Father’s Day is Sunday. In honor of this special day of remembering dads, I wanted to acknowledge my father and share some things I have learned from him over the years.
6 Things I’ve Learned From My Dad
1. It’s important to have the right tool for the job.
I didn’t realize that this wasn’t a standard viewpoint until I was grown. My dad is pretty handy around the house and has a well-stocked workshop to accomplish whatever task that needs undertaking. This view extends to other areas as well. My dad plays golf and likes to have all of the necessary equipment. Going to a sporting event? Make sure you have a hat or shirt to support one of the teams!
I have adopted this mindset myself. If there’s something I need to do then I want to acquire what is needed. I don’t often think about ways to work with what I have or try to develop a hack. I want it done the way it should be and so, obviously, I need the exact right items. For example, I use our cheese knife for slicing cheese. I use the bread knife for bread. I use a spreading knife to frost cakes. We have a salad spinner. I’m currently in the market for a fat separator to help make gravy. If I need to do something but don’t have what I think I need, I will wait until I can get it. My husband, on the other hand, will think about the available materials and see if he can accomplish the job with what he has. There are merits to both methods, but the first is ingrained in me.
2. It’s very satisfying to do something yourself.
This is related to number one. Like I said, my dad is a handy guy. He has built several decks for his houses. He pours cement for sidewalks and patios. He has fixed furniture, built new wood pieces, and helped mom turn their backyard into a beautiful oasis complete with gazebo and fire pit.
When I was in high school, my father taught me how to change my car tires and the oil. I ended up getting a new car that made the oil changing process pretty much impossible so I haven’t done that again, but I have changed multiple tires over the years. I have changed out light bulbs, fuses, even the air filter. I have made my own house cleaners from time to time and painted a number of rooms. I do feel pride and satisfaction when I am able to complete something that I could have paid someone else to do. With the exception of cleaning the house – I do it but I certainly wouldn’t mind paying someone else to do it.
3. Always keep learning.
My dad really enjoys trying new things and figuring out how to do things himself (see point 2). A couple of years ago he took a welding class. He always gets comprehensive manuals for his vehicles to know how to properly care for them. When looking for new vehicles, appliances, or electronics, my father thoroughly researches available options to know which will best suit his needs and where to find it for the best price. He and my mom became SCUBA certified a few years ago and have been on more diving adventures than I have.
For me, this translates into lots of reading. I devour nonfiction because I want to know more about the world. I also want to know myself better and grow in my faith so I read appropriate materials. I love to take quizzes to learn about various things such as my personality (Melancholy Phlegmatic, INTJ, Enneagram 1), my favorite Disney princess (Mulan), which Chris I am most compatible with (I believe it was Chris Evans). I like documentaries and podcasts. I took a photography class to learn how to better use my DSLR camera a few years ago. I am currently studying Italian on Duolingo for our upcoming trip to Italy.
4. Have hobbies and make time for them.
Growing up there was always a part of our house that housed my father’s Matchbox car collection. When we were young, he would occasionally let us play with a few of his cars, one at a time so that we didn’t bang one into another and chip the paint. He amassed quite a collection. I remember visiting antique stores and shows where he’d see if there was anything there he was missing. He always had a workshop where he would spend time down there doing I don’t know what. I would, at times, join him in there with the tools, paint, and sawdust to see what he was up to. Occasionally I’d hammer nails into wood or try to saw a piece in half. He has played golf off and on, now finally being able to play regularly now that he’s retired.
I appreciate the need for participating in activities I enjoy now that I am a parent. It is so important to make time for things I enjoy and can give me some energy or help me relax and refresh. Reading is a hobby. So is regular exercise, particularly yoga. Writing is an outlet, obviously, and currently a hobby as it has not yet translated into paid work. I have dabbled in various other activities-tennis, SCUBA diving, photography – but nothing has been intriguing enough for me to make the necessary time and spend the money to increase my engagement.
5. Cheer loud and proud for your family.
This is one I witnessed many times during my adolescence. My dad supported my efforts in whatever I was doing – academics, athletics, milestones. He yelled a lot at my games and I had to learn how to block it out so it wouldn’t distract me from the game, but I always appreciated his enthusiasm and knowing he attended every game he could, home and away (my mom did too). Even when I wasn’t a starter, he was still there supporting me on the off-chance I’d get some playing time.
Being loud and vocal at events is not my thing. Thankfully, I have Adam to be the loud supporter of our family. I will, however, show up for the big things, take pictures, and smile proudly for my kiddos. I so appreciated how supported I felt that I want my kids to feel the same from me.
6. There are many ways to say I love you.
My family has not always been comfortable verbally saying “I love you.” But that didn’t mean I didn’t feel loved. I never doubted my parents’ love for me. They were very good about putting their love into action. My dad showed love to me through acts of service. He put a steering wheel wrap on my car. He’d wash it or vacuum it out. Once he put a fancy tailpipe on it. He would take me out to a movie or for ice cream, just the two of us. One year I wrote me a very kind and supportive letter that I have kept in a fireproof box for 20 years. He made things for my kiddos (a dress-up station, a special stool so they could help in the kitchen). When we moved into our current house, he built a counter in my laundry room so I could fold clothes without them falling behind the machines or in the cracks. Every time I fold clothes now, I think of my dad and his love for me.
I often say “I love you” through the written word. I write notes, emails, texts. I do it because it’s the way I receive love best, but I know that is not the preferred way for others. I also bake cookies, offer to babysit, sit and read a book or cuddle, take someone to lunch. I know that there are a lot of ways to express care and do my best to keep that in mind when looking to express my affection in meaningful ways.
I would love to hear about your father and the things you learned from him. Did he teach you any of the ones listed above as well?