What I love most about dads, besides their adorable jokes, is that they come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve known a lot of great fathers on my journey. Men who have been there for me when I needed them, and who have shown me love, kindness, and guidance. Men who are the pillars that people lean on, the steadfast arms that console a sorrow, the guru who sheds a judicious light. I’ve respected and revered these men, appreciating the weathered wisdom that comes from sailing the uneasy seas of life for a lengthy time.
I’ve also known men who are just really becoming men. Or navigating (and changing – hallelujer!) what it means to “be a man” in the world we live in. Friends that I used to wreak havoc with less than a decade ago – these guys are husbands and fathers! They’ve made the choice to shape the life of another human being, to hang up the towel of self-indulgence and seven a.m. hair o’ the dogs. And I’m stoked for them! I’m happy to see so many guys waving their freaky father flags!
In particular, I’m very proud of someone I call dad in my life – but usually because I’m saying it to his daughter as we joke about how dad always wants to watch The Road to El Dorado when it’s movie night. So naturally, I asked my boyfriend Michael to join the Cool Kids Club of answering some of my award-winning questions so I could share his experience for this very dad post. I also solicited fatherly quotes and advice from some stand-up peeps in my circle, and will wrap it all up with those knowledge nuggets.
I already know that Michael is an articulate, expressive, well-rounded man who looks good in glasses. Those are qualities about him that I treasure. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his responses, and normally, I would essentially weave my whimsical words into what was already written (say that three times fast) or repeat to you the questions that I posed to the recipient like a good ol’ fashioned 1950’s interview; but honestly, I think I’m just going to share with you exactly what he sent back to me because it’s solid. Just like him.
Without further ado, I give you a glimpse into Michael’s experience as being a father to his daughter Leighlyn, who just recently turned six...
“Being a parent has changed me in ways I would have otherwise never believed. I see my little girl and I see truth. I see honesty. I see vulnerability. To even begin the understanding of the significance in which my role is going to play on the influence of the future of our world is unfathomable. But I will do my best.
The world is a scary place: who to believe, who not to; when to lead, when to follow; who to love, who to leave. My view on the world has changed tremendously, in fact. I see opportunity. Change has come and change is here to stay. Women are empowered. More so now, than ever! And what a beautiful thing! To have a daughter that is reaping the benefits of those women who willfully and diligently paved the way for such opportunities. The world we will together take, head on.
Some of our favorite things to do together include shooting pool, exploring, and body slams.
One of my first lessons as a parent was to stand my ground. It’s imperative for my child to understand that, for the betterment of herself, she listens to what I have to say. If she has an objection or a relevant suggestion, my ears remain open. But if the verdict is concluded as a no, it will remain a no.
My father and I are both kind-hearted people. One similarity that he hasn’t lost and one I never will is: the ability to be a child when need be. Children need nurturing. It’s required. Whether the child is mine or not, I will never decline the opportunity to have my way in a game of tag, or play dress-up with barbies, or hold a conversation; no matter how off-guard I am caught.
My father has always told me, “Mikey - don’t sweat it.” It’s advice that’s always resonated with me. No matter how hard I thought the situation was (lost toy, girl problems, finals), it’s came and passed. Just as he said it would. Even as an adult I find myself returning to that very same quote as we all sometimes need the faint reminder: “...don’t sweat it.”
Taking into consideration the trend for which society is going now, my hope for future generations is pretty simple actually: I hope they live long, successful, and prosperous lives, in an equal opportunity world.
A strength I have as a parent is the ability of understanding. As much as I like to be right, I like even more to be corrected when I am wrong and shown the correct way to succeed. As adults we cannot restrict ourselves from learning. Not only from our peers but from our children, too. It’s a relationship, let’s not forget.
My whole family influenced my parenting style. My grandparents, my aunts, my uncles, my brothers, my sisters, my dad. Every single one. They humble me. They have through my life. They still do now. 18-year-olds think they know everything. 25-year-olds think they know how the world works. New parents think they know what’s best. In a lot of cases I was wrong. Metaphorically, they were my backboard.
