First of all, since it’s Father’s Day, I thought I’d take the opportunity to plug one of my favorite blogs, which happens
to be written by a dad, and which I think will be turning into a book at some point in the near future: 1001 Rules for my Unborn Son. Though I will say that I think most of the rules are equally appropriate for girls as well. Which brings me to MY dad.
My dad has 3 girls. Sometimes when a guy will mention that he has three daughters, other men will express sympathy that this poor man did not get to have a son. And while my dad has, at times, loved to crack jokes about being surrounded by women, noting that even all of our pets have been girls, he truly loves it. I know this, because my parents adopted their third daughter only a couple of years ago, so I’ve had the benefit of watching him with her, and seeing him as a dad with his daughter through the lenses of my adult eyes, filtered by my 24 years of experience as his daughter. He loves being our daddy. Every giggle or squeal that he can get out of us warms his heart. He truly lives to make us smile.
Now perhaps it’s because my dad’s mostly a cerebral guy, not into male jock stuff, but we weren’t particularly raised with ideas of “boy stuff” and “girl stuff” or the idea that my dad would have any more fun with us if we had been boys. He took us on car trips to dig up crystals and gave us long lectures on rock types and geological formations, and the way mountains are made. It would not at all be unusual for him to pull the car over to look at the strata of a particularly interesting sedimentary rock formation. He forced us to dig in the garden and pull weeds and harvest tomatoes, chores I often hated, but appreciate now that I’m an adult, trying to grow some of my own food. He created elaborate treasure hunts for us to follow, riddled clue by clue, until we got to the big treasure at the end. He also created elaborate Halloween parties, with dry ice in cauldrons and his entire bug collection on display on a kitchen table, and all sorts of other delights that scared me so bad I wouldn’t go in our basement for several years without trepidation, but which were the talk of our friends well into high school.
I could go on and on, but the gist of it is, my dad didn’t care if we were sporty and he didn’t care if we were pretty, but he was determined to make us smart. At the same time, he always reminded us to be humble and kind. I remember being told again and again that any time I got the idea that I was a “big fish” a bigger fish was sure to come along and give me a run for my money, and I should keep that in mind.
When I look around me, I often see women who clearly are still looking for something they never got from their own father: love and acceptance. I am so thankful to my dad that he was involved in my life and saved me years of heartache. Because of him, I knew I wasn’t interested in taking any crap from any man who didn’t treat me at least as well as my daddy did. I knew I wanted someone who loved me for my mind and my heart, and not my body, because my heart and my mind are where my dad taught me that our worth comes from. And because of my mom and dad’s easy, homebody type of life, I knew I wanted someone who could be my best friend, with whom any argument could be settled with a game of chinese checkers, whose hand I will always want to hold. And that’s what I found.
On my wedding day, my dad looked at me just before we began our walk down the aisle and said, “You know, this would be impossible for me if you hadn’t picked such a good one.” At the time, all I could do was smile and cry, but today I can say, it would have been impossible for me to “pick such a good one” if my dad hadn’t BEEN such a good one. He is one of the major reasons I’m a confident woman who enjoys learning something new every day. And though I joke with Jon now that he’s chosen ER that he’s turning into my dad, the truth is, some of the best qualities I love about Jon are also qualities I love about my dad, most importantly their generosity of spirit and enthusiasm for life.
One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes, which I wrote in my dad’s Father’s Day card, is this:
When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.
I feel like, as a 24 year old woman, I’m just starting to see my dad’s fingerprints all over me, how he shaped me into who I am today, what a huge impact he had on me as a parent. I’m thankful every day for the things he taught me, and I can’t wait to call him later and tell him so.