June 8, 2008
another 365 days have briskfully cycled through the calendar;
another busied year filled with meetings, appointments, obligations,
tasks and commitments. And even beyond all those penciled markings
on the calendared squares or electronic notes on the daily PDA,
lie the 525,600 robust moments that define us as a person. Here
in these subtle moments as a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin,
niece, nephew, wife, husband, mother, father, colleague, friend
and significant other lie the very life blood, the richness,
of our journey.
Nature which exists solely within a seamless process, we humans
are so prone to divide and categorize our life by entire lists
of pre-s and post-s of accomplishments, careers, journeys and
yes, even relationships...
"Oh, you mean after I left my position at Smith-Weismiller-Leyer..."
thinking of the other person I dated; that was prior to Emily..."
now that you are no longer doing ____, with what are you occupying
even with our most determined effort to "section and quarter,"
our journey continues as a somewhat seamless process of becoming
that person that is looking at us in the mirror.
subtle moments as a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, niece,
nephew, wife, husband, mother, father, colleague, mentor, friend
and significant other are so important and vital, that there
are even annual/national reminders: Grandparents Day, Mother's
Day, Father's Day, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, etc.
that calendar or PDA sitting on your desk, you most likely will
not find these annual/national celebrations for:
Coming to Work and Staying Late Every Day This Year
Your Family and Watching More Television Than Anyone You Know
Up and Worrying About the Potential Promotion Day
- Focusing on Obtaining More and More Stuff Day
may seem humorous to read this short list, but it smacks of the
paradox we live in, my friend. That which we often chase is not
that which is life-sustaining and life-enrichening. And often times,
that which we take for granted is the rarest treasure and antidote
we could ever discover.
my case, I am blessed to celebrate just such an upcoming annual
reminder (Father's Day) and not just on one Sunday in June, but
every wonderful and grace-filled day of my life. For me, it has
been and remains life-sustaining and enrichening. At the risk of
sounding as if I'm dissecting my life into categories, I will state
that this September will mark my fifth completed year as a stay-at-home
father (or residential education specialist, as I jokingly
refer to my journey). And I am often told by family and friends,
"You probably don't realize it because you're around them all
day, but your little ones are growing up and changing alot..."
Yet I am painfully aware of the "one foot out the door"
process that my children practice and hone almost every day. They
are journeying from preschool to college, in the blink of an eye...
and I'm gloriously witnessing it every moment of every day. It is
one of those often overlooked and forgotten responsibilities and
privileges of a father. As Harry H. Harrison Jr. so eloquently states,
a dad means taking the training wheels off. In fact, that pretty
much defines fatherhood."
I happened across an easily dismissed treasure entitled, 1001
Things It Means To Be A Dad (Some Assembly Required) by
Harry H. Harrison Jr. It's such a simple, yet profound 300-page
paperback that if I were constructing a college course on Becoming/Being
a Father, I would make this required reading.
me to share with you just a few of my favorite of Harrison's
1001 gemmed insights. If you are a father (biological, step
or foster) to another human life, please relish these few insights.
And if you have/had a father, I hope these insights will help
you to better appreciate their specific journey beyond this
annual celebration of Father's Day. And for those of you who
are or have/had a mother, these insights are easily interchangeable.
a dad means talking to your kids. The number of words your kids
know has a direct impact upon their IQ.
a dad means taking your children hiking. Even if it's just through
the woods across the street.
a dad means encouraging individual creativity. Not squelching
it because you don't understand it.
a dad means having the power to define your children's future
by what you tell them now. If you tell them they are smart, they
will believe you.
a dad means doing everything humanly possible to never disappoint
your children. And forgetting that disappointment is inevitable.
a dad means telling your wife what a great mom she is. Often.
a dad means standing on the sidelines and knowing it's as far
as you can go. This pretty much explains fatherhood.
a dad means praying for guidance. Daily.
a dad means wondering if you're the problem.
a dad means telling them they are the kids you always wanted.
a dad means giving your kids enough rope to rebel without letting
them hang themselves.
a dad means teaching your children that God is always behind the
a dad means laughing at yourself in front of your children. They'll
learn they can laugh at their mistakes too.
a dad means trying to keep the fear of something bad happening
to your child just beyond your state of consciousness. That fear
never really goes away. But it can be managed.
a dad means telling your child to get up when they fall.
a dad means teaching your values and morals now. Because by their
teenage years, they are practicing whatever they've learned from
whomever they've learned it.
a dad means showing your children how to find their way home (physically
a dad means having more confidence in your child than they have
a dad means teaching your child to face their fears. They'll watch
how you face yours.
a dad menas raising your children to live without you.
a dad means learning the fine art of letting go.
a dad means being amazed at what your child has become. And telling
a dad means reassuring them that 90 percent of the things they're
most scared about will never happen. And God will give them the
power to deal with the rest.
a dad means encouraging your children to live for a noble cause.
a dad means telling your children there are second chances. And
a dad means teaching that seeing isn't believing. But believing
a dad means telling your kids they will be responsible for any
new life they bring into the world.
a dad means reminding them of their gifts.
a dad means extending grace for the past.
a dad means you will every now and then pick your children up,
dust them off, and send them back into the game.
a dad means encouraging your children to live fearlessly.
a dad means understanding God has big plans for you. He chose
you to be the father of His child.
Note: In his grand little book, Harrison concludes the 1001
Things with a section entitled "Parting Words."
Within that section, he lists the final 32 "Being a dad..."s.
Of those 32, one stood out that made me ponder for quite some
990: Being a dad means not expecting any thank-yous.
further, in one portion of his book, Harrison even identifies
15 "Being a dad..."s for stay-at-home fathers. Here
are a few that entertain and humor me (and are very close to
a stay-at-home dad means kissing your wife good-bye and then doing
a stay-at-home dad means throwing dirty diapers on top of your
a stay-at-home dad means being asked what you do all day.
a stay-at-home dad means realizing a good part of the locker room
can't identify with you.
a stay-at-home dad means taking your child to a play-group and
having soccer moms regard you as either a pervert or a hero.
a stay-at-home dad means wondering how you will explain this gap
on your resume.
a stay-at-home dad means being able to truthfully say, "The
most important things to me are my kids."
Number 990 isn't exactly true, after all. Perhaps thank-yous should
be expected... most especially, from me.
see, I owe a great debt of gratitude to my wife Di and my children
Leo, Emily, Hannah and Nicholas. They have been and are such a gift
to me. And although they have a long way to go, they have taken
this rough and raw father/husband slate of granite and
have been doing their very best to sculpt it into something recognizable.
Thank you for your patience, your persistence and your lessons.
well, thanks must go to my mother and father who were instrumental
in setting me on the course that I journey today. As a parent now,
I realize and truly appreciate the sacrifice you've made over the
years. And although it may seem as if I've been pretty independent
over the years, I want you to know that I haven't forgotten the
lesson you taught me so many years ago: Being
a parent means showing your children how to find their way home.