The Art of Fatherhood

“Hey guys, how were oceans made?”

When one of our daughter’s classic, epic questions swirled from the back seat of the car to the front, then danced around our heads, I could do little more than smile, take a deep breath, and hope with every ounce of my being that it would land squarely on the shoulders of my husband.

Being sleep-deprived from our puppy’s middle-of-the-night antics, I could barely muster up enough energy to go get coffee, let alone have a deep, philosophical conversation about the universe. I had the patience of a flea.

I sat there waiting, and silently willing my husband to come up with a brilliant answer, so I wouldn’t have to. When he finally began, “Well sweetie, that is one of life’s great questions…” then launched into an exquisite dissertation about philosophy, religion and scientific theory, my eyes brimmed with tears.

Those words spilling from his mouth reminded me once again why I love this man so much, and why he is the epitome of a rock star father and husband.

It also made me appreciate just how “present” Jeffrey is in our daughter’s life. I don’t remember ever having a deep, philosophical conversation with my dad—at least nothing more profound than, “Rocky road or vanilla?” In fact, my dad never did any of the things Jeffrey does with our daughter. He never helped me with my homework, read to me, organized play dates, or took me on bike rides. Nor did he cook meals, help plan birthday parties, do artwork with me, set up lemonade stands, or take me on special dates. And the thought of him being a room parent or a chaperone on a school field trip? That makes me laugh out loud. I don’t think he even knew my teachers’ names.

Photo of a father and daughter riding bikesPhoto of a father and daughter playing basketballFather and daughter doing potteryPhoto of a father and daughter at HalloweenFather room parent at schoolPhoto of a father and daughter doing homework

But here’s the thing: I have nothing but fond memories of my dad and my childhood. Even though he was far from perfect and far from uber involved, I felt loved and nurtured by him. I don’t know if that’s the magic of a father or if that’s how I choose to remember him. Whatever the case, on this Father’s Day, I send a big shout out to my dad, the first man in my life who made me feel strong, smart and special.

I celebrate not only who he was and how hard he worked, but the impact he made on my life. Not only did he always treat me like an equal to my three older brothers, but he instilled in me a work ethic that has stayed with me my whole life. Most importantly, he believed in me—no matter what crazy idea I chased after—like figuring out how to get myself through college, even though he knew he wouldn’t be around to help me pay for it.

Photo of father and daughter at the beachFather and daughter fishing

Photo of dad and kids at beachDad wasn’t a gushy guy. In fact, I’m not sure I ever heard him say, “I love you.” It didn’t matter though; I knew he did.

The last five words he uttered to me before he died summed up his style and our relationship best. He simply smiled through the pain and morphine and said, “You are a tough bird,” which translated to: “I love you, be strong, and carry on. I know you will be fine without me.”

I’ve leaned on those simple five words many times over the years, and because of them I’ve always known I could stand on my own two feet and take on life’s adventures without being afraid.

A father’s words can be profoundly powerful. I can only imagine the strength our daughter is soaking up from Jeffrey. She may not fully understand or appreciate all that her daddy-o does or says quite yet, but I have no doubt it’s all sinking into the right places, slowly building a foundation that will support her throughout her life.

So here’s to you, my rock star husband. Thank you for being the person you are and for making fatherhood a priority. Thank you for answering the tough questions when I haven’t had my coffee, and thank you for always making our daughter feel strong, smart and special.

I know the world is your canvas. The fact that you have chosen to create your most meaningful art right here at home means everything.

Happy Father’s Day.

26 thoughts on “The Art of Fatherhood

  1. Just lovely, Becky. :) What a nice Father’s Day gift for Jeffrey — this post you wrote for him! And I really enjoyed seeing the pictures of Jeffrey and Olivia together. They just seem to “fit.” Happy, comfortable and respectful. And you are right! He is a very involved dad. Though on the other end of things, it was nice to read about the different relationship you had with your own father. I can feel your love for him, too, coming through your words. This line, “it’s all sinking into the right places, slowly building a foundation that will support her throughout her life” is something I wish more parents would think about more often. As you know, with children everything you say and do gets “in there” and it sounds like your little girl is just filling up with love. Happy belated Father’s Day to Jeffrey!

    • Thank you, Melissa. I’m glad this post resonated with you. Jeffrey has been on endless adventures around the world, but parenting has been the greatest adventure of all–for both of us. I’m grateful he’s fully involved so he doesn’t miss out, and so Olivia always remembers the love and support of her daddy-o. I thoroughly enjoyed your Father’s Day post too. We are two lucky chiquitas.

