1. For getting us started on what would become our lifelong sports obsessions.
2. For playing cool music in the car and teaching us what was up and who was who in terms of artists, genres and bands. We all eventually find ourselves with a playlist of songs dad used to play, not because they make us nostalgic, but because they’re actually really good.
3. For being the first love of every little girl’s life. The one that teaches her to slow dance, and tells her he’ll always protect her, and who will walk her down the aisle one day and fix the sink, even if things become difficult in between. Dads teach daughters what they want in husbands.
4. For being the first man their sons look up to. The first to teach them to tie a tie and ask a girl out and replace a tire. For teaching sons what kind of man they want to be.
5. For being the first to believe that we really deserved nothing but the best in the people we were dating. For being a little over-protective, and a little withdrawn come new suitors. It may have seemed annoying then, but now we realize it was only because they never wanted us to get hurt.
6. All the times he filled in for mom when she couldn’t get to something, and though it wasn’t exactly his forté, he tried his best and it was cute. Like the times he tried to cook dinner but ended up ordering pizza or take out, did the girls’ hair in messy ponytails (or at least tried).
7. All the dad jokes that used to be humiliating but which we now find funny. And probably even make ourselves, if we’re being honest.
8. All the fun things he built and helped us with, like tree houses and swing sets or forts in the living room and convincing mom to let us stay out later.
9. His wisdom, because we all have that moment when we realize we’re giving a friend the same advice our dad gave us, not because we listened to him at the time, but because we grew up to find that it was true.
10. For trying to talk mom into a dog with you.
11. For his guy perspective on all things relationships, because that information, when directly from the source, is pretty invaluable while you’re trying to figure out how men work (or how you work).
12. For all the shoulder rides and rough housing that made mom nervous but you did anyway.
13. For being the first to introduce us to good beer and reality TV.
14. For rolling eyes with us while mom was freaking out.
15. Teaching us how to drive or change tires and oil or pay bills or buy a car or take a girl or boy on a date or be a gentleman or bring flowers home.
16. All the times they stood, humiliated and confused, in the feminine products aisle, calling to ask “scented or unscented?!” “Wings or no wings?!”