We can all agree how important dads are. Neil sees far too often how kids are affected by dads that just step out of parenting.
In the time since we have become parents and started celebrating Mother's Day and Father's Day on a more personal level, I have heard Neil say how Mother's Day is the real holiday and Father's Day was added out of fairness.
My heart hurts a little when I hear him say this because I never know the correct thing to say. The words get lost because so many flood to the front.
It's just NOT true for our family and I'm sure many more out there.
So here are the best things that my dad has taught me. Things that have shaped me for the better and left little (33 year old) footprints walking about in the world.
My dad may not see this as much of a gift since others may call it strong-willed and stubborn. This lesson has morphed through age. In college it started getting more refined by seeing myself as capable and strong. The first time Neil met me he tried to buy me a drink. I told him, "I buy my own drinks." What a line that I've come to respect more and more. I've lost a little independence since getting married and having kids. Mainly because I have also learned another virtue which allows me to ask for help when necessary. And I've been better at assessing my time and knowing whether I should really spend an entire day putting together a piece of IKEA furniture. All the same, I know it's sitting inside, ready to come out when necessary.
As early as I can remember, my dad has been a reader. When I was little I couldn't wait to sit next to him with a book of my own. My mom was the one that read to me the most, but my dad was the one that modeled reading in my life. He loves books and taught me to love them as well. He has a thirst for information and never stops learning. My love for education and the written word came from my dad.
Not that I think about it much because I don't notice it, but my dad had Polio when he was little. This caused one of his legs to grow faster than the other one. It almost killed him. Which means it almost killed the idea of my sisters and me. It also made him have to work harder physically than his peers and pushed him into grad school at a time when it wasn't common to have a grad degree. He has truly risen from the bottom to the top, worked his way up on his own. Along the way he has shown the utmost respect and kindness toward anyone he meets. This business of ours wouldn't even been here if not for this lesson.
Now onto the father of my children. The one that I get to watch the closest and observe the impact of the most. The one that I knew would be my forever when I thought of my future and couldn't imagine anyone else to be by my side. This is what I hope my children learn from him.
1. To Listen
He truly listens. I'm not talking about the kind of listening that means he never misses anything I say. (I am known to talk the day away.) I mean he is the kind of person that really, truly listens. Being a counselor, he definitely learned how to do this as a professional, but he also cares. And that can't be taught. He doesn't try to push you through your story or interrupt you when you are in the middle of it. He hears you out, asks questions, and then gives you his thoughts.
2. Respect for women
We are equals. In our marriage, in parenthood, in our desire to be treated fairly. He will fight the fight for me, our daughter, and our mothers. It's his as much as it is mine. I want my sons to learn to stand up for inequality and be the educated voice in a debate. I want my daughter to see how her papa treats her and find someone that challenges her just as hard. Someone that believes she is amazing for her thoughts and compassion and any other qualities that we will see come out, not just her beauty. And if she comes across someone that tries to push her down, I want her to push back instead of just turning away becasue she has seen how her papa treats her mommy.
Whether it's a dream to be followed or an idea to be carried out, it is met with such an amount of time and energy that others wouldn't give. He doesn't get much time for himself. There's always a project he's working on, normally to help someone else. Support isn't just voiced, it's acted upon. It helps that he likes woodworking and building things. Once again, our business would have only been a dream without him.
Honestly, it was hard for me to pick my top 3 for each of these important guys. There are so many more qualities and aspects about them that make me smile and push me to be a better person. So much more that my husband gives to my children. But for now, I will stop this long post here.
Thanks to all the dads that have made an impact in their kids' lives. Thank you for not just "showing up" but for leaving imprints and memories and love for generations to tell stories about.