Happy Father's Day! While the media seems to remain obsessed with highlighting the bad, absent or half-hearted fathers out there, I look around and see examples of loving, diverse fathers on a daily basis. It's clear to me: There's no one way to be a good dad.
In graduate school, one of my professors was the breadwinner for her family, writing for TV shows like "Law and Order" and "Southland." Her husband stayed at home with their three young sons. He got the boys ready in the morning, took care of pick-ups and drop-offs, kept house and helped with homework before his wife got home. I remember being so impressed by his fatherhood and the joy he seemed to take in it. The traditional gender roles within the family were not of concern to him or his pride. He was glad to play such a prominent role in the lives of his sons.
Speaking of non-traditional, one of my favorite memories with my own dad was the Halloween costume he sewed for me in the eighth grade. I wanted to go as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Surely there was a Dorothy costume for sale somewhere, but for whatever reason (did I ask him?) Dad decided to make it from a pattern. He bought fabric, cut and sewed it, and even decorated my ruby slippers for me. I was so happy to wear it to the Halloween party at school -- not only because I looked the part, but because my Dad made it for me from scratch. His love was expressed uniquely and undeniably.
Dad inherited the gift for handiwork from his mother, herself a talented seamstress. The concept of legacy -- passing something down -- is one that does seem tied to fatherhood, whether we're talking about a biological father or not. Dad passed on a legacy for creating things with your hands. He is a skilled surgeon, so he made a living out of it. But I have a penchant for building and tinkering. I like to craft and do DIYs around the house. My brother inherited dad's love of photography and working in darkrooms.
My husband inherited one of his greatest passions from a man named Joe from his hometown in Maryland. Joe was a father figure in his own way, though he had two kids of his own. Joe was the one to teach Pete how to play basketball. He was the coach of his middle school basketball team and they spent countless hours over many years playing, developing Pete's technique, and watching NBA and Maryland Terrapins games. Joe may not be Pete's biological father, but he passed on the legacy of discipline, competitiveness, and a love for basketball (among many other things).
Today I celebrate the fathers out there -- the ones who cook and clean, the ones who carpool, the ones who teach, the ones who play and push, the ones who have chosen us even when they didn't have to, and above all the ones who love in their own, unique way.
Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent contractor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org