I’ve been pondering what to write for this post for almost a month now. I figured I could write a piece about how awesome my own dad is and highlight it with picture perfect memories from my childhood. I could have written about how fantastic and amazing Superman is as a dad. I could have examined all father figures in my life, the facts and studies on the importance of father-child relationships, or I could have focused on developing a relationship with Heavenly Father. I was even tempted to have Superman write it for me (who better to write about dads than a dad?)
If you were here hoping to read that, I’m sorry, I didn’t write that. Hopefully you’ll still enjoy this one.
When I was twenty, D. Todd Christofferson gave this talk to the men of my Faith. I read this talk shortly after it had taken place and it became my talk. While this talk was expressed to those with a Y chromosome, I felt this need to apply it to me. I remember reading it and taking notes all over it. A friend asked me what I was doing, when I showed and told him, he told me it was his favorite talk from that session of conference and we discussed it.
I have been admonished many times in my single life to look for a real man, a man who exemplifies Christianity, a man who would be not only a good partner, but one who would bring me closer to my Father in Heaven. Now that I am married to my best friend and as my cousin has said “the last good one out there”, I see the message of Elder Christofferson in a new light.
You always hear the stories of the mom who gives up the last piece of pizza so her kid can have it, or how mom stayed up all night doing something for her child; how mom sacrificed her own health and needs for her children. What we don’t hear as much of is what that dad did.
I love the story in the beginning of this message: Elder Christofferson related a memory of his father sacrificing lunches for over a year to save money to buy an ironing machine so that his mother could iron clothes without hurting. We might read than then look to our husband, our father, our brother, uncle, grandpa, male friend and think “Why haven’t you done something like that for me?”
Well I realized now that my dad has been doing it for me (and my family) all along. When I was nineteen I lived at home and attended public college: Metro State. Before school started, my dad took the day off from work. He walked me to the nearby bus stop and showed me the bus schedule. He rode the bus with me down to the light rail station then rode the light rail with me down to campus. He walked campus with me to each classroom that I would be attending so I would know where my classes were. He showed me how to get to down town from campus, alternative ways to get to the station and so on.
Well I am far from perfect, and my nineteen year old self was far from independent. I found that many times a class I was taking made me miss my train, making me miss my bus, making it so I would be an hour late for work. I would call my dad in panic and tears and he would leave his work in the DTC (at least twenty to thirty minutes away without traffic) and zoom over to pick me up. He discussed with me potential solutions for my continual issue with missing the train, but he let me figure it out for myself. He always was there to zoom to my rescue.
My dad doesn’t need to rescue me from downtown light rail stations any more. He doesn’t need to save me from the spooky shadows on my wall, but I still need him. I had a personal conflict happen. I was informed I had been accused of something hurtful by someone I love. It was late at night; I was upset and needing advice. I knew my dad was probably already in bed, but I called him. He answered and talked to me for over an hour until I felt comfortable and confident in handling the situation.
My dad is not alone in this sacrifice of self. Superman is the same way. He sacrifices endlessly for Princess Pea, for me, and for his family. Every man who is worthy of admiration in my life has had this fantastic quality. It’s the quality that when the phone rings and someone needs them, even when they want to say no, even when it’s been the first night they could unwind and relax, they say yes. They sacrifice, they serve, the live up to their duty.
Besides these qualities, a real man (father) is a teacher. In my first example my dad taught me how to ride public transportation. This is just one of a bazillion things that he has taught me. He taught me to carry a noisy key chain in case of attackers, he taught me how to manage conflict with my mom, he taught me how to use a computer, how to figure out things by trial and error, he taught me how to scoop dog poop (ugh), he taught me how to try and fail and try again, he taught me to laugh in the face of trials, and he still teaches me lessons every time I see him. My lessons don’t stop with my dad; Superman, Mike Baxter (my brother), my Grandpa, My cousins, My Father-in-law, Superman’s Grandpa, and every stalwart man in my life teach me things all the time.
Men seem to find the humor in everything. My Grandma once told me a story that my dad as a child was not funny at all. In fact, my dad was terrible with humor. This was shocking to me because my dad is the quickest witted person I know. He always has the perfect response for everything you’d think it was a scripted. I only have met a few men who have no sense of humor what so ever. I think they have to have one in order to deal with the craziness and hormones that is women.
All the men I know are the hardest workers. Superman makes me feel lazy every day, even if I’ve spent my day rushing about, executing amazing activities, or even working. Superman is always picking up odd jobs, manual labor, desk, it doesn’t matter, and he does it all. He has goals and he goes for them. I know this seems like it goes hand in hand with sacrifice, but you can be a hard worker without sacrificing much.
The more I examine my dad, my husband, my brother, my father-in-law, my grandpa, and so on, the more I realize how lucky and fortunate I am that men are so different than women and that I have so many amazing men in my life.
What are some of the qualities you think the best men and fathers have?