Happy Father’s Day (2020)
Some reflections on Father’s Day before another one is put to bed.
I am generally proud of my accomplishments. They are not plentiful or grand and usually came with lots of help but there have been a few times when I have done something I set out to do. And I’m proud of that.
I am prouder still of those times in my life when I have summoned the courage to be the man I aspire to be. I wish that occured with greater frequency, but there have been moments. I’m proud of those times.
I am proudest though of something for which I can barely take any credit at all. More than anything else, I am proud to be a father. I have not done it right or even particularly well. I can not claim the best traits of my sons, nor that I have any idea what they need from me on any given day. But I am proud not because of what I have done, but because of what I have become.
For me, being a father is not a collection of lessons I impart or rules I enforce. Thank God it is not about wisdom or being a good example of what is right. It is not food I have worked to provide or the bad humor I inflict on the family. For me being a father is a gift I received first from my wife and now daily from my sons. It is the challenge of bending myself to connect. It is the learning of true empathy. It is the mirror of parenting forcing me to examine who I truly am in this world. It is to participate in life through love and the connection of relationship that awakens my purpose.
What I do as a father is a mix of good intentions and clueless blundering about. But who I am as a father is a participant in something magical and divine. I am proudest of that. Not what I have done, but what fatherhood has allowed me to be.
When my sons were still young enough for a nightly bedtime ritual, part of mine was this exchange. I would say,
“I love you. Do you know why?” And they would answer,
“Because I am your son.”
“That’s right,” I would say. “But what if you do something bad or something that makes me mad or sad, will I love you even then?”
Knowing the drill, they would respond, “Yes.”
“And do you know why?”
“Because I will still be your son.”
“That’s right and I will always be your Dad and nothing can change that.”
And that is being a father. And that is who I am thanks to them. It is the best part of me, regardless of what I do.
Happy Father’s Day to all of you who know exactly what I am talking about.