Today's the day that we honor our fathers.
Our fathers - those guys who traded in their fun-loving, wild and wooly ways to become family men ;)
I've honestly thought about this a lot since my two oldest daughters have entered college.
I don't have sons, but I think of many of their friends as my own kids.
Those are the ones I watch slowly enter manhood and think about how my daddy was only a couple of years older than they are when he became my daddy.
Girls, I think, are a little different...in some ways we are supposed to be all nurturey and raise babies.
They're supposed to be the breadwinners, the head of the family, the one who takes care of everything.
Can you even imagine the pressure?
Especially if you're only 20?
My oldest daughter is 19, and I can only imagine her with a child...off somewhere trying to make it on her own. Nope. Can't even begin to imagine it.
My mom and dad did this.
I've mentioned before that I've never had to wonder if I'm loved.
My dad didn't mind that I wasn't a boy.
He didn't mind me hanging around whenever I could...in the woods looking at beaver carvings, washing out test tubes and beakers in the lab where he worked, traipsing through the wildlife refuge where we lived, scouting deer and other wildlife, landscaping jobs, the greenhouses to water the seedlings, and just being wherever he was...not necessarily doing anything special, just being.
My dad encouraged me to grow up and become my own person...not something girls were necessarily expected to do in the late 60's and throughout the 70's.
My dad always said that if I could be a strong individual, I would be a stronger partner someday.
But, I had to know who I was first.
My dad is a math and science guy...he couldn't understand why I couldn't understand algebra :/
But, he never questioned when my degree area of choice was education, liberal arts, and eventually English.
It was about a degree...get it. Didn't matter what it was in...just get it.
Always be able to stand on your own two feet...always know that no matter what, you'll have options.
Make sure you have options. You may not ever need them, but at least you'll have them.
There were times especially during the 8 year marathon dissertation process that honestly, if it hadn't been for my dad's profound belief that I could do it, I would have quit.
The time or two that I actually thought about it, I only thought about it for a second because there was no way I was making that phone call. All I had to do was imagine my dad being disappointed in me. Don't get me wrong; he would have accepted it and not put any negative pressure on me...that belief is inside of me though...I'm supposed to be able to do this...I've always been expected to do this. I've grown up with the knowledge that I would do this. So, I did it.
My dad is a professional who has re-invented himself several times...professor, administrator, consultant, community fund raiser, preacher. He's taught me not to be afraid of what's around the corner. Just because one stage of life ends, that doesn't mean it's over. Just move on to the next one. Look at the next step as an adventure. What do I get to do next??
I just really began to see these lessons last year when my oldest graduated from high school and moved into the dorm. Yes, I was a little sad...but I was also ok...and it is ok. And, my life goes on just as theirs does. I don't want them to be little anymore...and I don't wish for the past. This is the way life moves and I'm ok with that. So, let's just get on with it. My dad taught me that.
My dad also taught me to appreciate the world around me. Without being a fanatic in any way, my dad is a conservationist who respects life and the natural world. I will always have some kind of outside space in my life...my garden, my porch, my swing. I'm not afraid to walk in the woods, but I know I don't need to wear my flip flops :) I also know I don't need to go in very far because it is possible to get lost (really happened to us once...but I was never scared because I had every faith in the world that he'd get us out).
I will always be able to smell the seasons as they come and go. I can sit for hours and just look up into the trees watching the squirrels and thinking about how their lives are bound by those seasons and the natural order of things. I may not like survival of the fittest and nature's way of culling the weak, but I understand and respect it. My dad taught me that too.
My dad has taught me a lot of things, but what's truly amazing to me is that he's always been this person...even all the way back when he was just a kid himself. Take a look at these old photos and you'll see for yourself:
People say women marry the kind of guy their father was...my husband, the father of my children, makes me feel secure, truly loved, respected and proud. As much as I love him, I know though that I can stand on my own.
Yep, that's my dad.
I love you, Daddy :)