This was the seventh father’s day for my youngest daughter. It means that all three of my children now have had a father in their lives longer than I had one in mine.
And I wonder to what benefit?
The absence of a father in my life inspired me to be ever present in my own children’s lives.
I thought this would mean that they would see me as the greatest Dad ever. Yet, regardless of what their sweet handwritten cards may say, I know that is not the case. Atticus Finch, I’m not.
Being always present means they see more of me — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
For previous generations, the father was a more fleeting presence in their children’s lives. Spending far more time out of the home than in it. His absence made his presence all the more special. When home, he was accorded respect, even reverence.
Today, it can sometimes feel like we’ve moved from an era of “Father Knows Best” to “Daddy Knows Nothing.”
Being around more means more opportunities to say “no”, to be wrong, to disappoint, to frustrate, to lose patience. Being in the room more naturally creates more room for error.
For moms, these comments could easily be met with “welcome to our world” and they would be right. Centuries of being taken for granted certainly trump our meager generational shift.
Much like my dreams of being the next left fielder for the Boston Red Sox have set sail, so too have the dreams of being the greatest father ever. It’s just a different ball game today.
That is not to say, I would ever want to go back to how it was. Much like there are more opportunities to fail, there are so many more to succeed. To be there at a time of need, to share a fleeting moment of silliness, to capture a milestone, to join in the many joys of childhood.
Instead, of being the greatest father, I am just trying to be a good dad each day, in each moment. Knowing that I will fail, but hoping I will succeed more times than not.
In that spirit, check out this wonderfully honest three minute StoryCorps interview between a father and his daughter. The end is something I think all us Dads can aspire to.