Category Archives: Fathers

A Father’s Day Letter to Dad

My Dad, with Jessica (22 months), at Yosemite. 2006.

I was 18, on a one-month visit to my family in California. I would be heading back to India in a week or two. My dad was driving me to the DMV to get my ID card renewed. I don’t remember the details of our conversation, but it went something like this:

“You’ve been in India for nearly two years now,” my dad observed.

I didn’t really need him to do the math, but I knew he was getting at something. “Yep,” I answered.

“Your mom and I were missionaries for a while. Sometimes it takes a lot out of you. I want you to know that we are proud of your, whatever you choose to do. We do everything we can to support all our children.”

“I know,” I told him.

“If you ever want to pursue a different path, we will fully support you. You can stay with us for as long as you like.”

I nodded. “Thanks.” I didn’t say much more. I wasn’t very communicative in my teens, especially in matters of the heart or mind, matters I didn’t completely understand or hadn’t fully worked through on my own.

But my dad’s words stayed with me, because I was struggling at that time. I held the struggle inside, as I did with so many things. For my first few years in India, I felt very alone, even when surrounded by people. I struggled with my sense of purpose and the way it seemed to mingle freely with depression.

I returned to India a couple weeks later, but it meant a lot knowing that I had a home to return to if ever I chose.

***

I was 21, sitting in a chair, a friend across from me helping with a last-minute application of eye shadow. It was the big day. My wedding day. The phone rang and a friend ran it over to me. “It’s your dad.”

I don’t remember much about the exchange, only that he wished me well, told me that he loved me, and that things would turn out okay. I tried valiantly to hold back the tears. I was in India, 8,000 miles from my family. None of them had met the man I was about to marry. Most of them were very concerned about that fact. We were in a Catch-22 because my husband could not get a visa to visit the U.S. unless we were married, so I hoped my family would trust my judgment. But the distance and uncertainty wasn’t easy … for any of us.

In some ways, I felt like I was having to choose between marriage and a supportive family, and I hated that. At 21, it was a hard decision, especially not knowing whether my husband would be accepted into my family. I knew that they just didn’t know him; if they knew him, they would love him, like I did. All they knew was that they didn’t know him. And he was marrying their daughter. Or for my siblings, their little sister.

When my dad called, I felt for a moment that connection with home. I knew things would turn out okay.

And they did. That uncertainty I felt is a distant memory. Twelve years later, we as a family are very close … in location, and in heart and spirit. (And everyone in my family prefers my husband’s cooking. Including me.)

***

It’s Father’s Day, and I was thinking that if there was a single word that could describe my dad, it would be supportive. The support that he has given in countless ways, to me and my five siblings, has shown a lot of things about his character. His reliability and loyalty. His love and concern.

His trust in God.

Over the years, I’ve realized just how much my dad’s supportive nature has been grounded in a deep faith in God, that everything would work out alright. That God had things in His hands. The whole world, as the song goes, and his children as well.

My kids are not yet teens, but when those years come, I only pray that I will have a portion of the faith and trust that my dad has shown over the years. I pray that I can show them, through my words and deeds, my faith in God’s perfect plan, my trust in God’s purpose for their lives, and my love for them no matter what roads they take.

To my dad: Happy Father’s Day! Thank you for being the best example a father can be, by pointing the way to the Heavenly Father with your words, your actions, your life.

Prouder to be a Father

Proud to be a Father

A Good Investment

A Good Investment

A Joy Worth Toiling For

Christmas quotes

Not Fair!

Baby Sleeping on Mother's ChestThey talk about jobs having benefits. Pretty much every employment has benefits – insurance, paid vacations, bonuses, sick leave. Not to mention the prestige of some vacations, the interest others show in certain jobs, the admiration from others.

But “I’m a mom”? (Or “I’m a dad”)

Not much obvious admiration for that one.

And perks of the job?

You aren’t even allowed to honor yourself on the day you suffered the worst pain imaginable to bring that child into the world. Who gets the credit, the presents, the celebration, the cake and songs? Definitely not you.

But most of all, there is the unfair “balance of love” part.

How much do you love your child?

So much it hurts?

So much that you think about the little rascal every time you leave home?

So much that if he gets hurt, you wish it had been you instead?

So much that you can’t help but gaze at his little face when he’s sleeping, and kiss his head one last time before you head toward bed?

You know your little one loves you too and depends on you, but does he really love you that much? Is that feeling perfectly reciprocated? You look back to when you were a child.

Did you watch your parents when they were sleeping?

Did you miss them terribly every time you went out?

If your parent got an “owie” or was sad, did you wish it was you instead?

Probably not.

Parenting is unfair.

But don’t get me wrong. I never said it wasn’t worth it.

What boss would you love so much that you wish you could kiss away their hurt?

What co-worker would you be happy to gaze at while they sleep? Unless you run a family business and it’s your spouse, probably not.

What colleague do you miss when you are away?

You may not get a paid vacation. You actually don’t get paid at all, with money.

But the rewards are so much greater than any other job could ever be.

Unfair? Yes.

Worth it? Without a doubt!

Parenting is incomparable.

 

[Photo by © Jerry Tobias/Corbis]

A Time to Be Born

It happened a few years back, during a visit to my parents in California at the time I was living in India. My mom, a midwife, had a couple of assistants on call for the births she attended, but this time (though I can’t remember the details why) she asked me.

“Hey Pete, a lady just called. She’s in labor and sounds like things might move quickly. Want to be my assistant?”

