The Greatest Gift I got from my Dad

What are your best memories of your father?

A flood of memories come pouring back in each Father’s Day. I can see my dad rooting me on when I played a sport, I can remember him teaching me skills I needed to be independent, I  can recall watching many a college football game together. There are many, many wonderful memories. While my father gave me many gifts, there was one in particular I hold above most others, he gave me the gift of knowing myself. There are moments in time, when he would help show me what I have to offer (to another person, to a sport, to myself or to the world) simply by telling me what he’d observed. It made me feel recognized, valued and appreciated. Too often in life, you can think no one is paying attention. My dad ensured I knew that wasn’t the case. It’s the greatest gift he’s ever given me. I don’t think he realizes the impact those conversations have had. I’m grown now, but still cherish these talks when we have them and I’ll miss them desperately when he’s gone. In my eyes, while not a perfect man, he’s the perfect dad.

As you raise your child, what special memories are you creating that they’ll remember future Father’s Days from now? What’s your most treasured memories from your own dad.

Happy Father’s Day!

Counting on a Few Good (Dads) Men

Have you ever struggled to find an appropriate Father’s Day card for your Dad?  I have. There seem to be two varieties that exist: cards that imply Dad needs time away golfing, fishing or BBQ’ing; or Dad can’t control his bodily functions and loves the TV remote more than anything else. There is a third variety and it’s the sentimental kind. I usually gravitate towards these, because the other two don’t seem to fit.

My parents celebrated a milestone anniversary this year, and I was fortunate enough to be in attendance. They had most of their original wedding party and friends from high school attend. It was a joy to see so many people who loved my parents and had such fond memories of them.

After the celebration there was an informal reception, where the guests came together and we shared food and stories. I got to hear new stories of them growing up. I learned a lot about my dad that afternoon. He loved to fish–he used to do it almost everyday in the summer with his high school buddies growing up (I had no idea, the only time I saw my dad fish growing up was when he took my sisters and I out to a local lake a handful of times); and he used to be a bit more ‘wild’ than I would have ever guessed. The person I knew was my dad–a man who has always been intentional in his parenting, and actions. As a father, he was more serious than fun (I never saw him do anything even remotely wild), but loving and giving of his time with my sisters and I. I never got the feeling from my dad that he needed (or yearned) for time away from us–though he certainly could have. He was always present. He would push us to be our best, and coach, support, encourage and praise us along the way. He was (and still is) a great dad.

This year I found a card that made me smile. It said, “Dad in Chief” and had a fancy patch that looked similar to a presidential seal with an eagle and stars (the eagle is holding a small remote control in one talon, and spatula in the other, but oh well). My dad is tops in my book. He continues to be a great model of what being a dad is all about. My husband is the same with our sons. He’s present, he’s invested, he cares, and it shows. I love him dearly for it.

I feel very fortunate to have such good men in my life.

How are you honoring your dad today? How are you being the parent you want to be for your child?

Happy Father’s Day!

On Father’s Day

I never knew my grandfathers. Both passed away before I was born. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a grandfather. Someone to be a male role model and teach me things with unconditional love.

When I moved to the northwest, I met a very nice older couple who I became close with. Ken, the husband, became the closest thing I had to a grandfather. I would often see him and his wife, Ellie, on Sunday mornings. He would always greet you with a big smile on his face, genuinely glad to see you. After greeting me on one Sunday Ken said, “Boy, we just think you’re just great.” What an amazing gift. It didn’t matter to me that I was grown up I soaked up his affection like a sponge. It was the unconditional love I imagined I would have experienced if my own grandfathers had had the opportunity to meet and spend time with me. I was in awe that Ken felt this way, and had the courage to voice it to someone who wasn’t even a family member.  Ken was a model for me about how we should treat each other, and how anyone has the ability to touch another’s life.

I am grateful that I have my father still and my boys have both their grandfathers. I am captivated when watching them interact. Games of catch, fishing from the dock or seeing them watch a game together have a greater significance to me.

I’m grateful for the time I had with Ken. He passed away in recent years, but he made a lasting impression.  Most fathers (and grandfathers) do.

To all the dads making a positive lasting impression, thank you, and happy Father’s Day.

