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.

Mother Bear

My boys wanted to see the Disney Nature film Bears that is playing in theaters now. The movie follows a mother bear and her two cubs during their first year of life. There is a scene where the mother and her cubs meet other bears in a field. It is the first time the cubs have ever seen other bears. The narrator focuses in on the male cub, Scout, and how he may be trying to determine who his adult role model should be in the field. The narrator continues by covering the various male types there–the dominant bear, the strongest bear, most persistent, disinterested, etc. The narrator doesn’t answer who Scout selects, but leaves it with the viewer to try to determine.

Throughout the movie, the bears incur many struggles–trying to get food, fighting off other animals and sometimes fighting off other bears. It is a difficult journey they make. The mother bear is a mix of what I think most of us, as mothers would want to be. She’s tough when needed, protective, loving and determined to teach her children not only how to survive but to thrive. She is a role model for us all, and as it turns out, she was the role model Scout had been looking for in the field earlier in the movie. As the narrator explains, he didn’t have to look far for his role model because his mother had been right by his side all along.

As a mother, many of us desire to be that same role model for our child. It can sometimes seem difficult or challenging, but knowing how important our job of being a mom is, we keep at it determined to do the best job we can.

Who was your role model growing up? How are you being a role model for your child?

To all the moms out there–Happy Mother’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!

Wooden Teeth and Honesty

As we observe President’s Day this Monday, we are reminded of some of our most famous forefathers, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. When I was a child I knew a handful of things about George Washington:

  • He chopped down a cherry tree – I never thought to inquire why?
  • He never told a lie
  • He was our first president
  • He had wooden teeth – I did wonder how did he eat with wooden teeth? That sounded like a really hard thing to do.

As a child I knew the following about Abraham Lincoln:

  • He wore a tall hat and had an interesting looking beard
  • He was honest
  • He freed the slaves
  • He is on the penny – I never thought about what it took for someone to end up on currency. My child’s mind determined you had to be highly respected. My parents definitely instilled the belief that there is a direct correlation between honesty and respect.

As I reflect on our past and present leaders I think about the role they have played in leading our country and the example they set for our children. We are brought up to respect these leader, they were wise, their names are synonymous with honest and being truthful, and they were people to respect. They may not have been perfect (they chopped down a cherry tree), but they do try their best (they never lied or at least we’d like to believe they didn’t), they could handle difficult situations (be the first president, eat with wooden teeth, liberate oppressed citizens), and did a good enough job to end up on the money we spend today. We are reminded daily, when we pay cash for something, of their accomplishments and our continued respect for them.

Of course, as adults we realize our presidents, while great in many ways, were fallible. It reminds us as parents that we too may be great in many ways to our children, but that’s not the whole story. As parents we make choices in how we conduct ourselves and are role models for our children – we’re not perfect (none of us are), we try our best (but we make mistakes), we all handle difficult situations (its part of life) and while we’ll likely never end up doing anything that will make us famous or end up on a coin or paper bill, we do have the opportunity to be trustworthy and respected by our friends, family and peers, but most importantly by our kids.

Think about what it would be like for your children to honor you every day as an adult, by the way they treat others, the way they conduct themselves; all as a result of the example you set.

A President may lead the country, but you lead something even more valuable–the raising of your child. And that’s the honest truth. Happy Presidents Day.