I have mentioned being very blessed in the family department. We talk very openly and candidly in our home about things that not all families do. It’s made me confident in what I say, who I am, and how I act. I can also acknowledge that this is not the case for everyone. A father figure consistently in one’s life is not something that all kids have. Having a dad that is at all your swim meets, musicals, and ceremonies isn’t something that even those who have those father figures can say. I’m so lucky to have my dad.
He’s one of the biggest blessings I have. Every person that has the honor of meeting him is forever changed by his kind heart, funny personality, and overwhelming need to help others. So, this blog goes out to my dad & all the dads – the unbiological, unconventional, adoptive, random, perfect, not-so-perfect father figures in our lives. Today, if you don’t have anyone who goes by “Father” to celebrate with, I hope you hug your partner, brother, mom, or nonbinary pal a little tighter because here’s how you know you’ve got yourself a good human in your life.
You can call them with all the dumb stuff.
You’re not fully vetted in Wisconsin winters until your car has been plowed in. I’m not talking like kick-it-out-of-the-way-with-your-Ugg-boots snow, but a rock-hard ice and snow mixture that leaves your car in place for days. This winter I found myself in exactly that situation running extremely late for work at like 6 in the morning. On the verge of panic, I called my dad. Keep in mind, my dad is forty minutes away, cannot see my car, and will not be able to aid in getting me to work faster.
You learn fairly early when raising an anxious daughter not to say, “Calm down.” Rather, you have to speak calmly and offer me solutions. About 10 minutes in, I’m crying (duh), but my little Honda creaks over the ice and gets on the road to work. In all reality, I should have called one of my strong friends to push, but I called my dad. Because I know that no matter how dumb the question, how stupid of a situation it is, or how much of a pickle I’ve gotten myself into, he’ll be there to take the call.
He’s hard on you when you need it.
My brother and I are best buds, but it hasn’t always been that way. We have a five year age gap and both craved the spotlight growing up. If you couple that with the fact that we both have some serious anxiety issues, it’s pretty clear that my parents have had to navigate some pretty rough waters once or twice. As I went to college, though, I was full-on mean to Sullivan. I didn’t know how to place my emotions in any other behavior but crying or screaming, so I did at the people that loved me the most.
My dad’s the hardest on me when I desperately need the wake up call. Siblings fight and terrorize each other. That’s natural. There’s a point in growing up, though, when your sibling is over the bullshit. They remember you as just being mean and making fun of them for wanting to spend time with you. If I didn’t figure it out (or get called out by my dad), I don’t know if I’d be able to say I’m close with my brother now. I’ll forever remember my dad saying “Words are like bullets. Saying them is like shooting a gun. You can never take it back. People might heal from the hurt that your words caused them, but they’ll always have the scars.” That seems too big to fit on a fortune cookie, so if Steve Saliby trademarked that absolute wisdom bomb we’ll take the proceeds. BUT, for real, think about it. Good dads are hard on us when we need them to be because they love us, they know what we’re capable of, and they want what’s best for us.
He’s unbelievably proud of you.
Dads are weird. Sometimes they plaster your face all over their social media with captions like “That’s MY kid!!!” and other times they’ll say it where kind of have to decode it. I’m not sure if it’s because emotional men have always been a no-no in male norms or because it’s just hard for humans to say their proud of other humans. It’s interesting to look for those “I’m proud of you,” moments from dad though.
Like I said before, we are an open and honest household. We use words like “validate” a lot. So, my dad will spend an afternoon making the perfect cover photo for his Facebook that has each and every one of my brother’s Senior photos. He wants the world to know how cool we are (not that I blame him.) Good father figures want you to know that you’re doing a good job. There’s no “right” way to do that, of course. They just make sure that you feel like your work isn’t going unnoticed, you are being heard, and you are loved for exactly who you are – even if it’s acts of kindness, gifts, or words that display that pride in you!
He lets you live through his failures.
I think that it’s part of the qualifications of becoming a father that you go through some weird shit to be able to tell your kids about. Fatherhood means you’re morally obligated to share your failures with your kids, especially when they tend to beat themselves up a lot. My dad’s really good at letting us make our mistakes, learn our lesson, but also loving us through it.
