originally published on father’s day, 2017
‘fathers be good to your daughters, daughters will love like you do’ – john mayer
fäT͟Hər: a man in relation to his natural child or children
today is a celebration of you…of all the characteristics and actions you take on in your parental role. There is probably no greater responsibility in this world, so I hope you’ve taken the entire journey seriously. And even considering that I’m now 37 years old, your job isn’t done. You can’t retire from this one. I need more from you. I’m going to ask for more help and advice in the future…and your related position as a grandfather is just beginning.
Thinking of when you began the dad journey, I often wonder what you were thinking then…if you planned it out…how you anticipated the experience. Did you put money aside…try to work extra hours? Did you want a boy? Were you nervous as hell?
I know that when I found out I was going to become a dad, a sway of emotions overtook me. And I immediately came to, ‘ok, how the heck am I going to do this?’ I read some books, inquired with other parents, and planned out many ideas…like my daughter will only eat fully organic foods, mixed up in this trendy new blender, and…I will only put reusable diapers on my daughters bum, and…I need to open a bank account for Matilda’s college fund asap! However, I found that some of these efforts were unrealistic. Some too lofty. And some came from advice from parents who made a ton of mistakes themselves. In the end, we’re all ‘winging it’ as parents…doing the best we can…and practicing a lot of on-the-job training. No one knows all of the answers. And many of the answers work only for specific children, or at specific times. Therefore, we can all judge a little less harshly.
So dad, whatever you did during that time? It’s great. You probably made some tough decisions and came through with some great execution. I thank you so much for that! You probably made a ton of mistakes too…and you know what? I forgive you for all of them. I mean, look how I turned out!
I believe it’s easy for parents to get caught up in the details of what they must do in order for their kids to be the best on the block. I find myself wrapped up in that all too often. But if we step back and take a more general perspective, understanding that parents are more than the sum of all of their parts, we can cherish dearly the fact that our simple ‘presence’ within our children’s lives is what can contribute to a successful cultivation, an overall healthier society, and a fulfilled ‘next’ generation.
After all dad, I don’t remember you teaching me how to shave. I don’t think it was you who showed me how to tie a neck tie. And I’m not sure if you showed me how to tie my shoes with the one loop method or if that was someone else. But I can’t remember a time when you weren’t present in my life. You were always either there, or one simple thought away from being there. I’ve always known where you were…or at least thought I did. I can always think in my mind where you most likely are. That must be so significant! 37 years of that presence. That takes effort, and unconditional love, and careful attention. That describes effective communication, and respect, and integrity, and strong morals and values.
Sometimes I wonder how I became a certain way, or came to understand something, or why I believe in particular ideas, or practice parenting how I do. I have to conclude that your presence has greatly contributed to that. And again, many of these things seem to have been passed down with no direct speaking of, no detailed lesson taught (even though there were those too). No, this feels more like a security that I was afforded and a comfort that I was allowed…in which I was able to grow and learn and start holding things as my own. Thank you.
I honestly do hope to be as good of a dad to Matilda as you’ve been to me. There will be so many things I do differently though, and I know that’s ok. I am trying to use that ‘presence’ though…and will continue. Time will tell!
Music: I love this song…and it does have some ‘Dad’ connections within it. Enjoy!