|2006: Photo courtesy Bill Schalk|
Bootcamp for New Dads at the hospital over ten years, a program that's been discontinued, I'd often share those and other stories. Digital cameras and smart phones didn't exist those days and I shot a roll full of pictures when the first one was born only to find the film hadn't "caught" on the spindles. I was sure it did for the second son, but failed there as well. I'm sure that's not the only mistakes I've made as a father/husband. We had video for the third, and still have the tape (not digital) but it's not really something you'd show. I think you understand. As husbands our real role at birth is to help our wives while we stare in awe at what they and God have created.
- The United States, which has more people in prison than the next 35+ countries in the world combined, has a commonality among those in prison beyond being convicted for something they may or may not have done: They come from single family homes. Particularly in this economy but even before, raising children with only one parent, with no disrespect to single mothers who are amazing, is a recipe for crisis and failure. Be a MAN.
- If you married out of lust or some party, I'm sorry, because those motivations are temporary and superficial. The most important thing a father can do to ensure opportunities for his children, is support his wife, significant other or mother of his children. Period. Otherwise, you end up violating rule number one and create societal problems. There are always exceptions to every rule, but that's not the majority of human experience..
- If you wait until your children are old enough to play catch in the back yard (irregardless of gender) it's too late. Neurology tells us that brain cells grow dramatically between birth to two, 2-6 and then take a break until the frontal cortex develops, which last I read can happen between 11 and 25 over a two year period. Brain cells actually die after the age six for the rest of our lives outside of the frontal cortex (balancing checkbooks among other capacities). I'm not a neurologist, and what science told us when my first child was born is not even close to what we know now. And by way, we don't really know that much beyond the first statements. If you haven't conversed, held, comforted and developed a solid bond with your child until they can play ball of some nature, you're in for a very rough relationship later on.
- For the vast majority of us, nobody is naming a library, hospital or college wing after us. The only legacy we leave this world with is our children. They are more important than your golf game, the next raise, a promotion, or anything else that you might selfishly put over society. They are the future of both you, this planet we share, and the human race. Why you wouldn't put more energy into that over your bank account is beyond me and between you and God.
No amount of Hallmark cards in the mail can ever express the important roles they played. Nor do I expect that's what led them to be who they are, or who we are. Father's day to me, just like Memorial Day, Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day and a number of other "holidays' we celebrate is a 365 day a year lifetime of thankfulness.
Maybe you've attained the fullness of who you can become in this life. I know I haven't, but I do enjoy the journey and as Winston Churchill approximately said:
"I do love learning, but I don't often enjoy being taught."
Don't wait for any moment to pass, but awake new in the morning and step up to Do Something that makes a positive difference today. As fathers, it's the most important part of our day. The song below is from Level 42 called My Father's Shoes, with lyrics that echo my heart for my fathers both genetic and spiritual. If you haven't heard it, try the beloved Luther Vandross's Dance with My Father.
Or try Level 42 Children Say: