If I want to be remembered for one thing in my life, it would be that I was a great father. That my kids are proud of who I am. And that seems so simple, right? All you have to do is love your kids more than anything and you can check that box off…right?
I love my kids more than anything. I really do. But there are days when I don’t feel like doing another puzzle. Or reading them Pinkalicious for the 1000th time. Or taking them for a plasma car ride on the sidewalk while I hold their head, a request my son has made three times in the last two days. Something I have made excuses not to do.
Yes, I love my kids more than anything. But that is not enough.
It’s not just doing things with them. Although that is a large part of it. But as I watch my kids mimic everything I do, good and bad, I understand the simplicity of the goal of being a great father is accompanied by the complexity of meshing a near infinite amount of aspects into my life.
Being a great father involves being a great husband. A great son. A great brother. A great friend. A great person. It involves being honest. And sincere. And trustworthy. It involves being compassionate…to everyone. Feeding the hungry, even if people are just hungry for hugs, kindness, and love. And also feeding the hungry when they need food, and being charitable in as many ways as possible when I am able to give. It’s about being understanding. And as fair as you can be in a very unfair world. It’s about pursuing justice when others won’t.
It’s also leading by example with regards to your career. About going to work every day with a smile on your face. Taking pride in what you do. Showing them that work is nothing to be miserable about.
It’s about making the right choices in your life. And backing them up with effort. And living in that satisfaction that you can control your destiny. And at the same time showing them that you have to live with consequences, from the decisions that you make.
A great father will make a great person out of their kids. You have to live your life so that your kids have something to aspire to become. Someone who they can use as a benchmark to try to achieve themselves. So every morning they wake up…and see their hero.
And it’s obviously not all about us as fathers. It’s about being there for them. At all their recitals. And all their games. It’s about being there whenever they need you. It’s about being proud of their accomplishments, whether you understand or agree with them or not. About celebrating the smallest things in their life, like a piece of artwork that looks more like balled up trash than anything else. And of course celebrating their largest. Every graduation. Every birthday. Everything they do.
It’s about pushing them when they need to be pushed. And pulling back when they need to grow and experience on their own, while keeping them safe from as much real danger as possible.
It’s about giving your kids their due. A steady stream of support, emotional and also financial.
Being a great father isn’t always being a kid’s best friend. It’s not always doing what they want to do. It’s about being strong when they are weak. About being stern through tantrums and fits and them saying really mean things to you. My daughter told me the other day that she ‘hated me a little bit.’ As even though the reason was that I wouldn’t let her have another cookie, it still hurt a twinge. I know there will be many more times when she says it…and plenty of times when she really means it. It’s about being bigger than that. It’s about loving her more than anything through those times.
It’s about being there every day. There for as many of these times as possible.
Like anything great in this world, being a great father takes great effort. But is there a more important thing to give effort towards?
To give that much effort, you do need to love your kids more than anything in the world. It can be that simple…and that complicated.
It didn’t occur to me to write this until this morning. So I sit here on Father’s Day typing on this computer, while my kids are playing. But this is my day. The celebration of me and I can do whatever I want.
And what I want to do today is an infinite amount of puzzles with them, to read a library full of books to them or even just Pinkalicious that many times. I am going to post this, and then take my son for that plasma car ride on the sidewalk, while I hold his head.
Happy Father’s Day