With another Father’s Day in the books (my 28th as a “guest of honor,” and the 23rd since losing my own dad, leaving me a Father’s day “orphan”), I decided to briefly reflect on what yesterday, and generally being a father, means to me.
In short, I’m honored and grateful to be a parent. I’ve never thought I merited “World’s Greatest Dad” status because I’m not, though at one time I did receive a mug proclaiming just such an accolade.
If you ask me, I’m an OK dad, with flashes of “really good.” But world’s greatest? Not even close.
Neither was my father, but I never held that against him, or thought he owed me anything more than what he could give. He was a good man, someone from whom I learned a lot but not during long late-night talks at the kitchen table or while having a catch in the backyard (there were none), while hunting whitetails in the north woods or during walks on the golf course (places we never went and experiences we never shared).
Instead, I learned things about my dad by observing him as he lived his life every day, in the limited hours I had the chance to see him. Some things I learned by his example; others came from seeing what I didn’t want to become.
And just as my own father probably felt when he was alive, as I look back on my parenting career, I see hundreds or thousands of things I could or should have done differently to be a better father to my kids. But now, that’s all water under the bridge, and all I can do is put a stake in the ground and move forward, to be the best person I can to my kids from this day forward.
One year, when I was a about seven, I gave my dad a “World’s Greatest Dad” statue. I picked it out and bought it with my own money. When I gave it to him, I remember he smiled, and I’m guessing he felt the same way I did when I received my mug so many years ago. “Thanks kid. I truly appreciate this. I’m just not sure I deserve it.” Those weren’t his exact words, but if he didn’t say it, that’s probably what he was thinking at the time.
Because while my dad was far from perfect, he was self-aware.
I love my family, Joanie and the kids (Kate and Will), and when Father’s Day rolls around (not unlike the odd Tuesday, rainy Saturday or any other day of the year that’s not Father’s Day), I’m reminded not that I’m the greatest dad in the world; rather, I’m the luckiest dad in the world, something else I’m not sure I deserve, but like free money or a couple extra fries at the bottom of the McDonald’s bag, I won’t turn it away when it’s offered.
My family is the best. That’s a fact, and I'll fight you to the death defending my position. For my money, Joanie, Kate and Will are three people I’d stack up against anyone. They’re the people I want to laugh with, cry with, go to battle with, hang out with, problem solve with, debate with, and celebrate with.
Without Joanie, I wouldn’t be a father to these two bright, beautiful, kind, funny and talented kids (though now they’re anything but kids, they’re full-blown functioning, real-world adults, which is something even their dad can’t claim on certain days).
And without Kate and Will, I wouldn’t have a snowball's chance in hell to be nominated World Greatest Dad. But that’s truly the way they made me feel yesterday, and frankly, the way they make me feel every time I see them or talk to them.
But we can argue who’s best, worst and in the middle of the pack all day and never really get anywhere. So, let’s not.
Instead, I’ve decided that this Father’s Day, and for all those that lie ahead, I’m embracing the title of World’s Luckiest Dad, and I’m also going to work at getting closer and closer (though I fear it’s unattainable) to the title of World’s Greatest Dad as well. Because our kids (and Joanie) deserve that and so much more.
As for my dad, I still miss him, but not necessarily because I don’t get to spend time with him on Father’s Day or because he was the World's Greatest Dad. I just … well, miss him. And I hope he knew how I felt about him while he was with us, like my kids have done so well and so often all these years for me.
To my family, I simply say thank you.
© 2022 David R. Haznaw