This weekend, many Americans will be celebrating Father’s Day. I certainly am not trying to diminish the value of such a day, but I have to be honest. Personally, it’s just another day for me. I am a confident person, and outspoken too. Some people mistake that confidence for braggadocio, when I’m really a very modest man. In that light, I am not one who likes to be the subject of open celebration. I would much rather pass my birthday without recognition, and the same goes for Father’s Day. I’m a father. It’s what I do. I don’t desire a celebration for doing something that I: a) chose to become and b) enjoy so much.
My wife and I have five children, one of whom passed away in 2006 at the tender age of 16. While I was not his biological father, I love him very much, and I know that he loved me too. The never-ending pain of his loss often seems too much to bear, especially when I look into the eyes of my wife and our 8 year old daughter. Still, all of the wonderful stories that we hear, even today, about the kindness that he brought to everyone he met, lets us know that we did something right as parents. It’s that reality that drives me every day to be the best father that I can be.
We are of modest means, and my wife told me yesterday that she was not able to get a gift for me. I told her that it was OK. I really just wanted to build a swing set for my girls, so that I could watch them play on Father’s Day. That would be perfect. So, we agreed that even though we are likely to need gas soon, I could buy the hardware to piece together a bunch of salvaged wood that I have been accumulating.
Today, I built that swing set for my two young daughters. My hands are blistered, and my lawn needs to be mowed. But seeing the smiles on their faces, and listening to them squeal with delight as they swung brings more joy to my soul than any celebration in my honor. Tonight we watched Real Steel. Neither of them wanted to watch it, but I forced it on them. They loved it. As we reclined on our couch and enjoyed this father/child story, my older daughter laughing and shouting that she wanted a robot, while my little one lay in the crook of my arm grinning, I knew that today was another good day. Every day that I have my children, and my granddaughter to look upon and smile at me, is Father’s Day.
On Sunday, if you’re a dad, take a break and play with your kids, even if it’s only for a few minutes. While you play, soak in those smiles and laughter. Think about the impact that you are making and the wonderful people that you are developing. You never know when you may never see your child again. Cherish them. Kiss them. Tell them you love them and watch their eyes sparkle. That’ll be the only gift you’ll ever need. I guarantee it.