This letter was published in Manila Bulletin on June 17, 2017. It was a surprise for Patrick. And he was surprised. He says he didn’t do much to deserve such praises. He says his greatest contribution was to not get in the way of my mothering, because I wanted to do so much for them and it brought me joy. Well, okay. But dads, especially mine and Patrick, play a big role in child rearing. Their physical presence and interaction during the early years of life do so much in enriching the development of a child. And the relationship between father and daughter is so special. I really believe that awesome dads who are doting and always present make a secure and confident daughter. That’s just my opinion. I wrote this to support UNICEF’s #earlymomentsmatter campaign.
Being parents to our three girls is one of the biggest blessings in our life together. Seeing them thrive in every stage of their young lives is an amazing achievement for both of us; and I am so grateful to be in this journey with you by my side. We know there will be challenges that each child will face, but having you as their loving and doting Super-Dad gives them extra strength to face the world.
I look back fondly at the time when we were new parents—those long, sleepless nights with each baby’s crying fits and diaper changes; and even when one of the girls’ poop leaked and dropped on my toes while we were out for a walk. We can now laugh at those moments, even though back then I’d sometimes ask if I was failing as a mother. You joyfully took on half of the many responsibilities—like lovingly burping the babies after each time I fed them.
From the first signs of life in my womb, you made sure I was healthy and that I got regular medical guidance. You attended all Lamaze classes and gyrated your hips during the exercises. When we didn’t get to do the last Lamaze class because Sophia was born early, you brought the manual and had to DIY the swaddling. You never missed any of my monthly doctor’s visits. You made sure I ate well and indulged me in my cravings. I was easy, though, I just liked broccoli, beans, and plums.
You became the expert baby whisperer, successfully plopping Lily’s full cheeks on your shoulder after each feed and rocking her to sleep in seconds. To this day, she has very good sleeping habits.
You were very supportive of my wish to exclusively breastfeed each baby by making sure I was always comfortable. You gave me back and neck rubs whenever I needed them, joined in the whole ritual of propping me up with pillows, and made sure I had a glass of water nearby. You knew breastfeeding was not only good for the babies, but also easier for us once we got our rhythm going. You helped me prepare pureed carrots, beans, and potatoes when it was time for them to have solids on their sixth month; and you encouraged me to continue breastfeeding even then, which I really appreciate.
When I faced challenges and felt guilt when I returned to work, you supported me through it all by reminding me that I was not only a good mom but that I’m also a strong and beautiful woman. Mothers need to hear these from their partners, even if they’re sometimes an exaggeration of the truth. Do you remember the time you almost forced me out of the house to have a foot spa and hair treatment a week after I gave birth? You knew little things like this would make me feel like my old self again. You jokingly said, “happy wife, happy life.” To that I add, “happy mom, happier babies.”
Now that they are in school, our girls are going through their lessons knowing that Dad is there to help them in Filipino and Social Studies, even if it means having to hand-draw Stella’s Tagalog vocabulary worksheets. I treasure these sketches like precious art work.
You built worktables for each of them so they could tinker, build miniature doll houses, and sculpt in clay; and we savor the joy of their drawings, sculptures, paintings, and writing.
They are also very active and well-rounded girls who love biking and the outdoors just like you do. Thank you for taking care of that department.
You always listen to them, even if at times it is challenging to hear in a house full of little women. You joined me in reading to them even when they were just babies drooling on the pages of each picture book. You watch their poetry, art shows, and plays at school with the same enthusiasm as when they perform their made-up “Broadway productions” at home. I love how you take time to make their favorite hot chocolate drinks in the mornings.
You may think I’m not looking, but I see you. I see you do these wonderful things for them, Patrick.
It is the lessons outside the classrooms that they need most help navigating life, things for which there are no blueprints or manuals. But you are always by my side, helping raise our girls to be “Wonder Women” in their own right. While young girls need good female role models, and this is why I try to be present in all their activities, nothing replaces the security and comfort a father can give his daughters. It was your role during the earliest moments in their lives that have made such difference in how they are now.
And look at them now: bright, creative, and energetic girls who bring so much joy and love in our lives and those of others. I’m amazed by their talents and their boundless creativity that started from when they were young because you helped me nurture them. Those precious times you played with them stimulated their brains.
Only time will tell if we’ve done a good job raising our girls. It’s never an easy task, especially in the digital age. Children get sad, frustrated, or angry at times. It’s natural and healthy for them to be able to express their emotions. But I’m proud and thankful you handle situations like this with so much love, patience, and understanding.
Just a few days ago, I remembered it has been 21 years since we’ve known each other. It was the anniversary of our first lunch as friends after which you never left my side. Since then, you have been my partner in every important decision in my life—work, health, home décor, travel plans, and when UNICEF came knocking at my door. It was a huge responsibility and one that I was honored to accept. You helped me make that life-changing decision and you continue to do so with each new challenge that my work with UNICEF brings into my life.
So, especially today on Father’s Day, I’m proud to call you the Super-Dad to our three girls. I am confident they will find their place in a crowded world, speak their voices in a space full of noise, and share their talents despite the intimidation of judgment in a complicated maze of female adolescence. I don’t often get the chance to tell you what an amazing husband, father, and partner you are, but let this be my way to honor you as the greatest father to Sophia, Lily, and Stella.
Thank you for all that you do.