Recently I had the “pleasure” of celebrating another birthday and found myself reflecting
upon my life and wondering what the future has in store for me. Reflecting upon who I
am, what I have accomplished and where I am headed. At this point, it is probably safe to
assume that I will never play professional baseball, take Broadway by storm or walk on
Career decisions, financial dilemmas and parental responsibilities have taken center
stage and dominate my life and every waking hour. There are so many goals to
accomplish, trips to take, people to meet and hobbies to master with so little time to do
any of them. However, if I try really hard, there is still one thing that I may be able to do:
become “the best dad in the universe”. I may even excel at it. My sons David and Evan
have called me many names, not all of which are positive. Yet perhaps none is as
meaningful to me as being called the “best dad in the universe”.
Can David and Evan really mean it when they say that I’m the best or are they just
trying to pull the wool over the tired, wrinkled eyes of their old man? Are David and Evan
looking for something from me, perhaps money, an extra half hour of TV or a new toy?
Am I even in the right house? Surely the boys cannot be talking about me, the guy who
loses his patience and temper and yells a bit too loud, tells them what TV shows to watch
and sometimes forgets what it was like to be a kid.
Where is that manual on parenting that I’ve been looking for? I know that it is
around here somewhere. Which chapter is it again that discusses in detail how to be a
better parent, how high to count before losing your temper, what to say and not say to
your kids and how to become the perfect father? The rules for becoming the perfect parent
certainly can’t be found in any textbooks and there are only so many tips from Kathie Lee
Gifford that I can tolerate in my quest for excellence.
Fatherhood doesn’t come easily to any man but it is a particularly daunting
challenge to someone who has never known a father’s words or love, and has no idea, not
a clue about how a dad should act or what he should say. It is rather sad that I have never
even spent one night under the same roof as my father and have not received a birthday or
Christmas card from him in more than 40 years. I know my father and he is not an evil
man; there is just no bond, love or emotional relationship between us. The most that I can
hope to do as a father is provide my sons with all of these things and more.
I have often wondered what it would have been like to have discussed “the birds
and the bees” with a dad, or how it must have felt to score the winning touchdown under
the watchful eyes of a proud father. What kind of look would dad have worn on his face
when I showed him all of the A’s on my report card, and how loud would he have yelled
after finding out that I had been out all night drinking with the guys?
I certainly didn’t come up with that phrase-”the best dad in the universe”- and
frankly the weight of trying to live up to that reputation is a mighty heavy load to bear.
When David and Evan tell me that I am the best dad and give me a hug, it warms my heart
and makes me forget about all of the inconsequential annoyances that otherwise occupy
my thoughts and my life. I thank David and Evan for their kind words and tell them that I
am not the best dad but that I am trying hard to become him.
Like most other dads, I begin each day thinking about what I can do to live up to
my children’s expectations and provide them with the opportunities that I never had.
Unfortunately, I may never be able to provide them with all of these things, but there is
one thing that I can still offer that I never had- a father’s love. Maybe I’m not really that
far away from becoming “the best dad in the universe” after all.