A day late and a father short

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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.

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