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Dear Stavroula

Ask Stavroula: There Are Dads Like These, Too

When I met him, he was about 40 years old. He had just divorced and was still trying to adapt to a lifestyle he had neither chosen nor ever thought of. No matter how hard he tried to hide it, behind the jokes, behind the laughter, behind the strolls we took, spending time with friends, the songs, he was drowning in sadness.

He had to learn to live away from his children. Waking up in the morning without hearing their voices, without preparing breakfast for them. To return home in the afternoon and not read with them. To go to sleep at night without having kissed them good night, without tucking them in.

And he couldn't stand it, because what he liked most about his life was being a father. He loves his children deeply. From the time they were babies, he took care of them, he taught them everything a son and a daughter could learn from a caring father.

Because he was not one of those dads who, when he is at home, wants peace and quiet so he can relax in front of the TV or the computer, or who think that raising children is the mother's business and thus do not know how to feed an infant, how to change a diaper, or even how to play with a child. He knew all this and was doing it consistently. And that's what hurt him the most now. How would he learn to live without daily contact with his children?

He found it very unfair to see them only every other weekend and every Wednesday, when he longed not to miss a single important moment in their lives.

He rented a house and started fixing up the space for his children. He bought desks and beds, paintings, and curtains and decorated the rooms with their favorite colors. He made his house warm, happy. He filled it with toys and musical instruments. And he would bring his children on the weekends to share music and movies, games, conversations and dreams.

He never spoke badly to the children about their mother, not because he had nothing to say, but because it was more important not to hurt them.

And the days passed. And the one Wednesday a week turned into Thursday and Friday, and Monday, too. The two weekends a month became three and four. His children came and went from his house as often as from their mother's house.

And he never sent them to their mother when the children asked to stay longer with him, even if he had plans to go out.

He never put any relationship above the one with his children, even though he really wanted to rebuild his life. When his daughter asked to come and stay with him, he didn't even think for a moment to refuse so he could have a personal life. Their peace of mind has always been a priority.

Nor did he ever feel limited by the obligations to them, even if they increased as the children grew older. Because he did everything himself, from making their favorite food, to washing their clothes.

It made him happy to have his children near him. To be beside them in their laughter and sorrow, dad, friend, and supporter. To see them spread their wings, to comfort them when they fell, and to push them to fly again.

Because there are such dads, who for their children are both father and mother and whatever else they need, we wish them all a very Happy Father's Day!

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