I always appreciated him so much.

Sometimes my dad would pretend that he didn’t care about my Mom’s strict rules about food.  My overly health conscious mother would have been shocked had she known about the secret stash my dad kept and would sneak to my brother and me on special occasions.

Sometimes my dad would pretend that he wasn’t as excited as we kids about a new toy, like when he secretly bought our family’s first color television while my mom was out-of-town. We were a one, black and white television family and that time, and he did do his best to hide the new TV from my mother as long as he possibly could. And, as I recall, a great deal of time passed before she actually discovered our new prized possession.

And most importantly? When I was a teenager? My dad would pretend that he didn’t see and know all the things I shouldn’t have been doing.

But my Dad also liked to pretend even in non-real life situations. Dad has always loved being on stage. One of my first memories is of my Dad playing Winnie-the-Pooh. But in general, he played more mature roles. . .even those that required him to stretch a bit. Literally.

When he took a role in Romeo and Juliet, he actually had to wear tights. He’s the only Dad I know who ever wore tights. And more importantly, he wore them so well,I’m probably the only teenage girl who wasn’t embarrassed that her father was wearing tights.

But then again, I don’t remember being embarrassed by my father, with the exception of one significant event—when my dad took early retirement to avoid requiring our family to move (again), when I was a teenager. At the time I resented the fact that, while in all the other houses in our neighborhood dads got up and went to work, in my house, it was my mom who went to work.

Yet through all this resentment, I was also grateful.

I was grateful that my dad was always interested in whatever interested me. I was grateful that my dad attended whatever event I was part of.    And yes, I was grateful that my dad was doing the cooking instead of my mom.

Actually, grateful doesn’t even begin to cover my appreciation that he took over that chore.

But, here’s the thing about my dad, and I say this with absolutely no disrespect to my mom, he made the better mom.

When I was sick? My dad was always the one who was up all night with me. When I upset? My dad always sensed the problem and dealt with the situation in a sensitive manner. When it came to building my self-esteem? My dad who knew just what was required to build it up. And when it came to worrying about my brother or me? Yes… my dad always put a lot of energy into that too.

But the most important thing my dad ever did for me? He demonstrated what real man, and a real husband, is.

Granted, my husband would never be caught dead in tights.. or an apron for that matter… but other than that? He’s got a lot of the same great qualities. And for that I’m thankful to my mom for marrying my dad and I’m thankful for my dad for just being himself.

Happy Father’s Day!