Simple Question 1: Why is Father’s Day meaningful to you?
Like many, it is not about receiving recognition for fathering a child or the quality of the gifts.
On a broad scale, I pride myself on unintentionally being a good role model by simply doing what I think is best on a day to day basis with Kendall and when honoring Camden during an event.
I pride myself on being considered a good father by my daughter Kendall, my family, friends, peers (and sometimes complete strangers) that have witnessed my relationship with Kendall or my love for Camden and Kendall and the choices and actions I make to show them how much I love them.
On a small personal scale, it is the happy tears that trickle not only on Father’s Day for the yellow bracelet with giraffe print Kendall gave me at the age of 5, because “Daddy you wear a yellow bracelet (Livestrong) and I love giraffes, so I thought you could have a bracelet that makes you think of me and Camden.” (I still wear the bracelet today, the giraffe spots wore off years ago, but the meaning did not.)
Happy tears trickling for unwrapping a tee shirt on my birthday of Mario Brothers characters walking across Abbey Road like the Beatles album because she knows the significance of the Beatles and “Let It Be” (a song we had on repeat the last moments of Camden’s life reminding him and us that he had fought hard and if it was his time we wanted him to know it was ok to rest and leave us peacefully.)
It is not only the physical gifts that bring me to tears as a father.
It’s watching Kendall’s face light up when I ask her if we can play Barbies and she knows I am always going to have the evil Barbie named Jehoshaphat (a name my mom and I used to use when I was a kid and we role played or told made up stories.)
Or when I ask her if she wants to have a build off in Minecraft knowing full well that not only will she create a multilevel castle with water features, trap doors leading to secret paths, and indoor zoos with exotic pets, while I pray to the Minecraft gods I can just complete a four walled structure that may or may not have a roof, but more importantly than the hour of building is to her that hour is an eternity of magical quality time spent with in that moment the most important person in her life.
It’s the happy tears that come when she hugs me at the end of the night and thanks me for those special moments.
I can go on and on about her sense of humor, kindness, thoughtfulness etc., but Father’s Day is only 24 hours long so I will move on to the next question.
Simple Question 2: How has being a father changed your perspective?
I grew up with 3 brothers. My oldest brother had 3 boys before I had my first child.
Needless to say I was the stereotypical boy and grown man when being exposed to so much testosterone.
Life revolved around sports, board games, cards, video games and rough housing. My childhood was a proving ground in the most competitive nature.
Part one to this answer:
At the age of 30, Camden was thrust upon us. He was plump, he was active, he was perfect and of course he was a boy!
Did life change? (I know the question asked about perspective on life…be patient and trust the process)
Very little actually.
I was already a firefighter so getting up in the middle of the night to “help others” was nothing new.
Helping raise two younger brothers and three nephews prepared me for “dealing with kids.”
Yes, there were small hiccups like the time I decided to blow on Camden’s nether area because he was all sweaty down there from his diaper and the boy’s knee-jerk reaction was to start peeing all over the walls, but we all make mistakes as new parents.
Life was to go on as planned. Raise a boy that did boy things.
Camden and I watched baseball together, Jeopardy and at the ripe old age of a few months, he would “help” me play chess against my brother.
Ok, so when he sat and wiggled on my lap it could take up to 20-30 minutes to make a single move and it was never a good one.
In all honesty, I went winless when he sat on my lap, but by golly we bonded!
Being a father to a boy just added another patron to the life trajectory of sports, games and rough housing.
Part two of this answer:
To those that trusted the process about perspective…
Fast forward about two years. Camden has left us, we have had a miscarriage and we find ourselves anxiously sitting in a waiting room for an ultrasound for our third attempt at a healthy child.
Jannae, (my wife at the time, an amazing mom and still a very dear friend of mine to this day) asked me if I thought it was going to be a boy or a girl.
I looked at her almost in awe that she could be so naïve as to think I could have a part in having anything other than a boy.
Remember I am one of four brothers, had three nephews, and one boy of my own. She retorted, “You never know.”
We repeated this conversation to the tech putting the cold goo on Jannae’s belly and the tech simply replied, “Mommy is right, it’s a girl.”
Jannae cried. She would have cried no matter what the outcome, but she cried more at the prospect of a girl.
I did nothing. Literally, I did nothing.
I could not hear anyone talking, I could not take my eyes of the peanut that was now a baby girl, I could not speak.
I did nothing.
Jannae actually became concerned and asked if I was ok.
When I did finally come to I was sweating and instinctively started rubbing my hat on my forehead as I often did with nervous energy.
A girl! What the heck am I going to do with a girl?
How am I going to be able to fill all the voids and things that were stolen from me like sports and army movies if she is a girly girl?
Forget perspective, this was a life changer.