A moment I will never forget that I shared with my daughter....She was two. I promised her the night before we would walk down to Starbucks, as my car was getting worked on in the shop. She loves Starbucks. Morning came and she wore her favorite princess Elsa dress, grabbed her new baby toy I got her from Target, and was ready to go. We opened the front door and it was pouring down rain. We went to the covered front porch and I promised her that, as soon as the rain stopped, we’d be able to go. She sat on the chair next to me stroking her baby’s head, reassuring her that after the rain stops daddy said we can still go. There was something about that moment. She was telling her baby not to worry because her daddy was going to fulfill a promise he made. My daughter trusts me. She believes me. She knows she can depend on me. And I will never forget that.
My legacy is extremely important. I want to be the father other fathers want to be. I want to be the father that children want. I want to be the grandfather grandchildren wish they knew. I want to be the friend people need. I want to be the man my partner doesn’t want to lose.”
I’ve had the pleasure of being by Michael’s side as he does daddy things for almost two years now, and I can definitely say he takes his job seriously – but also knows when to have fun with it. He’s not afraid to rock a pink cape or barrette, and he relishes in the time spent with his daughter. He is austere but gentle with his teachings, and she is enthusiastically eager to learn from her most beloved person.
Leighlyn is as much of a fearless adventurer at heart as Michael and I. As a traveling trio, we make sure to interact with the world around us as much as possible. Saturdays are aptly named “Adventure Days”, as we wander far and wide to explore all the nooks and crannies in our area. Honestly, it was difficult to narrow down photos for this post since I have so many favorites from a plethora of fond memories.
I admire many things about Michael, but up there on the list is the way he keeps in touch with his family. I have never met someone who is so diligent about being involved in the lives of their loved ones, and this is something important that he is instilling in Leighlyn, as well. She absolutely loves talking to her family on FaceTime – while putting my tech skills to shame – as she unravels the amazing tales of a spirited six-year-old and her doting daddy.
Fun Fact: I’m probably the only person in the world who doesn’t use FaceTime, or any other face calling thing for that matter. Yes, I’m part dinosaur. Also, I didn’t know about half the toys that are out there until Leighlyn came along. Poop emojis for daaaays.
Leighlyn is confident and curious, just like her father, and together they really are a force of nature. I believe Michael when he says they will take on the world together, and I’m grateful to be a part of the uprising. I’m also grateful for the other fathers out there who are doin’ the damn thang, empowering the kiddos who will one day rule the world. Thank you, Michael, for sharing a piece of your heart with our avid readers. And thank you even more for sharing the other pieces of it with Leighlyn and I.
As promised, here is some fatherly advice that was provided by people I know and love – enjoy!
“Learn how to frame a wall and anyone will hire you.” – Lydia C.
“It is difficult to make something fool proof because fools can be very clever.” – Frank D.
“When you’re running on ice, use high knees and short strides.” – Sean M.
“Tell your kids you love them every day.” – Amanda M.
“When I was about eight, I took a line drive to the eye in a backyard baseball game. Sobbing, I ran to the driveway where my dad was working on the car. His response was, ‘If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t play the game.’ From that day on, I adopted the attitude that life is tough, so wear a helmet. 50 years later, I can say that was the worst thing any young man can be told. There will be pain in any endeavor. If you live to avoid pain, however, you will also miss the dance. So, be prepared to look back at missed chances, opportunities, and fun if you choose not to play the game.” – Robin P.
“If you’re gonna be stupid, you gotta be tough.” – Cory T.
“Do you understand?” – Michael H.
“Keep your pants buttoned and you’ll stay out of trouble.” – Anonymous
“Anything that can be done, could surely be done by you. It’s not our destination, but our navigation that makes us who we are. It’s better to create your own path and follow it truly.” – Hunter J. (he also provided a photo of himself with his two beautiful kiddos, Wesley and Kamryn, shown below)
Happy Father's Day!