My sweet little loves,
By the time you can read this, you'll probably already know. You won't need me to remind you of how incredibly lucky you are. No one will need to tell you just how special your dad is. But just in case, on the off chance that you think all fathers are as devoted as your dad, let me tell you a little story....
Today Dad had the afternoon "off." By off I mean that he waited until he had bathed you and tucked you in last night (bath & bed is kind of his thing), then drove 3 hours to Knoxville for work. He spent less than six hours at a hotel, had a work meeting, then drove 3 hours home. There are lots of people he would love to see in Knoxville--friends, former co-workers. But he didn't tell anyone he was there. He wanted to get home to you. He knows that you feel sad when he isn't the one who gets you out of your crib in the morning, and he wanted to get back to you. Then, instead of checking out or taking a nap, he took you to the library. He's been talking about getting you library cards since the day you were born, and because it was far too hot for any outdoor activities, he wrangled three kids under three into the library all by himself, teaching you about checking out books. He took pictures, and your faces glowed with excitement and pride.
This sounds like it should be an anomaly, but I promise it's not. This is just the way he operates. Every day, all day, he puts your needs above his. And he doesn't consider it a sacrifice--he loves you so very dearly. When Mom & Dad were trying to have babies, it wasn't just Mom who ached to be a parent. Dad was made for this role....he was designed to love and cherish and nurture and raise you. I always knew he had the heart of a servant, but I never really understood how deep that quality ran until I saw him with you.
Barnes, you are truly Dad's little buddy. When you ask him to "wrestle you," it's music to his ears. He watches your little quirks--wanting to mark on every brick, having to have your stuffed animals just right--and he sees what he was certainly like as a little guy. He loves your sweet, tender spirit, and encourages you to be truly and fully you. Already he dreams about the father/son trips that he will take with his sons, and he can't wait to share all life offers with you.
Frances, I've never seen a girl with more power over a boy. Your dad adores you. I tell him all the time that he is soft on you, letting you get away with things that definitely shouldn't be allowed, but I know he can't help it. From the moment he held your tiny hand in the NICU, he has been irrevocably in love. He encourages your sweet, soft side, but loves your rough and tumble moments as well. He cherishes the smiles you send his way. The thought of any of his children "leaving the nest" one day seems a little surreal, but I know that even more than his boys he can't imagine ever saying goodbye to his little girl.
Shepherd, Dad is unimaginably devoted to you. Even through the rough months, Dad was there for every moment. I think it started on the day you were born...from the moment you entered the world, Dad didn't leave your side, and he really hasn't since. You are Dad's mini me, and he carries you around every chance he gets. I love watching him tote you around, and your smile shows the world that you love it to. We call Dad your "night nurse." He has been getting up to do your night feedings since you were 3 weeks old, and at night no one else can calm you. You adore him...and the feeling is mutual.
Dad pours himself out for the three of you each day. I know that throughout your lives, your greatest lessons on God's unconditional love will come from watching your Dad love you. Please never forget how special you are to get to be his sons and daughter.
Oh, and I really really really love you too!