Tomorrow is Father’s Day – don’t forget to thank the male/father figures in your life for all of the love and support that they’ve given you during your life. We shouldn’t save this up for only one day a year, as the show of gratitude should happen every day all year long, but…it’s never a bad thing to celebrate the men in your life that you think are awesome, whether they are fathers (to you or somebody else) or not. It’s not easy being a man, I imagine…any easier than it is to be a girl. The concept of what it means to be “a man” seems to be ever-evolving, and men frequently get a bad rap in the media from women with an ax to grind. We want the men in our lives to walk the fine line between being traditional “MEN”, supporting us, taking care of us, helping us – but yet, we want them to cherish our independence, to value our opinionated selves, to support us in our every whim and fancy. We want them to court us, to woo us (I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that there is nowhere near enough wooing going on in the world these days), to hold the door for us and hold our hands – while at the same time not making us feel that we are reliant on them for our very existence. As hard as it is for us girls to find our way in this world, men don’t always have it that easy, either, trying to figure out how to be everything to an us that is constantly evolving. However, they get to pee standing up, so…there is that. 😉
Time Magazine did a feature this week that had a number of high-profile men writing letters to their daughters, and it’s one of the most beautiful features I’ve ever read. Having lost my Dad nine years ago (nine! where did that time go??!), I’m mighty emotional and sensitive around this day each year anyway, but this article pushed me right over the edge and I spent the better part of 30 minutes reading the letters over and over again, as the tears rolled down my cheeks. Here are some of the highlights for you:
Writer Aaron Sorkin wrote the following to his daughter Roxy:
The nurse taught me how to swaddle you. She made sure I understood that the blanket had to be wrapped very tightly around you to make you feel secure. My first try didn’t go so well. I crossed, folded, tucked and lifted you up, only to find that I was holding an empty blanket in my hands and a naked baby was lying on the bed. You had a look on your face that said, “Oh my God, my father’s a moron.”
Around 6 a.m. mom sent me to the house to get some things she wanted, and I used the opportunity to shower and shave. I also changed into a coat and tie. I thought it would be more confidence-inspiring for you if I looked like a dad. And that’s why you see me wearing ties so much. (I’ll tell you a secret—when I get to work I usually change into more comfortable clothes to write it in. Then I change back into dad clothes to pick you up at school and do homework. Something tells me I haven’t been fooling you.)
Back at the hospital the nurse wanted mom to get some rest and apparently I was annoying both mom and the nurse with questions like, “She’s sleeping an awful lot, is that normal?”, “Should I be concerned about her ears, they’re practically perpendicular to her head?”, “Can I grab that stethoscope a second, I just want to check one more time?” and “Do they sell stethoscopes in the lobby?”
People may think you were named after a song by Sting, but you weren’t. You were named after the heroine in a play by Edmond Rostand called Cyrano de Bergerac. Cyrano was a soldier and a poet who was in love with Roxanne, but Cyrano had a really big nose and didn’t think Roxanne could ever be interested in such a funny-looking guy, so he wrote her love letters and got a handsome soldier to pretend that he’d written them. In the final scene, Roxanne, who was incredibly brave, crosses enemy lines to bring the soldiers food and discovers that Cyrano is wounded and dying. She also discovers that he’d been the one writing the letters all along and can’t believe that he’d think she was so shallow that she’d only care about a man’s face and not his heart or his mind. It was Cyrano she’d loved all along but never knew it and now it’s too late because—spoiler—Cyrano dies right there in her arms. (There are also some really good sword fights.)
So take a page from Roxanne’s playbook (the other Roxanne). Be brave and know that the bravest thing you can do is be willing to not fit in. Never take pleasure in someone else failing. Dare to fail yourself. Be the one who doesn’t care as much about clothes as the person wearing them. Be kind, be compassionate and be humble. Once I saw you sit down next to a kid who was eating lunch all alone—always be that person. Once I saw you go up to a little girl who was crying on the playground and ask her what was wrong—always be that person. The girl who said, “I don’t associate with bullies”? That was you. You’ve got a giant heart and a world-class-brain-in-training and Roxy, you’ve got character.
(By the way, your ears turned out fine. False alarm.)
