As young children, our Fathers (or male figures in our lives) served as our template of virility. They were the strongest, smartest, funniest, most athletic and most handsome men we ever knew. Then, somewhere along in our childhood timeline, some of us come to realize that those traits we so admired when we were children, have either changed or were seen through an innocent and naive lens and were never really there at all. But some of us still see these men in the same light (if not more so) as we did when we were children.
I have often wondered about those of us who fall in the latter of these two groups. You’ve heard people like this typically say (usually with some bravado in their tone), “My dad is the (fill in the blank) person I have ever known!” Really?!? It’s a wonderful sentiment – and it seems like something any good son or daughter would say – but let’s be real, a vast majority of Dads aren’t competing in any Mr. Olympian competitions, or debating Steven Hawking, or in the NBA Playoffs, or hosting open mike night at The Laugh Factory. Be that as it may, you still hear people practically canonizing the men in their lives – I even do the same thing when talking about my Dad!
The source of my wonder comes from trying to understand what makes us say these things in the first place. I mean, any objective on-looker might have a completely different opinion about “our” men – but we’ll stick to our guns, “don’t you say anything bad about my daddy!” We aren’t born this way but we do develop these feelings early on in life. Who knows how early these sentiments form but maybe it develops the first time we playfully throw our children up and catch them or, they see us doing something rather benign and they laugh like it’s the funniest thing they have seen in their lives, or better yet, our children ask us why something works the way it does and we are able to explain it with ease – maybe all of this contributes to the “legend”. For some dads it might be completely legit – they might have high IQ’s can dunk a basketball without jumping and are comedic geniuses – but for the rest of us, we do the best with what we have and hope that we can keep our facade up long enough so that our children will keep us on that pedestal!
While I continue to contemplate the origin and reasons behind all of this, I obsess over the hope and dream that when my children are older, they will talk about me with such reverence and admiration – which is partly why our recent experience with moving to a new home had me incredibly anxious. Several years ago, my family moved to a new yet familiar town, to be closer to the Grandparents. It was a calculated decisions with enormous payoffs for my daughter – it was a welcomed move. The actual physical moving of our household items, although laborious, was pretty standard. My 70 year old Father-in-law led a motley crew of family volunteer movers including myself, some uncles and some cousins. We rented a truck, my Father in law expertly loaded it and at the end of the weekend, our powerhouse team of rugged, athletic and dangerously handsome men, completed the job!
Flash-forward to a couple of weeks ago while planning our most recent move – my how things have changed. Most significantly is the loss of my Father-in-law (aka Master Mover Expert Level) – his guidance and leadership was sorely missed. And that crew of young and debonair movers? Knee surgeries, degenerative discs, arthritis, fatigue and lets be honest, a few dozen pounds – the Dream Team was more like the Convalescent Team – in only a couple of years, we completely fell apart! So I decided to do something, that on the surface made complete and logical sense to me, but on the inside I struggled with immensely – I HIRED MOVERS! *GASP* Now before you begin laughing at the thought of me having such trepidation over hiring movers, let me try to explain.
On the one hand, the ability to physically muster a household move is degraded, so help had to come from somewhere – why not hire “professionals” (I use that term loosely)? But on the other hand, deciding to hire movers felt like I was conceding a certain part of my man essence (hmm, that sounds weird) – and yes, I did have a brief moment where I thought to myself, “Will my daughter look back at this moment in Dad history and knock me down a peg or two?” At one point I posted on Facebook about how lame I felt sitting back and watching the move take place. It wasn’t the best of feelings for sure and I just couldn’t resist loading whatever boxes I could and that my back would allow.
It wasn’t until I reflected on the overwhelming support I received for hiring movers and the sheer disdain for moving that we all share, that I realized that there was nothing wrong with hiring movers. My Dad rep did not take a bruising, the movers actually provided me with the opportunity to tend to more pressing matters, and my family was spared from unnecessary amounts of inconvenience – and that’s what mattered most to me. You see, I think some Dads put the weight of the world on their shoulders because we feel we need too – we aren’t dads or men, if we don’t. But the real key is knowing when that pressure is appropriate and when it is not. So maybe that’s the key to Dad “longevity” – not how strong, smart, funny, and athletic you are but more about how you use what you’ve got and do whats best for your family.