After my Mother's Day column was published, one of Glen's cousins approached me at a family gathering and told me he expected to see a column about farm dads for Father's Day. That'll be a piece of cake, I thought, because some of the greatest dads I know are farmers.
And, really, Glen's cousin is right: farm dads deserve just as much recognition as farm moms. Their parenting responsibilities may be different, but farm dads are balancing their commitments to family, farm, outside employment and volunteer work, too.
I think that's why farm dads are masters of making the most of every moment together, whether it's an entire day spent together tinkering in the shop or a quick meal together before heading back out to the field.
Being the oldest in a farm family, I was privileged to spend more time with my dad than any other kid I knew. We spent countless hours together milking cows and taking care of the other farm chores. Dad filled those hours with stories about his life to that point, my grandpa's life, and all of the lessons that had been passed down for generations. Lessons about life, death, farming, love - we talked about everything.
Sometime after my first sister was born, it became Dad's job to put me to bed at night. Dad's approach to bedtime was snuggling up on the couch and watching The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson until I fell asleep. Unorthodox, but it worked, and I don't remember ever dreading bedtime.
When we were cold in the barn, he'd wrap our little hands up in his and blow hot air on them to warm them up. When we got old enough, he showed us how to warm our cold hands in the soft spot between our favorite cow's udder and thigh.
One of my fondest memories is of the kangaroo rides he gave us when we were little. He'd squat down like he did for milking, hold us on his lap and hop around like a kangaroo. We asked him for kangaroo rides all the time. I didn't realize how much sheer strength it takes to give a kangaroo ride until I tried to give our kids a ride.
Likewise, airplane rides will be one of my fondest memories of watching my husband become a great dad. I give airplane rides - the kind where I lay on the floor and the kids fly on my feet. But they don't hold a candle to the turbo-jet airplane rides Glen gives. He picks up the kids and swoops them through the air, round and round in circles. They shriek with delight and beg for more.
Those rides only take seconds, but I know they mean the world to our kids.
I hope Dan and Monika remember some of the other little things Glen does, like putting their towels in the dryer before they get in the shower so they can wrap up in a warm towel when they get out.
Or letting them pull a chair up next to the sink and help with the dishes. (I can't handle the mess of doing dishes with the kids, so, to me, allowing them to help is an act of sainthood.)
Or letting them eat ice cream right out of the pail.
Dads don't seem to mind messes as much as moms do; I see the proof every time the kids have a Daddy Day care day. But, that's a good thing, because kids need to be messy sometimes.
I hope that, from these little moments of love, Glen and our children develop the type of close relationship I have with my own father.
And I hope that we can all remember to parent the way farm dads do - by making the most of every moment together.
Happy belated Father's Day!
Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 70 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have two children - Dan, 4, and Monika, 2. When she's not parenting or farming, she's writing for the Dairy Star. Sadie can be reached at gsfrericks@meltel.net.