A day late and a father short


Eat bread and salt and speak the truth.

–Russian Proverb

I know so many folks who grew up without a dad. Passed away from cancer or went to the store and never came back. Some kids limit their contact by choice. So what’s left? In some cases, it’s a mother playing the heavy and the nurturer. And today, with all the hullaballo around Lean In, roles are altered, women are often the primary breadwinner, men are doing more domestic tasks.

So what if you grew up without a father, or he was so-so, or he was a bad dad? Now you might be a father, where do you learn how to be a dad? Books? TV? How about the careful art of human observation? I’ve watched dads through the years too.  Dan, who stood by his daughter through every life transition. With every relocation, he was there lifting boxes, driving the moving truck. And his ears were always open. Or Miguel, father of four, navigating his artistic dreams while always keeping the kids out front, their education, their manners, their intellect, their sense of community. The last time we talked in person, he told me that the youngest is the only one who will hold his hand. How he misses that closeness as his kids tween and teen. Finding new connections as sons and daughters get older can be confusing.

I watch and admire my husband as he pulls lessons from his experience. He quietly watches the uncles, fathers of friends and even co-workers throughout his life. I’ve observed the communications among his friends. It’s subtle, not the direct talk of women, but they find those moments to share what works and what’s hard. They also share the joy of seeing those beings, those parts of them, grow before their eyes.

To all those men who choose fatherhood, who choose to be a dad, I say thank you. Thank you for teaching and learning. We need you.


Do not fill above this line


There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence, and that is activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of this innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone and everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

–Thomas Merton, Confessions of Guilty Bystander

I read this quote at a time when I was filled above the line and my reaction was, “Oy!” Does any of this sound familiar? This was at a time, when two days in a row, I lost my glasses in my condo.  It’s a very small condo.  One time, my husband found them on top of a loft wall, about one foot from the ceiling. This was after I had put in contact lenses with a 6 year-old prescription which allowed me to see long distance, but I was unable to read without getting dizzy.  Do you know what I did?  I laughed. I laughed at, and with, myself.  If I want to get metaphysical about it, I showed myself compassion.

Do you show yourself compassion? How do you react to big or small mistakes that you make yourself?

I realized yesterday, that I qualify for the mother of the year award because in my quest to purge and give away the shoes that do not fit my son, I kept a set of shoes for him—one shoe was a size 12 and the other shoe was a size 12 ½. He has been wearing these for a week.  Luckily, I gave them to a friend and we can make an exchange this weekend, so my child only has to wear these for two weeks. (By the way, he hasn’t even noticed this.)

What else besides showing yourself compassion?

Change your routine and put down the phone.

I recently started changing my commute home to get some quiet reflective time.  Sometimes, I choose to connect with friends over the phone. (I know, that doesn’t count as quiet reflective time.) The other day, I told myself, no.  Connect with yourself, Rebecca.  And that’s when I stumbled upon this dumpster.  And I was mightily entertained because there I was identifying with an overfilled dumpster.  Then that Merton quote I had read, popped into my head.

So make some peace with yourself.  Show compassion, change your routine, put down the phone…that means texting too. Just be. See if you can find one hour this week, broken up into 10 or 15 minutes increments.  It’s a challenge I put to you.  That means over seven whole days which is 168 hours, you plan to allocate one hour to self-care.  Leaving you 167 hours for the rest of it.  Please let me know how it goes!  Post a comment or write me directly at rebeccainspiresnow@gmail.com.