Next weekend will be my 17th Father’s Day.
As the dad of a child with profound special needs, my day will be anything but that of a typical dad, or a typical Father’s Day.
My son is totally non-verbal and so for the seventeenth consecutive year, he won’t wish me Happy Father’s Day.
My son has limited motor skills so there will be no Happy Father’s Day card for me.
No breakfast in bed.
No handmade gifts or presents.
No going anywhere special for the day as dad and son. No rights of passage. No Hallmark moments between father and son.
No awesome planned activities just for a dad and his son. No memories will be made. No Facebook pictures will be posted.
Truthfully, my son won’t even know that it is Father’s Day or what that even means.
But there are some things he will notice and that will resonate with him.
When he gets up, he will find that his dad is still there. Not just there, but involved and engaged with him.
Although he may not know or understand what the words mean, my actions alone will demonstrate how determined I am to be the warrior, protector, provider,encourager and equipper that my role as a special-needs father requires.
I will be his eyes, his feet, his voice, his advocate, and his champion. And when he metaphorically needs someone watching his back, he will always find me there, “checking six.”
Paul said of God that nothing would ever separate us from God’s love. No power on heaven and earth could come against or break that bond.
My son can know the same of me. There is nothing that could ever separate him from my love.
He knows he will get plenty to eat, have clothes on his back, and his every need will be attended to and provided for by his dad.
He knows he can feel safe and secure, loved unconditionally and found perfect just the way he is by his dad. He will be blessed, affirmed, encouraged, and have no doubt how much I love him the way he is, simply because he is my son.
This is my post. Although many days I feel wounded, vulnerable, ill-equipped, and unprepared, I will not abandon my post.
I will be a better dad today because of him.
I will be a better man today because of him.
I will be a better follower of Christ today because of him.
Measure the depths of my strength as a dad by the depths of my love for my son.
And at the end of Father’s Day, as we do every day, we will go to his room where he has a giant platform swing.
For however long he wants I will push him in that swing.
I will sing songs over him the whole time. I will juxtapose blessings and prayers over him. Nothing will be allowed to interrupt our time together. My smartphone will be in the other room.
At some point when he is ready to stop, he will make eye contact with me. That’s pretty difficult for a child with autism. He will flash me this open mouthed grin, and throw his arms up to hug me.
As I hold him close on his unstable legs and twisted feet, he will hug me tight, bang on my shoulders, and kiss my cheek.
No we won’t do anything special or even typical for Father’s Day.
Then again, I am truly blessed though.
I realize now that I already have the greatest gift I could ever receive. I just tucked him into bed and said, “Goodnight Superman.”
For me every day is Father’s Day.
I don’t need a card or cheesy tie to prove it.