Wednesday, June 21, 2006


"Theres something like a line of gold thread running through a mans words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself."
--John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994

I've been pontificating upon my wonderful family. Expecially my daughter. And on myself. On the kind of father I am and the kind of father I wish to be. I've been exploring what it means to be a great father to her.

The natural place to start, of course, is a reflection on my own father when I was a child. I've made a list of all the things I most loved about my dad, recalling what I respected and what I enjoyed, the times that I miss, the best memories we had together, moments that touch me deeply when I think of him.

Much more difficult, but I think as equally important, I made a list of the things about my dad that I wish were different. The things that irritated me, things that he said or didn't say, things that he did or didn't do, negative memories from childhood, experiences with my dad that are sad memories.

Armed with this information, it became easier to reminisce, and to explore the foundational relationship of fatherhood. It gave me a new perspective on what a fantasy father would be like. Another list appeared, a list of the what this fantasy dad would do, what he would teach, the places he would he go, and the things he would not do.

An almost startling insight came to me. The essence of being a great father is not merely a one time insight, but a steady process of being with my daughter. As much as I would like it to come down to a list of ten things to make me a perfect father, it is more intanglible than that.

Do not misunderstand me, the lists were (and are) invaluable. They forced me to think and emote.

And I now hold three very clear facets of being a father in my mind and heart.

The first is that I wish my dad had been around more. I loved the time that dad was with me, whether it was cleaning, playing, working, studying...anything. I loved when my dad was with me in my activities. I always felt that my dad didn't have enough time for me - even though my dad was around a lot more than most of my friend's dads. So I will be around for my daughter. I will increase the quality and quantity of time I spend with her every single day.

The second is that, in the best way that I can, I will emulate the way my father listened to me, really listened. And beleived in me. Much of my courage and self-assurance as an adult comes from the times I talked with my father and he listened and treated me as a valuable, thinking human being.

And the third is that I will talk to my daughter, as my father talked to me. But I will try to better it. I will not only talk to her, I will open up to her. I want her to know what is going on inside of me. I will take that almost unimagable risk of being vulnerable with my child. She is deserving. And it is an incalculable gift.

Because I love my daghter with all of my heart, I will work very hard to become an even better father to her than I am today. Tomorrow. And the day after. And each day for the rest of my life.



Anonymous said...

Damnit Paul you made me cry, that was beautiful, even more so because I know you haven't just "written" it.. you do and will continue to live it.

I wish I'd had a dad like you

lots of love


Anonymous said...

Didn't make me cry. But sounds like a good Idea.. Makes me want to call my dad up n go do stuff w/ him. You know, they're not around forever...


Now if I had a kid... I'd probably still want to go hang w/ my dad somemore... I dunno

Posted by Eric on Sunday, May 28, 2006 at 4:22 PM

Anonymous said...

What a touching blog Paul, touching and inspiring! I've taken being a mother for granted way too often. I think I'll copy cat your list idea and see where it gets me. I know, like you said, it's *so* much more than just a list, but what a great place to start! Thanks!

Posted by Sara on Saturday, June 03, 2006 at 12:06 AM

Anonymous said...

You are such and emo-kid. Good for you and never lose sight of this stuff. It's easy not to be able to see the forest for the trees as daddy's little girl grows up. Just by what I have seen in the small part of you I know, it seems that you are really enjoying being a father. That is all a daughter can ask for. Tear.

Posted by Kristen on Wednesday, June 28, 2006 at 9:32 PM

Anonymous said...


I have something in my eye!!

Posted by Brownie on Tuesday, January 09, 2007 at 12:45 PM