What a week this has been. My second child to graduate, my first son to do so. All the thoughts, all the feels, all the emotions. American culture has no real “rights of passage” traditions, except maybe getting your driver’s license, or the passage from grade school to college but as a father, this is a poignant moment in my household. At least in my mind.
My daughter, who graduated first, is at a crossroads in life but it is one of those crossroads where the decision she makes will have lasting consequences, for better or for worse but all I can do as dad is be there when/if she comes to me. As I said previously, my oldest son just graduated (with honors, yeah I had to say it), and my youngest son just started his first job and next year will be his last year of high school. So much transition.
I work a job that in past years could be quite stressful but because of my personality, it never got to me. Those around me would often ask me how I remained so calm during times of high stress and I always replied, “I have children. They’ll be teens one day, so I’m saving all my stress for that time.” Funny thing is, I’m concerned, at times downright worried even. But stressed? Not so much.
Not so much, because my children have taught me so much about life as I’ve watched them grow. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve watched them make mistakes, I’ve had to grow and mature and seek wisdom so that I could be the best version of me possible, so that I could help them be the best versions of themselves possible. I still haven’t reached that goal, but along the way I’ve learned some things about parenting and being a strong father, a strong role model in their lives. I’ve had to question, “what does it really mean for my daughter and sons to have a man teach them what a man is?” For my sons, how to be one, and for my daughter, how to be love by one. In the process, I’ve become a better person, I believe.
It’s those life-changing moments which can bring about big course corrections, but those corrections are lived out in the everyday minutiae. Life-changing moments like the day I brought my daughter out of the delivery room to see all the grandparents, aunts and uncles who wouldn’t leave the delivery room hallway and were ticking off the hospital staff.
That moment when I showed my girl to my dad and he looked at her, then me and simply said, “that’s your daughter!” That simple phrase hit with the impact of Bruce Lee’s “One Inch Punch” and we both wept like babies.
Course corrections, the daily minutiae, like when my wife and I separated for a time, but we didn’t want our own issues to have a devastating impact on the children so even in the separation, I was at her house every single morning to help the children get ready and take them to school. That routine went on for 5 years without fail. Then we reconciled. I learned a lot about myself and my children during that time.
Looking at them when they were babies, never could I have imagined all the life’s lessons that would be taught by them. I never thought I’d be as much student as I was teacher. That’s why this Father’s Day, as I reflect on what it means to be a Father, I have to say “thanks” to my babies because what they’ve taught me hasn’t only benefited our home, but as friends around me are having children, the lessons learned are paid forward in the form of advice to new dads, or those going through a particular stage that I’ve already experienced. And that’s very important! It’s important that we dads are a powerful support system for each other, for “no man is an island unto himself.” That’s why I decided to join in this campaign with Pampers and other dad bloggers, because I think it’s a great thing that Pampers recognizes the importance of dads and the impact our children have in our lives with the #ThanksBaby campaign.
Again, support is important. I urge you, as we recognize Father’s Day, to reach out to other dads you know and be there for them too! If you know a dad who’s trying to do this fathering thing relatively alone, ask him out to a ballgame, or beer. Maybe a movie, or to grab some comic books or a BBQ get together. If your babies have taught you anything about being a good dad, a strong role model, pay that forward and help another dad do the same. We’re all stronger for it!
Disclosure: I’ve been compensated by Pampers to be a part of the Pamper’s #ThanksBaby campaign. Too often in the media, dads are portrayed as clueless boobs but Pampers has taken the time to create a campaign and video which supports strong, healthy images of fatherhood so I decided to get involved. I hope this post, though it is sponsored content, has encouraged your fathering!