On Father’s Day
My impending fatherhood (35 days or roughly 835 hours) has made me think about what it means to be a father (and a mother – but Mother’s Day was last month). Being far away I want to first wish my Dad and Grandpa Happy Father’s Day. I could not have asked for greater role models in my life. What it means to be a man and what it means to be a father I’ve learned through great examples. Love and patience, joy and laughter, a stern hand when needed, more hugs and encouragement than I could count. My Dad taught me baseball and my Grandpa took me golfing. They taught me how to be a good person, and how to care about others. How to talk to people and how to carry myself in the world. I learned how to work hard and how to relax. I learned that family is important and life’s greatest joy. I learned that it is not selfish to invest in your career and be good at it and spend time doing it, but that must be tempered with a health balance of family and perspective. Both my Dad and Grandpa took the time to show me what they did for a career, even when I was too young to know or too cool to care (but I really did).
My Dad was there to coach and encourage me in sports and in education, instilling in me the virtue of both, but never letting either be an end in themselves. Sports and education were important in that they were fun and provided a framework that would help me grow into the strong, confident man I am. When I was in 8th grade and really getting good at both baseball and football my Dad was proud and full of fatherly/coaching advice. At the end of that year, when playing sports were summarily stripped from life (at least contact sports or anything with the potential for head injury AKA baseball to the noggin) he wasn’t disappointed, he encouraged me in other endeavors, picking me up from theater practice and showing up for opening night of the play to cheer loudly for my meager performances (my roles ranged from one-armed man to the world’s largest singing orphan). That isn’t to say I never got yelled at or sat down for a frank discussion of my behavior, but even in these instances I never once felt that it was done from anything but love and concern. It is weird to recollect back to all of the times in your childhood, adolescence and teenage years where you were mad about punishments or lectures, only to rediscover in your adulthood that those were the shaping moments. Those moments that made me better, stronger, more thoughtful, more loving, even if I didn’t see it at the time.
For a while after Sara became pregnant I was thinking “how can I be a father, and more importantly how can I be a good father”. What a bit of introspection made me realize is that I’d been training my whole life for this job, I just didn’t know. I was afforded the greatest fatherhood internship I could have asked for. Not everyone is blessed with a great dad and a terrific grandpa, but I was. I don’t need to look far to find example of what a father should do. I know I’ll forge my own path with my daughter, but I am so happy and grateful for the guideposts set out before me. Thank you dad and grandpa. Thank you for being the men you are and making me the man that I am and the father that I will be. Happy Father’s Day.
Just a quick caveat as I go on, the same things could very easily be said about my Mom and Grandma, who were just as important in my life. The only reason here I’m not including them in these thoughts is that it is father’s day and I’m reflecting on how I’m going to become a father like my father, and like my grandfather.