Many thanks to BMC for the invitation to write the cover story for their June newsletter, we're honored =)
“My Dad is a Super Hero!”
My husband Eric and I have four spirited munchkins that fill our lives with the deepest love, joy and happiness…...aaannnnd chaos, frustration and palm-to-forehead moments…can you relate??! But joking aside, I’m truly honored to be able to write about my husband in his capacity as dad for this article, because I couldn’t ask for him to embrace any more fully his responsibility, role and journey as “baba”, and because I’m so very grateful that I have the privilege of being his partner-in-life.
I asked my girls for their input (do you like their title? =), and hope their perspectives and wisdom as littles, my observations, and the lessons we’ve learned, often the hard way, are beneficial to your journeys.
It’s not just about bringing home the bacon (...plus Eric’s allergic to pork, literally ;P)
Both of us grew up with “traditional parents”. Our moms stayed home full time to raise us and to manage all matters domestic, and our dads worked hard, really hard, and showed their love primarily by being the best providers they could be.
Prioritizing family over work was a commitment Eric made prior to us having kids; one he made and stuck to prior to us having the financial stability we’re blessed with today. Perhaps it has something to do with how he’s wired, or with how he sees the world because of the filter of his childhood, or because he lost both of his parents way too early...but he honors this commitment daily, sacrificially and selflessly, and our family benefits immensely because of it.
It’s inspiring to observe him live life because he genuinely lives out his convictions. His personal and professional obligations far exceed the numbers of hours in each day, but his schedule is meticulously prioritized. When he’s working, he dedicates 100% of his focus and talents to the job at hand, but he rarely allows business to displace family time. This means choosing to decline travel or speaking engagements or meetings; decisions not made lightly, but always made thoughtfully and intentionally.
He’s taught us that regularly taking an inventory of what we say matters, and that evaluating how we prove it, is a practice worth investing in. He’s shown our family through his choices that while workplace responsibilities are extremely important, they’re not of paramount importance to a life well lived.
Lessons learned and questions to consider: The elusive “work-life-balance” isn’t about individual decisions, but rather about the overall trend of choices made; stated priorities need to win out more often than not, and priorities can be seasonal. What are your current priorities? What does your calendar reveal?
Love as an active verb.
Have you asked your littles the question, “How do you know daddy loves you?”
If not, I highly recommend asking them semi-regularly because responses change over time and can be very revealing. They can shed light on your littles’ love language/s, as well as potential areas to work on.
When asked, our girls don’t have to stop to think about it - they start exhibiting symptoms of logorrhea immediately. =)
“He head coached my soccer team last season!”
“He takes me to choir!”
“He plays with me!”
“He does homework with me!”
“He takes 1:1 daddy trips with me!”
“He tells us!”
Watching Eric exhibit his love for our girls has shown me the difference between knowing you’re loved, and seeing, feeling and experiencing that you’re loved. He deepens his bond with our girls daily by yes, being physically present, but perhaps more importantly, by being mentally and emotionally present and available as well. He’s also shown me the difference between parenting our girls, and just simply enjoying them.
Lessons learned and questions to consider: It’s important to understand and define what love means to you and your littles. What does it mean to you? How do you communicate love? How do your littles receive love? Do how you communicate and how they receive love align?
“Show don’t tell”...or maybe, “Show and tell”
Throughout my school years, I received the following comment in the margins of my papers - “Show don’t tell”. I guess I was a little slow on the uptake, but isn’t that just a great life lesson? Though if I were to tweak it a bit, I’d lean more toward the preschool teaching method of “show and tell”, because it’s wonderful to hear those three words regularly too. =)
Littles are super sponges. They pick-up and absorb what do you and who you are, perhaps even more than what you say. And they experience dissonance when behaviors don’t align with what’s said.
I’m so thankful that my girls and I have an amazing role model in Eric. He models faith in action; he lives out beliefs like “love your neighbor as yourself” by welcoming our neighbors into our home to enjoy food and drinks and each others’ company, and by regularly grabbing a coffee or meal with the homeless among us. He’s an example of what it means to be a great husband, father and friend; he carves out and protects quality time with loved ones, and does things like go lay flooring with a friend for a low-income school when he receives a phone call at 10:00pm in the evening because the project is falling behind schedule. He exemplifies being as generous and compassionate to others as we often are to ourselves; he’s established a giving philosophy for our household, and protects it by ensuring potential significant personal expenditures like vacations or school choices don’t detract from our giving commitments.
Lessons learned and questions to consider: When what you do and what you say don’t align, be open and honest about it, and ask your littles for grace and forgiveness without rationalizing it away. How do you “show and tell”?
Great dads are great dads. Not Mr. Mom’s or babysitters.
I’m going to end with something I feel quite passionate about, so please forgive me in advance if my next words appear too strong and too blunt (thank you for your grace =).
I can’t tell you how often I hear things like, “Wow, he’s so awesome! He’s Mr. Mom!” or “Whoa, he took the big girls to Disneyland all by himself when you were eight months pregnant??! Wasn’t babysitting hard for him??!”
Ugh. Sorry. But just ugh.
When men are parenting and being dads, can we all agree to not allow sub/conscious societal expectations to diminish their roles? “Traditional” parenting roles and expectations have shifted in many ways, but have stayed staunchly in the past in others. I do believe the studies that show that men and women are wired differently in some ways, but I’m advocating for us to break-free from the traditional paradigms that elevate resume-driven lifestyles above all else, and to expect or perhaps even demand more; to acknowledge and respect the choices of present, intentional dads - as great dads, not Mr. Mom’s or babysitters; and in the same way we honor and respects womens’ decision to work full-time outside of the home, to honor and respect mens’ choices to be full-time, stay at home dads.
Lessons learned and questions to consider: There isn’t one right way to parent or be a dad, and what’s right for your family today may not be right for your family tomorrow. How has the filter of your childhood and upbringing impacted how you parent? Does the filter need any adjustments at this point in time?
I’ll end with a little note to my husband.
Eric, I know you’re probably cringing a little bit because you’re a genuinely modest guy that never seeks out the spotlight, and I know you’d be the first to admit that you’re not perfect, but thank you for striving and choosing each day to be the best husband and dad you can be. Jordan, Chloe, Riley, Emma and I love you and want to thank you publicly for being a Super Husband-Dad, Happy Father’s Day!! XO, Jen