A while back I was really struggling for money. Rather than asking for help, I stressed myself to the absolute max, a form of punishment for letting my checking account get that low. I was scared to tell my dad because I didn’t want him to be worried or disappointed. At the end of the day, I want him to feel like he raised someone who’s responsible all the way around. When I finally broke down and told him I was needing help, he simply laughed at how worried I was about telling him. He comforted me with some stories from his spontaneous early twenties and how he learned the hard way to have a better relationship with money. He made me feel like these mistakes were just part of life, even if they feel like a ton of bricks in the moment.
Great father figures aren’t scared to humanize themselves for the good of the people they love. They understand that you make mistakes because they have too! Sometimes, their stories can shield us from the pain of disappointment. But when it doesn’t, they can offer their stories as a form of comfort to let us know that we’re not alone.
They’ve always got a plan…
..Even if it isn’t THE plan. Have you ever noticed that dads are weirdly good at things that make no sense? My father can hit a tennis ball with the craziest accuracy and speed – where do you learn that?! I’m not sure that it would serve him in something like the zombie apocalypse, but the notion still stands. They’re ready to beat your ass at kickball, build a deck, or literally anything else that comes up because they have a plan.
You know you’ve got a good one if he’s always got a plan. It might not be the plan you go with and there might be some big holes, but dammit there’s a plan. People who are weirdly prepared in all occasions (or can fake it till they make it) are the ones we gotta hang on to. Father figures are clinically proven to offer random advice or thoughts about how to proceed – the perfect remedy to feeling anxious, lost, or nervous. Regardless of their ability to survive on a desert island, the pure confidence exuding out of them is something we all could use a little bit more of in our lives.
He loves you for just being you.
As I said before, I know I’m blessed in the family department. I know that most people cannot say they have the relationship with their father that I do. I’m also aware that a lot of people have had to hold back parts of themselves to make the fathers in their life happy. On this Father’s Day, I want to say that you’re perfect just the way that you are. Sometimes it’s really hard to unlearn the traditional ways we grew up seeing, hearing, and learning. But, you have the ability to change the cycle now! Our generation has the ability to be the parents that love their kids for whatever they look like, whoever they love, and whatever they pray to. We have the option of being with partners who value love and compassion over outdated “morals.” We have the opportunity to be the parents that some of our peers never had. We have the ability to be (and love) REALLY great fathers mentioned throughout this blog.
I also want to say that even if you don’t have a father that you can be 100% yourself around, those of us who do, would love to share. There’s things in my life that are not picture-perfect. There’s parts of my psyche that make me stronger, but that I wish I could better understand for my family. My dad has always loved me – through the most difficult moments to the ones where I was grabbing two degrees – he had my back. When I was confused as to where my path was or where the world was calling me, he let me talk his ear off. He loves me at my worst, which makes loving me at my best so much more fulfilling. Those men, guardians, or unconventional father figures that make us feel okay for just being us are who we need to aspire to be. Loving for the sake of loving is the sign of a really good person.
He reminds you that life is meant to be enjoyed.
My dad is the funniest person I know. As I type this, I’m rolling my eyes, because I know he just wants to hear that on loop all day. The amount of times that I’ve cried laughing in his presence is unheard of. “It’s all in the timing,” he says. There’s always moments of tension or high-emotion that he can break with a well-timed joke.
Not only that, but my dad has always been the “Do it now, because you might not be able to later,” type. When I wanted to launch a blog, podcast, and media company rather than going to law school, Steve was on board. He wanted me to be happy in my career. When I talk about a potential book, he tells me to stay in my childhood bed rent-free and start doing it!
Dads can be hard on you. They’re supposed to teach you all these lessons for the real world. Getting them through that big, thick skull of yours takes some tough love sometimes. You know you’ve got a good one, though, when they’re goal is to help you enjoy the life that you’ve made for yourself.
Happy Father’s Day to whoever qualifies as “Father” in your life. I hope that they’re teaching you lessons, making you feel loved, and setting you up to be the best version of yourself. I know that I’m unbelievably blessed to have a relationship with my dad. This one goes out to the really good people who are doing their absolute best at parenting. It goes out to the single moms who have had to step-up, the unconventional dads who might not look like society’s version of a father figure, and to the dads who never imagined having to be a dad. This one goes to nontraditional, adoptive, and biological alike. This one goes to my dad – a man who’s kind heart has taught me more in 23 years than most learn in a lifetime and has been a REALLY good dad.
How are you celebrating Father’s Day? Do you have a father figure (or someone who’s stepped up in your life) that you want to brag about? Hit me up on any of the socials below! I want to hear your story!