So thanks so much to our guest, Mrs. Hellenbrand.
Top notch job, but I would expect nothing less. And to her comment, I begged her to write for me mostly due to the writer’s block. But now that she got the ball rolling I will keep it pick it up and keep the celebration going….
Despite her inability to you know, actually be a man, I think she’s got the gist of it. We are Fathers. We are the last to sit down. We handle the things that go bump in the night, whether they are real or imagined. And when it comes to our families, there is no doubt we love them.
But perhaps she gives us too much credit. I’ll never forget the first time my wife came tearing around the corner of the house, screaming that there was a snake in the backyard. “SNAKE!” She yelled in a terrified voice, “GO KILL IT!” YES! We must do this I thought to myself. I waited a beat or two for somebody to go back there and get it. Then I waited a little longer. Then I realized she was talking to me.
I think the lifecycle of a dad is a little messy for a lot of us dads, and luckily we have understanding families that allow for us to grow and learn. This year has held many opportunities for me to look back and reflect on life and fatherhood. I somewhat recently attended my high school reunion and approach “the big 40”, both events ripe for reflection.
Here is what I’ve discovered: We have covered some ground now. We stopped by “cute little boy” for a few years, went to “obnoxious teen” for awhile, and then to a slightly blurry phase I call “irresponsible personal exploration” that covered the late teens and early twenties. I seem to recall having a lot of fun and finding piles and piles of ATM withdrawal slips by my bedside most Saturday mornings, but the details escape me.
Now were deep into “adulthood”. Growing up watching my dad, I always perceived it to be horribly boring. Work, mow the yard, and then go to bed by 10pm. It didn’t seem like much through my eyes. What I didn’t realize is that there are a hundred little challenges and moments with your family that make it fun and exciting. My interests and what I do with myself have changed (let’s be clear: for the better).
For us seasoned dads, we have gotten pretty good at the basics. We make three trips to the car to haul in the family luggage while our crew excitedly explores the vacation housing. We stand when there are one seats too few. And yes, we go eradicate the unwanted pests from the area, whether it’s is a snake or some other unknown assailant. As encapsulated by the man standing: Dads are often the last to eat off the carcass in today’s world. We come to learn how to do all of these things and accept all of the glorious awards that come with it (read: few).
But these are small sacrifices. Now we are getting to the hard part. We are no longer needed to feed our kids, hold their hands to help them balance as they take their first steps, or change diapers. They are growing up before our eyes. As a father of three daughters ages 5-15, more and more I am hearing “I can do it”. This is a good thing, of course, so what is my role now? How can I help? I say it’s getting harder. How do we teach our kids to harness their talents? How do we give them the ability to take care of themselves? Can we expose them to the positives in life, helping them to have the skills and knowledge to make smart choices down the road? How can we show them the way to become happy productive adults? How do we coach/lead/teach them everything they need to, gulp, leave us behind one day?
We are Dads. We have embraced this. The women that captured our hearts so long ago have grown into families that we love so much. As Kristi wrote about, we do dad things that include trips to Home Depot and profusely sweating after exercise. As Father’s we must change as our families do. We do our best to tackle the obstacles that life throws in our way, and in the way of our families. Even in today’s world where so many traditional roles have been turned on their heads, this is our responsibility and we love it. Even if (when) our execution is a little off sometimes, it is still better to have a dad who cares. So take a day to celebrate dad and all the little quirks that make him who he is. Take him to the stadium or let him sit on the couch. Make him his favorite meal as a symbol of your appreciation. Celebrate the day and have fun with it. Heck, just taking a time and telling him he is appreciated is a gift in and of itself. So, I’m off to see help plan my Father’s Day menu. To any Dads reading this: Happy Father’s Day!
John is the proud father of three and author of Dude You’re Gonna Be a Dad. You can check out his fatherly advice (gripes) and ramblings at http://www.dudeyoureadad.blogspot.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @johnpfeifferdad .