We celebrated 39 years of Mike yesterday.
As I frantically assembled his favourite meal, the girls finished up their birthday cards and pictures.
As I cleared the clutter off the dining room table and set it with place mats, fancy napkins and wine glasses, the girls taped their birthday sign to the front door and waited to surprise their daddy.
When he walked in, he feigned his surprise with perfection and enjoyed hugs and kisses from all of his girls.
Finally we sat down together to eat.
As is tradition in our family, at your birthday supper, we go around the table and offer a favorite thing about the birthday person, or something they do that you're thankful for.
Sasha was quick to go first. "I'm glad that you don't hit us or slap us", she said, while looking up at Mike with her toothless grin.
We all laughed a little. But we knew what Sasha was saying. Her daddy is gentle. And for that she's thankful.
Ellie went next. "I love the way daddy plays with us." (I still love the presence of the word "daddy" in her vocabulary - such a more endearing term than "dad".)
We knew what Ellie was saying too. She's got a daddy that plays games, does puzzles, and hangs on monkey bars.
I went next. I told the girls how thankful I was for them to have a dad who is quick to say,
"I made a mistake"
"Will you forgive me?"
Hannah finished us off. "I'm glad that dad makes us laugh". And he does.
There is something about the sparkle he gets in his eye when he knows he's got the girls eating out the palm of his hand. Those times when he's the only show in town and they're his adoring fans.
We live in a house with the Gentle Giant.
His voice is soft and he loves hugs and kisses on the lips.
His wish for his birthday evening was to have the girls give him a good back-scratch and play a game of Dutch Blitz.
He's with his girls in all of the ways that matter.
He's not perfect, but he's here.
He's gentle and funny and present.
And we're so glad he's ours.