June 19, 2017
Yesterday was Father’s Day and I was reminded of something I wrote several years ago regarding this special day:
It would be easy enough, on this Father’s Day, to let the day come to me. Just sit back and let my kids visit, call, text, or e-mail me to wish me a “Happy Father’s Day!” Maybe they will even bring a gift, like the awesome lawnmower they all chipped in on a few years back.
But I wake up on this Father’s Day feeling blessed to be a father. I thank God for the gift of fatherhood, and I thank my four children (Mary, Rick, Laura, and Robby) for the gift they have been to me.
All four have had a hand in forming me into who I am today:
- They have given me a sense of duty and responsibility. From the time I first held Mary in my arms, my first father moment, I was changed forever. Never again would my life be about me. Everything I would do from that moment on would reflect on me as a father. Like it or not, I was a role model. Along with Carol, I was responsible for caring for them, guiding them, teaching them, and loving them – every day, around the clock.
- They have given me an understanding of what “unconditional love” really means. I had always been taught that God loves me unconditionally, and that there is nothing I could ever do to make God love me less. I’m not sure I ever understood that. But as soon as I became a father, I got it.
- They have given me a greater appreciation for my wife. Carol is never more beautiful to me than when she is being a mom to our kids – caring, sweet, sensitive, and understanding. The best parenting advice I ever heard was: “The greatest gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother.” My love for Carol has grown because of my love for my children.
- They have given me entertaining glimpses of myself. Several of my habits and personality quirks, both good and bad, have shown up in them. I smile with pride when I see the good ones duplicated, and cringe when I see the bad. The kids know these habits and quirks came from me, and are quick to give me credit or blame accordingly.
- They have given me the gift of laughter. Most of my favorite memories come from those times the family has just been sitting around the table playing board games or eating dinner. Then the stories start, especially ones from when the kids were growing up, and we end up laughing for hours.
- They have given me the gift of their own vulnerability. It has been my constant hope and prayer that my children would always be happy, healthy, and without struggles in their lives. Unfortunately, life does not work that way. When times are tough, or they have questions or concerns, I love that they will come to me. That my children will occasionally turn to their “Daddy” is comforting to me.
- Finally, I think the greatest gift my children have given me is that they love one another. There is no greater joy for me than to know my children, as adults, sincerely love one another. I can see it in the way they interact and the way they express concern for one another. I see it when they drop everything to be with one of their siblings who needs them. I see it when they hug one another. I see it when they are unafraid to say, “I love you” to one another.
Earlier I mentioned this advice: “The greatest gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother.” Isn’t it interesting that I am now acknowledging that the greatest gift my children have given me is that they love one another?
Mary, Rick, Laura, and Robby – I love you! No need for a gift this Father’s Day – the lawnmower still runs great and you have always been a gift to me!