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.