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Guests and Ghosts

Happy Father's Day!

This year, like many of you, I woke up and celebrated Father's Day with my family. My kids and I showered their father/my husband, Doug, with homemade gifts from coffee filter art to cards!! I sprinkled in some other gifts just to show him how much we appreciate him and then we headed out for a crazy family brunch at a local restaurant.

Shawna family

Father's Day is important for many reasons to all families, but for Doug I feel it's a remarkable day to celebrate the selflessness he shows every day for his kids. Being a parent is no easy job and being a special needs parent makes the task at hand ten times harder some days. It's not relaxing to wear all of the hats he needs to wear for our family. Based on sheer strength alone, Doug often ends up being the muscle when we need Gavin to do a less preferred activity. For instance when Gavin needs a haircut or has to change into clothes for a more formal event, Doug is the one who has to physically hold him down. The last time we did this, about a month ago, Gavin wouldn't go near Doug for an entire day. He would walk up to me and say "no love, daddy". I could visibly see the pain in his face and the heartbreak he felt from these words. Even so, he knew he did what he had to do to get Gavin a haircut.

gavin

Many people assume the responsibility falls to the mom to take care of the child for doctor's appointments, school visits, etc. However, that is not the case with me and Doug; we have a team approach to everything. We attend doctor's appointments together and share all of Gavin's pick-up responsibilities. Before Gavin was in school Doug used to take Mondays off to spend 8 hours of therapy appointments with him. He was one of the only dads attending the play groups, but he went with question or resistance. He always puts our children first.

Doug KendallThe other important piece to Doug's role as a father is for our amazing and beautiful daughter, Kendall. I used to joke that the two of them were like oil and water. You couldn't put the two of them together without some disagreement developing, even when she was only two years old! Nevertheless, over the last year I have watched an amazing transformation; I have observed Kendall realize she is daddy's little girl and that he will do anything for her. The last four years Doug has established a tradition of taking Kendall out every Valentine's Day as his date. It has become so special to both of them. This year she told me that her favorite month is February not only because it is her birthday month, but also because it is her date month with daddy!

Doug and I have equally stepped up our game with Kendall over the last two years. We never want her to feel left out because so much attention is given to Gavin. We ensure that she is consistently receiving extra time and rewards with both of us. She has the biggest heart and we would never want to change that about her. If we didn't devote the time and energy to making sure she was included she could very easily become resentful to all of us. Finding a balance is not easy, but with amazing kids like ours you make the time even if it means sacrificing something you wanted to do. Their nightly routine now is to read Elephant and Piggie, books by Mo Willems, before bed every night. They fight over who will read which parts and I see remnants of their old arguments

When Doug proposed to me in 2003, even though I thought he was breaking up with me (the proposal definitely deserves its own blog post one day), I knew this was a man that would make me laugh for many years to come. I could have never envisioned what our life would be or the struggles we would have together, but I was right about laughing together. Sure there are days that we fight; what couple doesn't?! There are moments we feel like no matter how hard we push to be strong, make a difference, be an advocate, the end result is the same, one new fight after another, and sometimes you just don't want to battle anymore. However, we strive to pick each other up; we find the strength when the other can't. I never realized what our partnership would develop into during our early twenties, but now I can't imagine this journey with anyone else.

Doug and I sacrifice a lot to make everything work for our kids; date nights, vacations, etc. are just non-existent for us. However, when I look around, I am never alone. I have the man who promised to be by my side there for me; fighting this battle called parenting together. I knew he would be a great husband, but I had no idea what an amazing father he would become. Watching his love for our children is the best gift I could be given. He is their hero and he will do everything in his power not to fail them. If that's not love then I don't know what is!

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