For Fathers and Men Alike

My sons and I were discussing this past week how to honor their father and my husband today. I asked them what we should make Dad for breakfast. My oldest replied, “We should give Dad doughnuts,” to which I asked “why? Doughnuts are your favorite, not Dad’s.” My son thought for a minute and stated very firmly, “Well, Father’s Day is really man’s day. And we want doughnuts.”

I couldn’t help but smile he had such conviction in his belief. “When did Father’s Day become Man’s Day?” I asked. “I don’t know,” my son replied, “but I know all men become fathers so we should honor all men too.” I realized I could tell my son that not all men will be fathers, or inquire in why we hadn’t celebrated all women on Mother’s Day, but decided that should wait until he is a bit older.

My son did raise a good point. Through a child’s eyes any adult can be a parent. And being a parent entails being a role model. And if that’s how a child sees us, then we all are role models, regardless if we have children of our own or not.

As we honor all the fathers, grandfathers and men who are or have been role models in our lives, I think about the contribution my father made in making me who I am.

Thank you to my father, my husband, and all the men out there who are making a positive difference in our children’s lives. Your presence, involvement and desire to be successful, as a parent, means more than you know.

As we served breakfast this morning, my husband got pancakes and bacon, and a few mini doughnuts. I decided the doughnuts should symbolize unity between my husband and his boys, and the power of a strong male role model.

Happy Father’s Day!

Rare and Valuable

The most valuable baseball card is the 1909 Honus Wagner, 2B Pittsburgh Pirates which recently sold for $2,800,000. The Kohinoor is believed to be the most expensive diamond worth by some potentially hundreds of millions of dollars. These items are considered rare and valuable. But are they the most rare and valuable things in the world?

I was recently in the grocery store perusing the card section in search of Father’s Day cards. First I focused on finding cards for my boys to give to my husband and their grandfathers. Then I focused on finding one for my own Dad from me. The range of cards was striking to me. There were humorous cards, heartfelt cards, straightforward and simple cards. A majority of Father’s Day cards revolved around a dad’s love of beer, golf, watching TV, yard work and struggle to control bodily functions. What struck me about this was how old-fashioned these card themes all sounded. The cards made it sound like dads sit on the sidelines of raising their child, and play the role of provider, yardman, and guy that has many valid excuses to check-out and not need to pay attention to the kids (e.g. they worked so hard and did so much yard work, they need to watch golf, and drink to recuperate and can’t control their body functions as a result). Sounds very 1960s or 1970s to me. Haven’t most dads evolved as parents?

My dad worked a lot and played the role of provider and yardman when we were kids. It was much more accepted and expected back then. He did make a point to spend time with my sisters and I. He made sure we always knew we were important to him, more important than his work and anything else he might have to get done. As we grew, Dad found more ways to spend meaningful time with us. Dad played golf, but did so with me, because I joined the school golf team. Dad was a runner, and when one of us took an interest, we would run together. Dad loved watching college sports, but preferred to watch games with my mom, and us girls. Aside from some of the stereotypical things, Dad was unique to us. He taught us to be independent, helped us on science projects and our math, coached us off-the-field in golf, softball and other sports, he was there for all of our important events including games, performances and milestone occasions. I thought everyone had a dad like mine.

As I grew older, I realized my dad shared similarities to many dads, but was different in many ways too. I have to admit, it was hard to find a man that I felt would be as good a father to our children as my dad was to us. I did find him though. My husband is a more evolved parent. He works a lot, and does yard work, but it’s because he enjoys doing these things. He’s been very engaged from the beginning, changing diapers, feeding our boys, burping them, and is comfortable taking care of the kids without me around. He makes time for his sons and enjoys spending time with them: watching seaplanes take off and land, building Lego sets together, and helping them as they learn new things. He realizes he has limited time with them before our sons will be grown and out on their own. I realize my husband shares similarities with many dads, but is different in many ways too.

To our family, Dad and Grandpa are rare and valuable, much more so than a one-of-a-kind diamond or baseball card.

To my father, my husband, and those fathers that put their family first and continue to change the way we look at fatherhood, thank you.

Happy Father’s Day.