Tag Archives: dad

A Tribute on Father’s Day

“I love her.”

My husband Jon said these words with a sense of awe as he held our four day old daughter, whom we’d just brought home from the hospital.

zoe baby (2)

“Well, of course you do.”  I said, smiling at his bewilderment.

And he was bewildered.  Jon knew intellectually that he would love our child when she came into the world.  We had planned to have children from the get-go; both of us frequently speculating about “Junior and Juniorette” imagining what they would be like, what we would all do together.  Jon got excited when we’d “visit” with the baby each time there was a sonogram.  That was how it stopped feeling to him like just “my pregnancy” and evolved into “our child.”  Having a kid was exciting.  Or would be eventually.

The thing was, what exactly did you do with a baby?  Jon wondered.  How was a guy supposed to fall in love with someone who just lies there and cries, nurses or sleeps (hopefully)?   Jon was nervous about what it would mean to be the father of a newborn.  It might take at least a few months to connect with our child, he figured, at least until she could smile.

But four days in, Jon was holding Zoe, bouncing her just a little, when it hit hard.  Cupid’s arrow for new Dads struck with such force it brought tears to his eyes.  And he said it:

I love her.”  He was so startled and overwhelmed by the feeling, my eyes filled with tears too.  And from that moment on, a powerful new identity took over my sweet, funny, loving husband.  He was now Daddy.  Which is how he frequently referred to himself, even before our little one could vocalize her first string of da-da-da-da’s.

And two and a half years later, when my son was born, there was no surprise at all.  When the doctor handed him to Jon, Theo rested peacefully in the gentle, adoring hands.  “Daddy’s got you.”  Since I had had two C-sections, Jon held both children before I was allowed to.

As  mother, I have always been very involved with my kids and their lives–some might say too involved (but that’s for another post).   All along, Jon has been the best partner I could imagine on this journey of parenthood.

Today, I think my children are  the luckiest kids in the world to have a dad like Jon: the perfect balance of smart, loving, silly and respectful.  He teaches them complex board games, plays sports with them, reads to and with them, takes them on hikes, helps with homework, has high standards for them, but understands when they need to take a break and be a little wild.  He knows our children so well: how they’ll react to things, what their strengths and weaknesses are, when to stand back and give them the space they need to grow.  Best of all, my kids know how much he adores them, how special he thinks they are.  His love will strengthen them and impact who they are throughout their lives.

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Happy Father’s Day.

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Chasing the Dream: A Lesson From Dad

Two beautiful members of my father's legacy

It wasn’t until after his cancer diagnosis in 1989 that my dad began to focus most of his efforts on his memoir.  The writing process was different from previous works.  It was good for the family—for my parents’ marriage—because it involved less research, less travel.  He was home more, though by that time, I was living in Boston.  Fortunately, Pan Am had this great New York to Boston Shuttle which cost fifty bucks for a round-trip ticket, so I came home on weekends whenever I could.  My mother would park the car and my dad would wait for me at the gate. 

That’s one of my clearest visual memories of him, actually.  Dad’s eyesight was so bad that he couldn’t see me until I was right up close.  But I could see him.  He wasn’t a tall guy, so the first thing I always picked out of the crowd was his wide, brown dome of a forehead.   He’d be waiting there, hands on hips, face full of anticipation as I came down the ramp.  His embrace felt like home.

Of course, once we got home, the time I spent with my parents was limited.  I’d be lying if I implied that seeing them was my main reason for flying to New York those weekends.  I was in my twenties with lots of friends from high school, college and my old ballet school swarming the city.   The social scene was what drew me back each weekend.  I might have dinner with my parents or spend a few hours with them in the afternoons, but at night I went out, stayed out late and slept until eleven the next morning.  Like many very young people, I believed time was limitless.  When I woke up, my father would have already put in a good five hours at the typewriter.  He’d get up before dawn—as he did all his life until he got really sick—put up the coffee, pour himself a mug (black with loads of sugar) and begin his work. 

By then had become clear that the memoir was the thing he should have been working on all along.  This was going to be his triumph.  Dad believed—because this was the way the publishing world had worked when he was at Viking*—that he could get his “four chapters” done and would then be given a big advance to do the rest. 

My father remained idealistic about his work to the very end.  He could always imagine success waiting just beyond the horizon.  “When my ship comes in …” was the phrase I heard him use over and over again.  

Though the ship never came in, I am proud of my father nevertheless.  He left me a gift that most daughters never get: the first ten chapters of a richly detailed memoir, ten more chapters outlined.  Some people have suggested that my mother and I try to finish the book, so his legacy lives on.   It is a beautiful thought, but I know, lacking my father’s experience and perspective, we’re incapable of doing that.   Besides, I believe that his legacy lives on anyway—in me and in my children.

Of all the lessons I’ve learned from my father, the most important is: set your goals high, but don’t squander the present.  No matter how my father chased his dreams, he always had time for me.

Enjoy the love of your family, your children’s joys and wonderings.  Strive for the future, but don’t let NOW pass you by.    

*My father was an art director at Viking Press from 1959-1981