  2. A wonderful tribute to two of the most important men in your life Becky. It’s a beautiful post. It’s a beautiful bond, that Jeffrey and your daughter share.; thank your for sharing these beautiful moments of your life with us. Lots of good wishes for all three of you.

  3. Like you, I’m blessed with a husband who has always been a terrific, involved father in our daughter’s life. My relationship with my father, long gone now, would never measure up to this. Maybe the true mark of being an ‘adult’ is accepting what was there, and what wasn’t, with equal parts grace and love. No one knows better than you the ways in which every picture tells a story .. . . these tell a delightful, warm, loving one.

    • Yes, I think we all must accept what was there and what was not with our parents. If we manage to do it with grace and love, that is the best gift we can give ourselves. I like to wrap up the bright moments and store them somewhere special and leave the rest behind, knowing my parents were human, just like me.

  4. What a wonderful tribute to your husband and your father. I also was the apple of my father’s eye, and even now, at the age 53, knowing how he felt about me gives me the strength and confidence to carry on. Beautifully written!

    • Thank you, Janet. Your words make me smile, especially knowing you still carry the confidence of your father’s love like I do. Thanks for swinging by to share your comment.

    • Many things contributed to our less involved dads when we were growing up–larger families (at least in my case) and a family structure in which most moms stayed home while dad went off to work. Few dads had the option of working at home, like they do now. And of course, far more women work now, so men are expected to step up and be involved on the home front. Not all do, but most fathers we know are very involved with their kids. It will be interesting to see how this generation of children looks back on its childhood.

  5. Quite a tribute to both J and your Papa! It must be very rewarding for J to know that his efforts are so appreciated by the co-artist who brought the ultimate work into fruition – dear Olivia!

    • Thanks, Rodger. I’m fortunate to have always been surrounded by wonderful people in my life–from my parents to my brothers to my friends, and of course, Jeffrey. I like to pay tribute to people who have (and still do) make a difference. I can’t even imagine parenthood without my charming sidekick.

  6. Hi Becky, Jeffrey is one heck of a dad and husband, and you are one heck of a wife and mother. Sweet Olivia is one lucky little girl!!!


  7. A beautiful description of your father’s relationship with you and your husband’s relationship with your daughter. A lovely post! You showed the best kind of fathers there can be–where the children are loved.

    • Thank you, Tina. My father was far from perfect, and in fact made a few major missteps along the way, but even so, I always knew I was the apple of his eye. That’s a feeling that has stayed with me my whole life, and one I hope our daughter carries with her too.

  8. How sweet that you are still so in love with Jeffrey, Becky! My dad was extraordinary as a father (and still is), but I too think my husband showed an amazing commitment to fatherhood when our first daughter was born. He continues to be exemplary even now (most recently — what dad would be suckered into baking a cake without having the slightest clue how to go about it??? So many examples, so little time…)

    Here’s to all the dads in our lives!

    • Yes, here’s to all the dads in our lives!

      I love the image of your husband baking a cake with your girls, not having a clue as to how to go about it. It’s all about the process! And how wonderful that you still have your dad with you, and your children have the gift of a special grandfather!

  9. Such a wonderful tribute to your practically perfect husband! And to your father, too. I think our dads were from a generation that prevented them from interacting with their children on a deeper level. They loved us the only way they knew how–with too few gestures or words of love. What makes me truly happy is that dads like Jeffrey (and my Rene) are breaking that cycle by being present physically and emotionally for their children. Beautifully written post, Becky, as always!

    • Okay, first things first…Jeffrey is anything but perfect (sorry honey). He would actually be the first to cringe at that notion. In fact, I was leery about posting this because he’s so private and he doesn’t want people to think he’s Super Dad. But you are right about how lucky we are having husbands who are fully engaged with our children. Our dads were definitely from a generation that placed low expectations on their parenting skills and high expectations on their ability to bring home the bacon. Fortunately, things have changed.

  10. Becky,

    Really enjoyed this father’s day post. You have a beautiful little family. And loved the photos from your childhood and family. So much is made of the “father-son” connection, not enough attention is given to the impact the”father-daughter” connection has on the women, girl’s become.

    • Thanks, Maurita. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I hadn’t ever thought about more attention being giving to the father-son relationship than the father-daughter relationship. I think they’re equally important, but when a father empowers his daughter, it can stay with her her whole life–and hopefully inspire her to make good choices down the road. Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment.

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