This weekend is Father’s day. Last year I presented a blog post about the top 10 things a father and daughter could do together. This year I thought I’d offer some insights, my observations on what effect being a father has on a fella and in my opinion, the most important thing Fathers can do for their children.
First off let me give away a secret, dispel a myth, breakdown the facade that us men put forth (sorry guys). You may see us as macho men, big strong guys that can build anything or tear anything down, the creators of life’s inventions, the leaders of men, captains of industry, masters of our domains and the heads of the household (ok I was pushing it on that last one…). In truth we are at our very best , pushed to achieve, most vulnerable and most satisfied when we are known as “Dad”. Now I know some of you may scoff at this notion, believe that I exaggerate but alas I have real proof.
In my career I have the opportunity to work with many men (yes ladies you’re out there and we luv ya but this is an article about guys, sorry) of all stripes, different careers, different responsibilities. This allows me to observe my fellow man and how they react or contemplate their life once they have become a Father. Of course many of you know that when our children are born the women are strong, tough, pillars of steel. They go through hours of pain for birth and then immediately become organized and diligent in the care of a new child. We (men) of course run around like nervous nelly’s ( don’t take my word for it, see the Dick van Dyke show, Season 1, Episode 15: Where Did I Come From? Original Air Date—3 January 1962,Rob recalls the hilarious events leading up to Ritchie’s birth). Once the miracle of birth happens we are turned into large mounds of goo that can voice only the words…gaagaa, goo-goo and dada, and don’t forget running at the sight and smell of any “presents” the new baby offers in their diapers. But you all know that.
What you may not know is how that heaping pile mush, that was once a stalwart, brave, stand tall man will change and alter his thinking or perception of life. As we grow older and see time pass by, we relish in the fact that our offspring, that incredible piece of our DNA or that special little child we have adopted, is growing and becoming a real thinking, learning, special person. Even more important is that “moment in time” when they understand and verbalize their connection to us (remember “dada”). This is a truly incredible moment indeed! What is even more important, more touching and one of the wonders of human evolution is when they, our babies, who owe us nothing more that “thanks for the genes” , grow into children and are willing to announce to the world that we are their DAD!
I mentioned that I had proof. I had a friend and colleague recently return from a trip to Hawaii. Hawaii, an incredibly beautiful place full of wonders of nature, beaches and bikinis…(you get the hint) . What do you think was the first thing he told me about his trip…how cool it was to watch his little guy play on the beach, in the sand and the surf. I have another colleague who’s in charge of a major association that wields incredible influence and what do we discuss…how much he’s looking forward to taking his kids sailing and “hanging out with them”. A grown man wanting to hang out with children! Another friend and associate talks about how proud he is to work with his daughter on the public events they promote (their business).
I have had the pleasure of connecting with a couple of senior politicians. Once again these are powerful men that at a glance can take away your parking spot and double your tax rate, but every time I speak to one of the gents he always mentions how his children have made him laugh, how they are learning things about life far easier than he did. The other fellow continues to post anecdotes and stories of his young child on his Facebook page. Oh yes he talks about local issues and important political stuff, but he always manages to get in several posts about his child. See where I’m going with this… I have worked for a long time for another great man, highly respected in our city, our industry and by his staff. With all his accomplishments and accolades his “self-reported” claim to fame is being the father of young lady that took over his company and is gaining success beyond the boundaries of all expectations, building on and growing the family business and gaining recognition well beyond the confines of our city and province. How much more proud could a father be! In a more touching and special moment that I’ll never forget, a dear friend of mine who passed away not too long ago (he was only in his mid forties) showed me the true and deep feeling that fatherhood brings. During my last visit with him, before he was gone, all he could talk about was his daughters. How proud he was of them. He recounted many of the moments where they had made him especially happy and joyous even more importantly how they made him feel when they thanked him for being their dad. I still tear up thinking of that conversation.
For my own personal “father” experience I have two favourite times in my life, spending time with my daughter and spending time with my Father. My Father, who taught me so much, introduced me to some of my favourite things in life. Gave me some great advice for my future (even if I didn’t believe him at the time) and is still one of the best friends I have. This year, even though he’s in his 70’s, we took off together on a snowshoeing and winter camping trip to Banff. This is an activity that he introduced me to and we use to do together for many, many years. It was really, really cold (-35 and we were tenting!) but we had an awesome time together and created even more special memories. Thanks by the way to the team at the Accent Inn Kamloops for the “warmer” night we had on that trip!
My job, my career, means that I work long hours sometimes and travel. This limits the time I have to spend with my daughter. Although that may sound bad, the time her and I have together is very, very special. When I travel she makes sure to put a special “stuffy” (stuffed animal) in my luggage to keep me company and to help me think of her (I certainly don’t need help thinking of her. LOL). I’m sure the hotel housekeepers wonder why a lone businessman has a stuffed animal on his bed side stand! I have been lucky in that I’ve attended pretty well all of Anne-Marie’s special days. School concerts, performances and swimming lessons to name a few. I make sure to schedule those into my calendar so no matter who wants a meeting that day/night, they’re outta luck cause I have a more important date! There is nothing cooler than seeing your child smile and wave to you from the stage. Yes you…her Dad and she acknowledge that in front of everyone! Recently she asked me to help her with a school science project and together we booth learned a thing or two. Early in the spring she wondered if we could build a new birdhouse as our old one had fallen apart and birds no longer would stay there. WE built one together, she painted it and not long after we put it up in the tree a new family had made it their home. In a few days we’ll be heading off for our annual father daughter camping trip (we joke that it’s also a mother’s day present). This is something both of us really look forward to. Our bonding time.
So, the theme of my story is this. Fathers don’t fear if you aren’t there all the time for your children but take the time for those special moments. As someone once told me “you can’t schedule quality time but the time you spend together can be that quality.”
Children. The fact that you are happy to see us. Laugh, smile and giggle when we play with you. Put up with our grumpy moods and the fact we are often the “bad guy” when it comes to dishing out discipline means so much. Watching you learn, grow and then teach us a thing or two is one of the most incredible joys of life. The fact that you are in our lives has changed us for the better and I for one wouldn’t trade your love for anything in this universe. Thank you for making Father’s day a reality.
Dedicated to my little princess and to my dear friend Ken.