5 Truths I Know About Me as a Father


fathers day
From Elise!

What do you do when it’s Father’s Day, a light year from payday, and 99 degrees outside?

You sit inside and watch movies. I nabbed a handful of movies on Netflix (including both Brian’s Songs), sprung for two 2-liter bottles of Walmart’s answer to Coke Zero, and banished any expectation of restraint against constant snack grazing for 24 hours.

Halfway through Robocop (circa 2014, with half the violence and also Abbie Cornish) I considered this trip called fatherhood. Fresh off a visit to my dad’s grave sit by the mimosa tree and a treasure trove of gifts and handmade cards from my girls.

What about you, dad?

Not a report card. What are your truths? What do you know about yourself? I’ve thought a lot about this from an Aristotle point of view. I’ve a post in the works on The Elements of a Happy Dad for a revered blog, so I’ll try not to eat from that buffet too much today.

What about five truths of me, as a dad? Here we go, with a nod to Alanis Morrissette for the inspiration to be contradictory:

1. I’m somber, yet comic.

fathers day2
From Marie!

As a Generation X dad, I’m dated as a flip phone, but not extinct like a pachycephalosaurus. A man of 43 raising kids of 17, 14 and 10 should remain amped big time about fatherhood, but never use terms like chillax or YOLO. Me as dad must tone it down like Walmart George fashion.

The child of the 80s and young man of the 90s, he’s still in there, though. Once in a while, he’ll say something funny enough he can follow by dropping the mic.

2. I’m spent, but I’m spirited.

Who falls asleep during Robocop? (It’s not you, Abbie, it’s me.) My girls long ago surpassed my athletic prowess (each by age 4). I’ve still got the scrap, though. I’m powered by Coke Zero (or cheap substitutes), not Red Bull. I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once, as I ever was.

A guy needs that, for six soccer match Saturdays, midnight runs to FedEx Express to print your papers, and to stay up late enough to write posts about you, girls.

3. I’m poor, but I’m rich.

We had more food when we had food stamps, dad, Marie says.

How gas tanks and lunch boxes get filled remains a mystery until it isn’t. Nothing stays on E long. Least of all hearts. When I’ve lacked skill, I’ve leaned on ingenuity. What I missed in talent I’ve filled in with gumption.

And I’ve discovered a little-known, rarely accessed savings account within me that I’ve drawn on when I’ve needed it most, and it has nothing to do with pay grade and everything to do with pluck.

4. I’m absentminded, but I’m centered.

fathers day3
From Grace!

I have these visions and game plans to help my girls beat the odds and leap from my shoulders to heights unimagined. My guest posts are mapped out all summer and I won’t surpass the speed limit, but I couldn’t find my car registration if I got pulled over tomorrow.

In the recesses of my right brain and tucked away in the E and the N and the F and even the P, I know what kind of dad I’ve been, what I am today, and I’ll need for the next 17 years.

I know that my ability to navigate in the left brain and in I and the S and the T and the J will happen in the spaces I need it most.

And there go the labels.

5. I’m past my prime, but just getting started.

dad and me
My dad and me.

I’ve lost a step, need bifocals and have underachieved in life. I’m so far from done. I know the strength in my shoulders and back and heart has helped lift those girls I love so much.

My arms have been strong enough to carry them and my legs strong enough to keep up with them. My heart remains sensitive and my skin has become thick. My girls don’t see me as the strongest man in the world anymore.

They see me as the best dad I can be, though. And that’s better than brute strength.

I’ve fallen short, fallen off and fallen victim.

I’ve risen above, found my feet and faced the music.

It’s a perfect imperfection. It’s worked well enough for 17 years of being dad, and you know what? With some changes in the game plan and two or three adjustments, It’ll be good for the next 71 years.

That’s the truth.

fathers quote

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56 thoughts on “5 Truths I Know About Me as a Father”

  1. This was so cool of a post for so many reasons, Eli. We are all dichotomies in our lives. You have demonstrated a lot of great characteristics and are a wonderful father. You are one who talks to your children and coaches which means you participate actively in their lives.
    Oh, by the way, I mentioned Umberto Eco also, who is a really difficult Italian author and so did Judy Berman. His quote sbout a father is making the rounds!
    I had to smile at your “old timers” movies. Both Brian’s Song films and Robocop :):)

    1. Thanks Robin! I still cringe at being called a wonderful father, but I am proud of my relationship with my daughters and who they’re becoming as young women.

      I saw the Eco quote on another blog too, and when I found it in my search, I knew it would be perfect for today.

      For any day, really.

      My rules were strict today: Nothing with Disney or Nickelodeon kids! I picked movies made before any of them were born, just to be safe.

  2. I’m loving the cards from the girls.
    Good for you to reflect on the kind of parent you are. We are oftentimes so hard on ourselves. Either that, or like me, our heads are spinning from doing the actual parenting that we don’t take the time to contemplate our parenting.

    1. Aren’t the cards cool? We do spend a lot of time questioning ourselves as parents, more so than I think the Boomers did before us.

