It’s been a while since I’ve penned a note about myself, but with today being Father’s Day, I figured today would be a good time. On my walk back to my car from a client call this morning, I had some time to think about what it means to be a father. I’m very fortunate to have this job in addition to the other roles I play in life. It’s one of the most rewarding, challenging, nerve wracking yet joyful jobs that I’ve ever had. This got me to thinking about its importance.
My sister and I were fortunate enough to have both our parents in our lives. My dad was a hard working guy who always made sure we had a roof over our head and my mom made sure we always had clothes on our back. Together they kept us in line, encouraged us, shuttled us to and from games and held us accountable for everything we did. During my high school years, it was this last point that made the world as I knew it pretty difficult.
My parents were old school. You know, the kind that made you come home when the street lights came on. The kind that wouldn’t let you go outside unless you showed them that your homework was done. The kind that didn’t give you an allowance, but taught you the importance of earning it. To say they were strict would probably be an accurate observation! But to say that they didn’t care would be an injustice.
During high school, all I wanted to do was escape to college. I remember applying to the University of Miami just for the sole purpose of getting as far away from Chicago as I possibly could. Too bad (and thankfully) it was way too expensive for me to attend despite being accepted. But in all honesty, I really didn’t want to be close to home because I wanted to be “free” of all the rules and regulations that I felt had stifled me.
Well, many years later and having started a family of my own, I now “truly” understand what my parents (specifically my father) were doing. They were doing their job! The role of a parent in the wild is to protect their young until they can fend for themselves. Their job isn’t to be liked all the time. Their job isn’t to tell you what you want to hear. Their job is to teach you what they know so that you don’t get yourself into trouble. And if you do find yourself in a spot of bother? Hopefully they’ve given you some tools so you can try and get yourself out of that jam.
I’d like to think that in the years following my return from college, my father and I have grown closer. I don’t necessarily see him as the guy who told me what to do, but more so as they guy who tried to advise me. I don’t see him as the man who tried to rule my life, but as the man who tried to guide me in the right direction. And now he gets another job – that of Papa or the guy whom my little one loves to hang out with when we go and visit their home in Michigan.
So today, I’d like to say “thank you” to the man who was always there in my life. The guy who always told me he loved me and that he thought I was the greatest guy in the world. To the man who taught me through his actions that life is hard, but you never quit no matter how high the chips are stacked against you. To the guy who taught me that all a man has is his word and his reputation. To the guy who always supported me, stood by my side and gave me a role model to try to emulate.
I’ve always tried to do what my dad said because in the end, I really looked up to him. For every time he said “you make me proud to have a son like you” I wish I could have responded “but I’m more proud to have a father like you.” Now as I try to raise my own child up into a responsible member of society, I can only hope that I do half as good a job as he did. Happy Father’s Day Dad!