To Charley & Cali's dad -
First and foremost, that is who you are. You became a father two and a half years ago, and it has been incredible to witness how naturally you have filled that role.
To Cali and Charley, you are their dad...who happens to play baseball. They don't quite understand what that means, but Cali gleefully points to every bearded baseball player she sees on TV and squeals "dada!" Someday, they may come to appreciate what you get to do for a job, and they may think it's the coolest thing ever...but right now, all you need to do for them to think you hung the moon is be present.
PRESENT. All In. Undistracted. Full attention. Emotionally connected. Right there. What every child truly desires is to have a PRESENT father.
You understand the magnitude of the role you play in their life. You assume the responsibility to be a present father in a generation where, unfortunately, this is not a "given." Kids NEED their dads. Cali needs to understand that she is unconditionally loved by you—no matter what the world may demand of her, society tells her she should be or what she should look like. She will always look to you to feel unconditional love and security. Charley will learn what it looks like to be a man, a leader, a selfless servant, a husband, and a father from YOU. He will watch everything you do, soaking up like a sponge what it looks like to be a man of God. Lead by example, lead with intention, lead with grace. He will watch everything you do—and mimic it. And I'm so thankful it's you he's looking up to.
I know you are not physically present as much as you would like to be during the season, but MAN are you PRESENT in our kids' lives. You are in every crevice of their little world. You are in their joy, in their confidence, in their wisdom, in their playfulness, in their imagination, in their prayers. Even when you are not around, you are around. Because the moments you do get to spend with them make such a lasting impact on WHO they are.
So, Cali & Charley's dad...THANK YOU for being a present dad. Thank you for missing them so much when you go on the road that you cry tears of joy when you see us for the first time after a week away. Thank you for being ALL IN during play time—serving air out of a teapot during tea parties, knowing the name of every single Disney princess, playing dress up and practicing ballet with our Cali. Thank you for waking up in the middle of the night with our babies, and rocking them back to sleep with songs you have made up. Thank you for teaching them to pray—and to love Jesus. And that ultimately, HE is their great Father. You are giving our children a GLIMPSE of His love for us...which is overwhelming for them to think that God could love them even more than you do.
Clayton, this world needs more dads like you. Dads who recognize the privilege it is to be called "dad," and who are committed to being PRESENT in their kids' lives.
On this Father's Day, we celebrate all the dads out there like you. Our world is a better place because of y'all. You are raising a generation of strong, confident women, and wise, selfless men.
We love you, Clayton. We thank God for you being Charley and Cali's dada.