I was the first child in my family. My mother and father both worked, both were from another country (Canada, yo!), and they did not have a lot of money. But it was okay. Because these situations molded the type of father I was going to have, for which I am so grateful!
This is what he was (and is, and will be....):
*Frugal. I remember watching my father with his receipts, bills, and calculator at the kitchen counter or table, going over their finances. I remember the hand-me-downs and rarely eating out. I also remember a lot of second-hand items, not going to summer camps, and the library. So, no, we didn't have a lot of money. This was okay, because they were dang good at budgeting! So good, in fact, that we always went on vacation. Usually it was to see relatives, but they planned some bigger ones, too. We went to Disneyland many times (thanks to relative discounts), we spent 2 weeks in Seattle/Vancouver Island (thanks to family in Tacoma), we would camp, do day-trips (Yellowstone or Craters of the Moon), and of course --Canada to see grandparents. My parents would also save for their own vacations: Hawaii, England, an Alaskan cruise, Virginia, Mexico, etc.
This taught me that it is possible. And in the wake of our own financial problems (of our own making), I'm clinging to this idea now, more than ever --to go without, so we can have/do the things that really matter to us. Plus, remembering what it was like for our family of Six, it helps me see that I can do the same things for my almost family of Seven.
*My dad is the best homemaker in the world!
Because they both worked, my mom could not do everything --she just didn't have the time. But my dad never made her feel bad, nor did he complain. Instead, he stepped it up immediately upon their marriage (and has continued for 32 years!) to help out around the house. My dad's day-off changed every week (because they had to work Saturdays, too), and quite often during his day-off, he would do the laundry, clean the garage, mow the lawn, budget the finances, bake a pie, and/or wash the car. My parents would take turns doing dinner (clean-up was for the children!), and the equality of worked came about just because it had to be done. No complaints from either of them (that I'm aware!), too. They just did it, because they loved each other.
Which wasn't fair to Brandon, really. I mean, think about it: My father was a Feminist, without really knowing it. So, I was raised to believe that all men were that helpful! Not that men shouldn't be that helpful (holy cow, the Gospel teaches a lot about being help meets for each other, rather than one ruling over the other --in fact, the Prophets have specifically talked about the importance of righteousness and kindness and helpfulness in a marriage; there is no room for chauvinism --it goes against the Gospel in every single respect!), but! I need to remember that not everybody was raised as I was...so, my apologies to my husband, for having such out-of-this-world expectations. ;)
*My father's interests: movies, reading, traveling, baking...yeah, he's not your typical Alpha-Male, right? Well, hallelujah! This goes along with what I said above --my father taught me a love for reading, for good movies, for travel, and for food (although I cannot even come close to baking like he can) --and he taught me that a Man can still be a Man without loving sports and camping. Sure, a man can be a man while loving sports and camping (look at my man!), but it's nice to know that there are all kinds --just like there are all kinds of Women.
*My dad rarely raised his voice to us (he let my mom do it. Haha!), and he was patient. He was (and is) a great listener, too. I remember having many talks with him after I left for college; I was considering transferring to another school and/or moving back home, and his counsel and advice was exactly what I needed to get through the tough times. In fact, I can clearly recall a few times when my father said something so specific to what I needed at the time, that it has remained with me, even to this day. Even now, I try to listen to his counsel (although sometimes I don't always follow!).
Dad, you are amazing. Thanks for raising me and putting up with me. I'm profoundly blessed to have a father like you in my life!
The Father of my Children:
Yesterday, we decided to take the kids up the mountains. We had been wanting to do something like this for a while (since camping in my "condition" at this stage doesn't make sense), and yesterday was the first time (an possibly last) we could do it.
We packed a lunch, we ignored the impending rain, we found another way around Pleasant Grove's Strawberry Days Parade, we drove up American Fork Canyon, we turned at the right fork, and we rode over bumpy, bumpy roads to Sliver Lake Flats. We drove through a creek and tried to get further up for a hike --but alas, too much water, rain, and mud sent us back to the Silver Lake Flats (it was full-up!).
Then we sat in our car, made our lunch, ate it, watched a movie, and hoped the rain would subside. Subside it finally did! We unpacked our camping chairs, the fishing pole, the umbrellas, and some fish bait.
And we sat in the chairs, and I took lovely photos of the lake while Brandon fished with the kids (we only have one pole).
I watched my husband fish with his children, and I laughed as he sang silly songs and made silly jokes with them in the car, and it made my heart happy. Because he truly is a fantastic dad! He reads to them (they are now on Voyage of the Dawn Treader in the Chronicles of Narnia), he plays with them (tackle, video games, tickle fights) and he encourages them (like today, when he found out #3 was able to get up in front of the Primary for a lesson).
I remember when each child was born --how he helped me through labor and delivery, and how he looked as he held each one in his arms for the first time. He gave our newborns their first baths, and he was always so helpful in every way. I love the look on his face now when the kids say or do something that makes him laugh (usually a belly laugh!) and when he holds a sleeping child in his arms. I especially love it when a child ends up --at least for a time --preferring their father over me, because it proves that they can feel his love, too.
Brandon has proven over and over and over again that he loves his children. He's a great dad, and by the cards the kids made for him this morning, it's obvious that many of their favorite memories are of their father. It's wonderful! Thank you, Brandon. I really do love you.
And to all those other dads out there
(Brandon's father, our grandfathers, my brother, etc.),
Happy Father's Day!