My father would always push me to ask for things -- even, and especially, when I was completely embarrassed and afraid to. As a kid, I cringed whenever he did this -- I hated it. But as an adult, I'm thankful he showed me value of getting out of my comfort zone.
My father loved movies. The tiny apartment he shared with my mom was inundated with more than 1,000 movies on tape and DVD, films he'd carefully catalogued and conscientiously cross-referenced by title, director and actor.
It's one thing to be a single mother by choice. It arrives with a positive narrative to tell your child. It's a whole other everything to have single motherhood thrust upon you -- because the father has unconscionably chosen to abandon his child.
The best gift is the hug I get when I put you to bed, or the laughter I get when I tickle you, or the thirty minutes of extra sleep you give me every fifth weekend. None of those are premeditated, or holiday-specific; they're just you being you. And that's all I need, every day.
Although getting something for dad has been on your to-do list for weeks, you still haven't been able to cross it off. I know that it's not because you don't care. Dads are just notoriously hard to shop for, and yours is no exception.
Whether biological, step or adoptive, the influence of a father figure in a child's economic life is wide reaching and long lasting. Even the absence of a father figure has a lifelong effect on a child.
You are the first man that I ever loved. You are my hero. Your arms were the first place where I felt so safe and protected. The smile that comes upon your face when you see me makes me feel so cherished and adored.
I've been a dad long enough to know that the real value of fathering is found in the unplanned, day-to-day moments. Reading letters from these soldiers is a humbling reminder of the countless moments that our military dads -- and the fathers of those who serve -- give up and lose.