(Yes, my mom calls me Pete, and yes, she is the only one allowed to call me that. And no, it wasn’t because she wanted a boy and I came out instead – just to clarify those points.)

I had read a number of labor and delivery books. My mom had given me classes on all that’s needed at a home birth. And I already had a couple kids of my own (without a doubt, for me, the greatest excuse to help a laboring woman – “I’ve done it too; you’re not alone. You can make it.).

Of course I jumped at the chance and within minutes, we were opening the front door of a home after a woman called, “Come in.”

We stepped in. A woman on her knees was leaning the top half of her body on the living room couch, her large tummy drooping below. The concentrating look on her face made it clear she was in the middle of a contraction. Mom gave me a few instructions as she knelt by the lady and waited quietly.

“Good, deep cleansing breath. You’re doing great,” Mom said, once the contraction had passed. “How you doing?”

“Fine.” The woman sat back for a moment. “Do you need me to get in any certain position? Do you need to check anything?”

“Just be comfortable. Stay in whatever position is best for you and that baby.”

“I think I’ll stay right here.” The woman suddenly closed her eyes and began to focus on her breathing as the next wave commenced.

As I pulled out a chart, a young man came down the hallway. “Finally got her to sleep.” He sat next to his wife and held her hand, speaking softly as she managed another contraction.

“Looks like she’s pretty close,” Mom told me. I started pulling out a few items that she asked for as she stayed by the woman, timing her contractions and not leaving her side. The woman remained in that position the entire time, including when she pushed the baby out, and into my mom’s waiting arms.

Mom rested the baby right on the new mother’s tummy and waited until the cord had stopped pulsing to tie and let the father cut it.

“It’s a boy!”

I couldn’t help but getting teary at the elation of the new father and mother. I concentrated on straightening a few things up.

Mom did the baby’s first check up. He got a good APGAR score. “And you deserve a medal,” she winked at the mom.

A few minutes later, a little girl came stumbling into the room. Once she noticed her new baby brother, she was wide awake, and stared at him the rest of the time we were there.

Overall, it was under two hours before we were driving home again, letting the family get to know their new bundle of joy.

“They don’t always turn out like this, do they mom?”

“Nope, hon, sometimes I’m with a laboring mom for 24 or more hours straight. Dad says I go down the rabbit hole, cuz he doesn’t hear from me for a while.”

I wondered if I’d have the stamina to do something like that. Somehow, I don’t think so.

“It’s amazing how smoothly you delivered that baby.” I thought back to my own births, lying on my back at the behest of the doctor, trying hard to push against gravity to get the baby out.

“The mamma delivered the baby. I was just there to catch it.” My mom smiled.

Over the years, my mom has clocked thousands of miles, driving from one town to another in a 150-mile radius as a home birth midwife.

Her vision is to open a birth clinic in the city, to give mothers a natural and healthy option for delivering their babies.

She and the midwives she works with are some of the most amazing and dedicated women I know. They give all they have for mothers, fathers and babies to have their ideal birthing experience. Every mother deserves to give birth in the way she is most comfortable. Will you help them in their vision?

[Search for A Time to Be Born in Mission: Small Business. They are awarding grants to up to 12 small businesses, and your choosing A Time to Be Born just might make it possible to help many women see their dreams come true. The deadline is June 30th, coming up fast, so please don’t wait!]

Happy (belated) Father’s Day

Father with SonFather’s Day was a few days ago. It was the first Father’s Day that my husband wasn’t around, having gone on a month-long trip with one of our kids.

My day started off needing to go out with the kids.

My three-year-old son, as usual, had other plans.

“It’s time to get ready,” I let him know

“No,” he replied without missing a beat.

After a few other similarly fruitless attempts at persuasion, I stopped.

Is it just me, I wondered, or is he more “testy” than usual?

Then I realized.

It wasn’t “just me”. And I knew why.

Daddy wasn’t around.

Usually, when a battle of wills came around, I would head to the background and let my husband step up to the plate.

Now I was the main batter. And my son liked playing hardball.

Yes, at three years old.

I knew I had no other options. I stepped up to the plate. (Don’t worry, I didn’t really have a bat.) I let my son know, clearly and calmly, how I felt about his behavior and what I expected from him.

It worked . . . that time. The day held a few more similar episodes – to be expected as a mother of a strong-willed boy in his limit-testing era.

That evening, I wrote my husband a letter, thanking him for being just what he is – a father.

I also let him know I can’t wait until he gets back.

I’m ready for a break in the dugout.

 

***

 

My dad was also out of town on Father’s day, on a business trip. I had agreed to look after the birds and rabbit while he was away.

They aren’t my dad’s animals, actually. They’re my brother’s. But my parents have been looking after them for a while.

I texted my dad on Father’s Day morning and he called me a few hours later.

He thanked me for the text. And the rest of the phone conversation consisted of him asking about the animals.

Did the rabbit get water? Does he seem too hot? Did you switch on the air conditioner to cool them down a bit? I bought plenty of greens before we left. They’re in the fridge.

It’s not that my dad is overly partial to a rabbit. But he does love his son and knows the animals mean a lot to my brother.

I know my dad loves all of us.

We might not be children anymore, but we’ll always be his kids.

 

***

 

Grandfather with GranddaughterSo Father’s Day passed without much of the usual events of the day. I didn’t have the chance to make breakfast in bed with the kids for their daddy, or take my own dad out for lunch.

But I did get a chance to think.

About two great dads. About what they mean to their kids . . .

And to me.

 

Thank you . . .

Happy Father’s Day! (Better late than never.)