Isn’t that gorgeous??! Be brave and know that the bravest thing you can do is be willing to not fit in – I die. Le sigh.
Another stand out for me was this one written by the delightful Ethan Hawke to his daughters Maya, Clementine, and Indiana:
It’s hard to talk about love. I get shy and stumble around like a teenager myself. But I do want you to know that it is your life and I want you to be in charge of it. Go out and embrace all your passions. Just remember that the secret to enjoying any romance is your own self-respect. If you respect yourself, you will be amazed at the quality of the people who show up around you, and how you begin to respect others. It’s a series of dominoes that fall all by themselves. It is in that sanctuary of respect where love can flourish.
How magnificent is that? If you respect yourself, you will be amazed at the quality of the people who show up around you – fan-freakin’-tastic! I LOOOOVE that!! And it is so true – a lesson that has taken me an extraordinarily long time in life to learn. I so wish that I had had someone around to tell me this when I was younger, although knowing me, I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway. 😦
Senator Chuck Schumer wrote this to his daughters Jessica and Alison, and it really struck me: I have always believed it is harder for strong women to achieve than it is for men. But that makes strong and successful women the most interesting people in the world.
The idea of strong women is something that has been popping up a lot in my world lately – a friend looked at me recently and remarked that she didn’t understand how I managed to be strong all the time and keep my shit together so well with everything that I’ve got going on around me. Clearly she hasn’t seen me at home, conductor of the Hot Mess Express, sobbing over these Father’s Day letters! I appreciated her comment immensely, because I’m thrilled beyond belief that I give off the impression of having my shit together – and, most of the time, I do. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want help from others, or that I don’t need a helping hand from time to time – I absolutely do. The thing is that people rarely ever think to offer it to me – why? Because I don’t ask (stubborn, I know)…and I try not to let on that I need help. I prefer to muddle ahead on my own, hoping for the best. If nothing else, I hope that I am giving my daughter an example of what it means to be self-sufficient and take care of yourself. Either that, or she will grow up thinking that chaos and broken down things in a person’s home are normal and that they will pretty much go unfixed for eternity. Either way is good. 😉
The one that touched me the most was written by musician Richie Sambora – it’s penned to his daughter Ava, and it is simply amazing:
My Dearest Ava,
I wish you unconditional love, empowerment, sentimental memories from the past and amazing experiences.
I hope I’ve shown you the strength of our generational bloodline and how important it is that family takes care of each other. I am trying to pass down what I learned from my parents to you, the most beloved person in my life: morality, sensibility, compassion understanding, and patience. And you have them all.
The truth is, I would have gone off the rails without you, so in a way, you have become my savior. I hope I can repay you for that.
We’ve shared so many memories together, just the two of us, and each and every one of them is the best time I’ve ever had. From riding to school in the morning to our annual trips to Lake Powell, the most beautiful, spiritual place on the planet. Learning that you got your first job and watching you prepare, then head off to work. But my favorite memories are of spending time with you, hanging out and watching you grow into the amazing young lady that you’ve become. And I can’t wait to see all the things you’ll do in your future.
You are my deepest pleasure and my best worry and probably always will be. I feel everything you feel; it’s just what happens when you’re a parent. There’s no separating that in my heart.
I wish you strength in the future because it’s not always going to be easy. I hope I’ve given, and continue to give you, all the tools you’ll need to move forward and manage through life’s struggles yet still remain smiling in your heart.
And I will walk with you forever, even when I’m gone. When you love someone that deeply, they become your North Star, your home. And you can never lose your way.
There is nothing that can ever come in between us.
I love you like crazy,
That part about the North Star was simply too much for my wee heart, and I lost it when I read it – it gets me every time. It’s gorgeous. 🙂
My Dad wasn’t the kind of guy to express much for emotion when it came to me, but I think I pretty much always knew that he cared. I wish that I could rewind the hands of time, go back to when my Dad was here and I was younger, and work on cultivating the kind of relationship where we did talk more about this kind of thing – but I can’t. All I can do is make things different for my daughter, and hope that she is raised in a home where she never has a second of hesitation about the love that I feel for her.
Maybe I will write her a letter. 🙂