“Family Celebration Day”
This weekend is Fathers’ Day, which I’ve always felt was misnamed. It really should be “Family Celebration Day” in my mind. Let me explain more of what I mean, beyond the obvious of time spent together at a barbecue, on a golf course, on a boat, on a hike, at the shore — wherever families come together to enjoy each other’s company and summertime.
When I was younger, the only job that I knew I wanted was to be a dad. I had a great dad, a terrific mom and fun siblings, and I hoped for the chance to help build a strong family myself. Like any job, if you do it for the love of the work and, like any leadership role, including parenting, if you focus on what’s good for the people you lead — rather than worrying about selfish benefits — success is way more likely and it’s a lot more fun. So it’s no surprise that nothing makes a dad happier than fun family time. It’s not about the necktie or the new fishing reel, it’s about the tangible evidence that you didn’t screw things up and that your kids still like to hang with you and with each other, in spite of those inevitable stressful days along the way.
When our oldest graduated from college in ‘09, we knew the family dynamics would be changing. She wouldn’t live in our home again, even for a summer; in fact she hasn’t lived in Minnesota since. With our second daughter already away in college, too, our in-home attention turned to getting the boys over the adolescent touchdown line. Say what you want about teenage girl drama, raising teenage boys these days seems more difficult. I spent a lot of time worrying about what the new, sons-only dynamics would mean. Then, as we walked to a graduation dinner, the youngest started to put his arms around his sisters and pulled his older brother in too, down the street ahead of us. They all linked together in love and laughter. I gained confidence that we’d be all right, even the boys.
Last year, 9 years later, we took a lifetime family trip to the D-Day Beaches and other cool spots in France. Now with a son-in-law in the mix, the same thing happened on the way to another dinner. The two pictures are above. I got more sentimental the second time. Our work was (mostly) done and it was obviously true that the kids were going to be all right, even more than all right. What a relief, what a great feeling.
Happy Family Celebration Day! Three cheers for dads!!