“It is a wise father that knows his own child.” ~ William Shakespeare
Sunday will be my twenty-fifth Father’s Day.
Brandon was born in January, 1986. A few months later I celebrated my first Father’s Day. The father I was then is nothing like the dad I am now. But while time is gracious with its wisdom, I wouldn’t trade the mistakes for the knowledge I have today.
I hope my son agrees.
As a young father, I was terrified I would drop Brandon, or he would choke and I wouldn’t know what to do. His cries confused me: was he hungry, wet, tired; or all three? My son didn’t come with an instructional manual – but I was desperate to find one.
The past 25 years have passed in a blink. Little League baseball games, the first girlfriend, learning to drive and listening for him to come home at curfew happened faster than I expected. There are times when I want to go back to that first Father’s Day and play back every moment.
But one thing I’ve learned from being a father is to be thankful for the present moment and to appreciate exactly what I have. This lesson didn’t come from my own awareness; it came from Brandon. He taught me this.
This isn’t the only lesson my son has taught me.
By being his father I have learned how to show affection and how to set boundaries. I have learned how a father needs to be a role model and how to provide security, trust and accountability. Brandon taught me how to push and then how to back off again. He taught me to put his needs before my own. My oldest child encouraged me to break patterns I thought were normal. And even today, Brandon is teaching me to look at life in new ways.
But the most amazing lesson my son has taught me is I don’t have to be perfect to be a good dad.
Sometimes the simple path to being a good father is to allow your child to walk in front while you walk behind. From this vantage point you will see where your child is heading. You will see the obstacles more clearly and you will have a clearer view of what’s in their way. And if you keep your eyes open, you will learn more than you teach.
Now 25 years later I’ve finally found the instructional manual. It wasn’t waiting in a bookstore because it’s been inside my son’s heart the whole time. Each chapter contains the same words: Always nurture my passion, my love for life and my goodness. These things were passed from you to me. And on the days you don’t see these things in yourself, just watch me and I’ll remind you where they came from.
My eyes are open Brandon and I still see you as my beautiful child just like I did on my first Father’s Day 25 years ago.
What is A Simple Path?
This post is in A Simple Path, a series of short pieces inspired by my own life experiences. Each post is a simple path to experiencing something wonderful: maybe seeing life from a different perspective, or celebrating its beauty. Click here to read all posts in the series.