It's kind of an interesting "holiday" for me - it's been 34 years since I have had a father, and if he were still alive (he'd be nearly 88 years old), I doubt we would be on speaking terms. The experience of growing up with him (and my equally dysfunctional mother) are why I knew by my teens I would never have kids.
All of this combines to make Father's Day a bit of a mystery. I don't know the feeling of actually being grateful for a father's love and guidance; nor do I have the experience of being a father and feeling that affection from my kids.
So I observe, vicariously and share those things that seem insightful.
Tue, Jun 23, 2009
Yesterday was father’s day—a holiday I used to resist. I thought it a bit unnecessary. “Why dedicate one day to showing our father’s we care when we can do it 365 days a year?,” I reasoned.
Well, now that I am a father my view on this has made a 180. I still remember my first father’s day (now 10, geeze) 5 years ago, surprised I was by how great it felt to belong to the category of fathers. It was also special because my dad, BP, was alive and we both got to share the day.
Yesterday may well have been my best father’s day since.
Sure, it’s great to get gifts and just be recognized but what struck me is how much better I am with self-care, with putting myself near the top of the list on this one day. In my experience this is a place where most father’s struggle—finding time for me.
To all those father’s out there: I hope that you too enjoyed a day where you were the featured attraction. And perhaps were able to anchor the feeling and recognize that while the family will always be first in mind and heart—taking care of self enables us to be more and give more to our children and spouses.
Riding my bike through the stunning Colorado mountains yesterday I was contemplating the best things about being a dad. What follows are the highlights.
If you’re a dad, you need only skim these as I am sure you’ll connect with them instantly. At the end there’s a space for your story. I’d love to hear your favorite thing about being a dad. Whether it’s already on my list or not, share yours and I’ll make it worth your time, promise.
The 10 Best Things About Being A Dad
1. You finally know how your dad feels about you.
Regardless of the circumstances of your childhood, the moment you go from being “a guy” to being a father you “get it.” That is the feeling of what it is to love something more than life itself. I recall how my view of my father transformed in an instant. For I knew, no matter what he ever did or said, he too had felt “this” for me, my brother and sister. It’s not an optional feeling.
2. You know what it means to love something more than yourself.
Let’s face it, for all guys call sacrifice and profess to “give it up for,” not until we have a child do we really truly get what it is to hold something or someone else more important than self. And I believe this is a vital, transformational experience in life.
3. Whatever your age, kids make you young again.
If you’re a father you get this—if you’re not there yet, trust me on this. It’s so true. Your kids energy doesn’t wait on you. You get moving whether you want to or not. And they keep you playing more and seeing the world through the eyes of innocence that we’ve all worn once.
4. Being a dad makes you a better man.
I think we all like having the opportunity to be a mentor—to help someone learn and grow. It’s inherent in our DNA. And being a father is the ultimate mentoring opportunity—you get to truly shape a life(s). When it becomes obvious that it’s not just what you want them to pick up that they learn, you start thinking about choices you’d not given a second thought to before. Things like where you go, how you get there, who you hang around, etc. It all matters but what matters most is the man you are.
5. It’s a license to be silly and play
Once out of college it seems like the world gets pretty darn serious real quick. Having children brings play back into your life. Whether it’s wrestling around, dancing, making faces, telling jokes or playing tag—you’ve got a license to be your silliest. It’s hard not to go to a playground and play—just as I imagine it’s hard to go to a playground and play if you don’t have kids. It can look bad–so if you must at least stay off the monkey bars if you’re over 30.
6. It awakens you to your global responsibility.
Being a father makes you instantly more accountable and responsible to the world around us. Even if you’re one who’s been outspoken about your concern for the environment, politics or social issues of the day—with children suddenly you become more aware of everything that will impact the next generation and the next.
7. Someone is truly intrigued by your life wisdom stories.
Face it, guys like to tell stories from our formative years. As a father you finally have someone who is truly interested in all those stories that have bored others to tears for years. Enjoy the sharing and be a careful edit so as not to plant any unnecessary seeds—which I can tell you my dad did! They may take many years to materialize but trust me, really “good” stories can percolate for a long time.
8. You actually want someone to best you—to show you up!
While we all pull for friends and people we like, a child of your own is different story. It’s not just hoping they do well you truly want them to exceed any and every best you’ve ever enjoyed. It’s free from even the slightest jealousy of competitiveness and this is a refreshing, empowering feeling.
9. Being a father softens your heart and opens you to life.
No matter how focused you’ve been on getting ahead on your career and success—or how hardened your resolve from your own life circumstances, being a father will melt your heart. I won’t even try to explain it beyond that. At this point you either get it our you don’t. It’s that simple.
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Until Next Week…
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