Sometimes he fears he’ll turn out like the father he never knew, then he remembers why that can never happen.
Father’s Day is coming up in just a few short days. I get excited about that! As the dad to two amazing, beautiful children, it is a very special day for me for obvious reasons. A day that I am even more thankful and grateful for what I have—family, love, laughter, hope, possibility, wonder and dreams. A day where I can spend all of my time with my kids and not even think of any work that needs to get done. It’s just not an option on Father’s day. My time is filled with love and play. My day is dedicated to daddy delight! I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It is also a time for reflection. Where I’m going. Where I’ve been. Today, I find myself thinking of my biological father. A man I never knew. A man who chose a motorcycle gang over his wife and two children. A man who made many poor choices and spent more than a decade and a half in prison. He did his time. But the concrete cell “Joe” called home for all of those wasted years was probably the smallest price he paid.
Though I never knew him, I am motivated by him. Like everyone else, I learn from my own mistakes and the mistakes of others. How not to do things. It is not that he was a bad person his whole life. There was good. My mother says he was one of the nicest men she ever knew. Until he wasn’t. At times, I’m scared to death that my bloodline and genetic composition might catch up to me one day. As funny as it sounds, the fear I hold inside that maybe someday, my inner “Joe” will come out and I’ll treat my family like he did, helps keep me balanced. When I have those fears, I realize they come from childhood. The little boy in me, who heard so many bad stories about his “dad” and saw things that no kid should see, ingrained deep inside that he might end up the same.
There isn’t a chance in a million that will happen. My mother remarried when I was six and my real dad raised me right. To me, there is nothing more “manly” than being head over heels in love with my kids. Than taking the care to tenderly show them the right way to live. Than treating my wife with the regard and respect she deserves. By leading from example, admitting when I make mistakes, and aspiring to be a better version of me. Every. Single. Day.
I’ve watched my friends take high paying jobs and travel the world. I’ve watched their titles changes to include words like Director and Vice President. Some have executive titles that start with a C. It is impressive to be honest. So are the cars they drive and homes they’ve purchased with their hard earned money. It’s been said that I was missing out on climbing the corporate ladder and losing tens of thousands of dollars or more of income every year because I passed on such jobs. That if I truly wanted to make it, I needed to suck it up and work late into the night and spend a lot of time on an airplane. Acclimate myself to different time zones. Routinely be apart from the ones I love the most. Otherwise, I’d never get ahead.
Let me tell you a little secret. I don’t care about the paycheck. I really don’t care about the corporate title. There is not a sum of money large enough that would make me trade watching my kids grow. That’s something that doesn’t happen twice. Their little hearts need daddy’s love. There is a better chance that I will win the lotto jackpot twice in the same week, then finding me falling into the frequent flyer lifestyle, living out of a suitcase, telling my kids I love them through some video camera mounted on top of a computer. Nope. To borrow a line from a great Gary Allan song “I’m right where I need to be”.
The most important title I have and ever will have, starts with a D. I’m a Dad. First. Forever. And the only ladder I am interested in climbing is the one that leads to the top of my kids’ favorite playground ride, “The big yellow yellow slide”.
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