When I learned about the New Pathways for Good Dads program, I was really excited. I knew right away that I wanted to do everything I could to bring this program to Hannibal. I love “America’s Hometown.” That’s our city motto. We’ve only lived here for four years, and it has been good to us. We love the community, the schools, and the people. We love the small town feel and the connection to history this river town possesses. When I think of the term hometown, I think of the place where our story begins. I think of the place we grew up, and learned important lessons about the value of family, service, and community. It is because of this understanding of hometown and my love of America’s Hometown that I am deeply committed to bringing Good Dads to Hannibal. Good Dads is important to me because I know that strong families make strong communities. Too many families struggle to make ends meet, and we know that having two engaged parents in a kid’s life makes all the difference – even when those two parents don’t live in the same household. But it is even deeper than that. This is personal to me. I am grateful to have grown up with a good dad. I’m proud to say, I have a good dad. Actually, he is a great dad. In addition, I’m married to a good dad who also happens to be a great dad. And we are raising five children in America’s Hometown.
Good and great are subjective terms, and they are truly determined by the one who gets to make the claim of another’s goodness. As a daughter and a wife, I boldly proclaim the greatness of two of the most influential people in my life, my dad and my husband. I make the determination because of what I have experienced and witnessed through their actions as dads. My dad never shied away from hard conversations. I never felt unloved. I always knew my sister and I were priorities in his life. He supported everything we did, even when our musicality and flare for the dramatic took him way out of his comfort zone. He never missed a concert or a school program. Even when the teenage years brought tantrums, slamming doors and “I hate you”, screamed at decibels not meant for human ears, I never doubted his love for me. I know I irritated him, more often than not in those years, but our love remained strong. He and my mom taught me the value of hard work, and they held high expectations for me. I knew I could talk to my dad about anything and everything. I also know that both my parents sacrificed significantly for my sister and I physically, emotionally, and financially. Today, my dad is one of my most favorite people and someone I depend upon greatly for wise counsel and sound advice.
When my husband and I married, he had been married before and I became an instant step-mom to his 14-and 15-year old daughters. When my husband divorced his first wife several years prior to our marriage, he spent a couple years trying to get full custody of his girls. He succeeded. When I came onto the scene, the girls were used to having their dad to themselves. I saw firsthand some of the challenges my husband dealt with when it came to his ex. There were times I wished my husband would speak up about an inaccuracy his ex-wife had told the girls about one thing or another. Usually it was about child support or finances. He never did. He never contradicted. He never told his side of the story. In his calm, quiet way, he simply kept doing what was honorable and right. Loving his girls, being present for everything, sacrificing resources and time and being completely all in were his priorities when it came to raising his daughters. Then as we had more children together, I saw the same patterns of fatherhood displayed as our family grew with the addition of five more kids.
As I talk about my father and my husband, I recognize that even to my ears they sound pretty perfect. But the truth is they aren’t. What makes these two dads in my life so great isn’t their ability to get it all right. It’s their ability to be real and to acknowledge they don’t always get it right. They acknowledge that it’s not about them anyway: It’s about their kids. And for better or worse, they are the parent, and they know their children don’t care about perfection – they want someone who will show up. They want to know that their dad will protect them, provide for them, and be their biggest fan. Kids need to know that no matter what, they are worth showing up for. I’m grateful for the good dads in my life who taught me to be a better human because they engaged, showed up, and never gave up on themselves or their kids.
This is my why. I’m committed to helping more dads find their greatness through the eyes of their kids. I believe it will create positive change and make our community stronger. I know what having a good dad and being married to a good dad has done for my life. And I’m excited for more kids to have that experience as more dads live into their full potential as good dads. Because after all, in America’s Hometown, this is where our story begins, and where we build strong families together.