Fathers, Daughters and Sons: Some Thoughts
With Father’s Day still fresh in my mind, and the unexpected death of Tim Russert, I all of a sudden find myself preoccupied with thoughts of my children. I watched Tim Russert on the Today Show at least a couple times a week for as long as I can remember. I didn’t like his style, I loved it. He was one of my favorite journalists and I was really affected by the sudden loss of this engaging personality. Tim Russert’s death spirited me into a state of consciousness that I haven’t yet shaken. If you recall a recent blog of mine where I spoke of mortality, while not interested in going down that road again, some other thoughts that surfaced for me are what I want to share today as well as hopefully get a reaction from you.
Father’s Day is one of those days that help you realize how fortunate you may be to have children. On this day your children may spoil you, somewhat foreshadowing a future when as parents we may be feeble and desiring love and our children may be our saviors in that regard. I am fortunate enough to have three children. From my perspective, all you need is three. Only having two would under cut my joy when they are at their best. More than three would exacerbate my angst when they are not as considerate as I would hope they might be. Russert and his life’s partner Maureen only had one child, their son Luke. I watched Luke talk with Matt Laurer this morning and the majesty of their conversation affected me in so many ways. It was really impressive seeing the fruit of his parents’ labor reflected through the eloquence of their son. I can only imagine and hope (and yes, expect) that my children would represent themselves, their family, and all others invested in them with such class.
Father’s Day, the Russert family’s loss, and the quality of the experience with my children on Father’s Day made me realize that somehow amidst all the focus on dad is an opportunity for Dads to appreciate not only the love and attention they receive, but the “type of” love they get from their children as well as what they give. Both of my daughters lean on me, kiss me often and unexpectedly, and remove my hat to rub my shaved (not bald) head. My son occasionally leans against me, and occasionally will grip my shaved (not bald) head, but doesn’t rub it, at least not lovingly for any length of time. Now, I have never told any of my children that they will endear themselves to dad if they rub his shaved (not bald) head. So why is it that my daughters rub my dome as if they are trying to ascertain their futures, whereas my son rubs my shaved (okay, you get the point by now) head as if to make the statement that he has that level of access to dad if he wants it.
More importantly, when we have conversations with our children on Father’s Day and take them into conversations about being quality people, I wonder how many other fathers take the time to really consider the role we have in shaping our children. My father shaped me greatly by the things he didn’t do, which may be why it is so difficult for me to imagine replicating his parenting style. Conversely, my mother wore both hats for me, which is why she deserves a shout out on both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. While it is obvious that we must provide for our children since they didn’t ask to be here, how often do those provisions transcend food and shelter? What are your stories about how dad (or mom in his absence) shaped, mentored, or challenged you?