      And you’re right, the everyday takes enough energy. It’s important to acknowledge the good we do and our imperfections, and also to understand a kid isn’t looking for perfection in a parent. Just the feeling that we care.

      We can do that, right?

  3. what a perfect father’s day and a happy belated special day for you, one of the great models of fatherhood. you know what matters and what doesn’t, in life, and what a gift to pass on to your girls.

  4. Another ISTJ here, interesting how that plays out in every little thing, even if I want to pretend it doesn’t matter.

    Hope you had a great day, love the cards! 🙂

    1. It makes you wonder how much it is a label and how much it is the fabric of our being! I had an awesome father’s day, Sheena – thanks! (And the cards were perfect, weren’t they?)

  5. Loving this post, Eli. Especially this:

    “Nothing stays on E long. Least of all hearts.” (I let out a deep sigh when reading that bit aloud.)

    Blessings to all of you.
    And Happy Belated Father’s Day.

    Under the same sky,
    Dani

  6. Happy Father’s day, Eli. I’d fall asleep during RoboCop, too. Kids wear ya out, but they are worth it. Way to hang in there. 🙂

    1. Thanks Kim. There was just too much idle chit chat between explosions. Kids are most certainly worth it – they’re like pets that don’t (usually) soil the rug, and they even have our DNA.

  7. —-Eli,
    loved your post! ROBO COP? NOOOOOOO…. haven’t you watched Orange is the New Black?!!! absolutely FAB!
    Btw, my husband, Mr. Liverpool, is a soccer coach for St. Scholastica College.
    He loved soccer more than me 😦
    Happy Late Father’s Day. x

    1. Thanks Kim! Yes, Robocop, but the original was way too gory for the kids. And I love ISTNB – Pipes rocks.

      My girls love soccer more than I, and they can actually play it at levels I can only dream about.

      Thanks for the Father’s Day wishes, too.

    1. Glad you liked it Nikki! Awesome is from my era, so I’ll say it (I say ‘sweet’ a lot too, but no complaints yet.)

      The day was awesome (yes!) because of those girls. They made the day necessary!

  8. I feel the same way about gas tanks and lunch boxes – two of each. How do they get filled? Especially because Des has the appetite of a velociraptor. I didn’t even Google that spelling, so if it’s wrong… it’s because I also need bifocals.

    1. To keep them filled is like that old-school game, Tapper. Remember that? I think your spelling is close enough and maybe even better than science’s.

      When you get bifocals, get the ones that blend into your lenses like mine so you won’t look like a Mexican Ben Franklin.

      Not that you’d look like a Mexican Ben Franklin …

  9. I think you summed up fatherhood wonderfully. But I am all about the cards, they show that the girls GET you, their dad. That they love you and that they seem to have gotten all the best parts. Which is probably why you need the Coke Zero to regain your energy.

    1. Thanks Kerri. I agree about the cards, and that means the world to me, that my kids get me. Also, comparisons to Darth Vader make your average dad look like a super hero!

      It’s not easy to keep up with them, but so long as the caffeine and carbs roll in, I’m up for the task.

  10. Father’s was over before I knew it. Ended up seeing ‘Inside Out’ with my daughter and wife – the movie was not what I expected or the hype… I had a good time hanging with my kids. It sounds like you had a great day with your kids, too. Like the post, we all have upsides and downsides that balance is out. Have a great week and enjoy your summer.

    1. It did move fast, brother. What’d you think of the movie? “Space Warriors” was the girls’ least favorite movie of the day, and they’re still quoting lines from “Hot Rod.” (Not sure if that’s a good thing.)

      It’s all a balancing act, though. Have a great summer, brother.

  11. Eli, you have always been a great dad to your girls! I cannot believe they are now 17-14-10…
    They are growing into wonderful young ‘ladies’. Keep up the good work, daddy-o!

    1. Junko – how awesome to see you here! I can’t believe it either … they’re looking at college/starting high school/almost done with elementary school. I think fatherhood is largely verdictless, so I’m trying to hold on and do my best.

      Thanks so much for the comment. I hope you are doing well!

  12. Love the cards your girls made for you!
    I’m glad you – kind of – got to spend Father’s Day with your Dad! He sure appreciated the visit!

    I thought you got those letters scrambled (weren’t they supposed to say ESPN?) until I read in the comments that they are your Jung typology results.

    1. The cards were perfect, Tamara. It was bittersweet to visit my dad’s grave that day, and I’m not sure I’ll write about the experience of that day. It was powerful.

      Did you know i can’t stand ESPN? Kind of like a chocolate lover’s aversion to the color brown, but it’s true.

      1. I didn’t know that about you. It makes sense, though. You never mention ESPN.
        If you don’t blog about the graveyard visit, at least write it down for yourself!

  13. Thanks for sharing. Very heartfelt and touching! Glad you had a great Father’s Day!

  14. Beautifully written, Eli! It’s hard to look inward sometimes and reflect on things we once thought we could have done better and realizing that you just did the best you could do and that, in itself, is enough. Keep up the great work as a dad and as a person.

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