Friday, June 17, 2011

What Being a Dad Means to Me

Being a dad is the single best thing I have ever done in my life. I look back on the days my two sons were born as the happiest and proudest moments of my life. With my wedding day and my college graduation as close seconds.

James Caan once said in an Esquire interview that he knew his dad had made some mistakes with him; and that he had made some mistakes with his own kids; but that one day if every generation learned from the previous one's mistakes one day there would be a perfect Caan.

That is maybe the best single quick answer to the idea of what being a dad - or a parent, period- really is. To me it is the absolute essence of the idea.

It hasn't always been the easiest or least stressful part of my life, but it is the single best thing I do as a part of my day. Watching my sons grow and helping to teach them things as they do is the most amazing thing ever. It gives me such an amazing feeling to watch either one of them learn a new skill. It is also fun to sort of compare the way they learn things. I know Tommy has a whole different set of challenges than Matty but they both have their own little flair to doing new things.

Matty always seems to be seeking validation when he picks up a new skill he seems like he is showing it off to us and looking at us like, isn't this cool mom and dad.Tommy seeks less validation, merely doing something new and letting mom and dad realize he has done it. Then the two of us cry over another victory, however big or small.

Watching my boys grow up I can't wait for the days when I can take them hunting and fishing with me. At Mass awhile back they were honoring the Cub and Boy Scouts from the church's troop and I was hit with just how badly I couldn't wait for my own boys to be big enough for Scouts and how much fun we could have.

Being a dad for me is also a reflection on my own father. He was a great example for me to learn from and try to live up to. Sometimes Traci gets mad over me not knowing how to do some "manly" chore and asks why I don't know how to do it. Things like that certainly are within my dad's skill set usually, but not mine. But that fault is all mine. I didn't take an interest in finding out how to do those things.

With all of that in mind, I guess I have to say my dad is obviously a big part of who I am and how I got that way. Because of my dad I learned a lot of things:

Things like:

  • If you throw your pinewood derby car together at the last-minute so the paint is still drying as you race it, you are guaranteed to win. As opposed to the car you worked on for months the next year which didn't even win its qualifying heat. 
  • Guns are to always be treated with respect and as the potentially deadly instruments they are. Briefly forgetting that lesson led to my gun privileges being temporarily, embarrassingly revoked once.
  • I also learned that dry heaving over the mere idea of gutting your deer is a good way to sucker your son into getting his hands dirty. 
  • My dad was also the one who taught all of us how to drive, which was probably a good thing I'm not sure my mom had the patience to do that. 
  • I also learned that Tom Clancy is in fact a decent writer, it took awhile but I finally managed to get through one of his books and then I was hooked.
I guess what I am trying to say in all of this is that being a dad has been the greatest blessing of my life. I remember walking from the hotel to the hospital with my dad after Tommy was born and talking about being a dad and what it all meant.

Happy Father's Day everyone.

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