Gavin and the boysDads are the best thing since sliced bread. Yes, I know, moms are usually the ones who get the most credit for doing a good job raising the kids, but this mother certainly wouldn’t cope without the help of her husband. For one thing, my husband plays rough, which I can’t do. He walks around on all fours while our two sons pounce on his back playing their Tarzan games. Dad is an expert Lego builder. In fact, so strong is this genetic trait that our eldest son has been following Lego instructions, despite not being able to read yet, since the age of three. He already outstrips me when it comes to Lego construction technique.

Gavin playing with the boysBut what I love most of all about the father of my children is the support he gives us. When he’s away, I feel it. Doing the dishes after supper (my least favourite chore!) is when I miss him most. He often gets up during the night to guide a wandering boy back to bed. He is a dab hand in the kitchen, preparing the most delicious meals (his tomato and herb chicken is my favourite). He does not roll up his eyes when I ask him to hang up the washing if I’m rushing off somewhere. His willingness to lend a hand around the house makes the world of difference to me – especially when I’m fatigued and want to rest or need to get out the house to gain some perspective again. (Six hours straight of looking after kids can do that to you.)

But what my husband does cuts deeper than feeding the boys breakfast or dressing them for school. It’s really about being there for them and defining their identity. Boys need fathers (girls do too, for that matter). They speak words of encouragement into their souls, saying: “I believe in you. You’re really good at doing this or that. I’m proud of you. God has great plans for your life.”

I was speaking to someone a few weeks ago and she was sharing her heart. She said she was struck by how few people in South Africa really know their fathers. She spoke about a fatherless generation. And sadly she’s right. It’s not just among the disadvantaged communities – many affluent families also suffer from absent fathers. How tragic not to know the love of a father and the security that he brings. Fathers have such a pivotal role to play in shaping their children’s lives, for good or bad.

Grandpa with the boys 1My own father taught me to love play. He was always goofing around and making us laugh. When he read stories, he would put on funny voices for different characters (much to my older sister’s annoyance). He tickled us and we rode horses on his knee. He let us sing songs on his work dictaphone and then played them back to us. He taught us to ride our bikes and loved explaining how things worked. When we asked him what a word meant, he would say, “Look it up in the dictionary.” He was always encouraging us to pursue knowledge and to grow our understanding of the world around us. We still have long philosophical conversations and when I’m rooting around for more information on a topic, I often ask for his advice. His tongue-in-cheek response is often: “Do you want the long answer or the short answer?”

Gavin reading to the boysOf course, my father hardly helped at all with the housework. Neither did my father-in-law. In fact, he once shared the secret of how he got out of changing his children’s nappies. “You just stab them once with the safety pin,” he whispered conspiratorially, “and then you’ll never have to do it again.” My own father did something similar, although not on purpose. He spilled hot milk all over me as a baby in the middle of the night (the idea was for him to do the feed so that my mom got more shut-eye). Naturally, I bellowed and wailed. My poor mother had to bath me and clothe me in the wee hours and prepare the bottle again. Needless to say, Dad never got that job again.

But I am so lucky to have married a new-generation man who knows how to do practically everything that you need to run a house – from cooking and washing to paying the bills – plus he does it all with alarming speed. I take about an hour to tidy away and do the dishes after a meal. He takes half an hour, while checking his e-mails at the same time. He has a beautiful servant heart which is such a blessing to us. My family think I’ve married a saint. I think they’re right.

Gavin with the boys in bedGavin – hats off to you, my love. Thank you for being the leader in our home, for your humility and quiet fortitude. Thank you for taking the time to discipline our children with love. Thank you for speaking words of life and hope into their hearts. We all so grateful for all that you do for us.

Here’s a message from our youngest: “I love Daddy because he fixes some of our toys. And he puts together just right how they are supposed to be first. Hapy Father’s Day!” This time it’s your turn to have breakfast in bed.