Fatherhood is full of ups and downs; it's rarely a smooth ride. Life has thrown my husband, Noah, some of fatherhood's most joyful and tragic experiences: our twin boys, Micah and Zachary, being born three months prematurely, our boys coming home for the very first time, Micah's passing when the twins were just 11 months old and watching Zachary grow into a healthy, vibrant toddler.
The day we lost Micah was like any other day. There was no warning bell telling us to give him more kisses, savor the time, take more photos. Suddenly, our son's life was ending and we had to learn how to live without him. For Noah, that meant focusing on his blessings.
Throughout fatherhood's highest highs and lowest lows, Noah radiates optimism. Not the rub it in your face annoying optimism, but the genuine joy from everyday pleasures. He hopes that everything will turn out OK, and is compassionate when things do not. Noah's optimism is balanced with a dose of realism; he knows that nothing in life is guaranteed.
Micah was a spitting image of Noah as a child. Noah lost a piece of himself when we lost Micah. Instead of allowing the loss of Micah to harden or break him, Noah honors Micah by living intentionally and cherishing Zachary.
Noah strives to stay present and positive. He loves to make Zachary laugh. He doesn't spend time worrying about things that don't really matter. Noah's sense of humor is always on standby; he doesn't take himself or life too seriously. He adapts, quickly. Noah lives simply, yet intentionally, making the most of life's moments.
Unintentional lessons through intentional living
It's wonderful when fathers intentionally take the time to teach their kids how to fish, ride a bike or play baseball. But, some of the most important lessons are taught unintentionally, during a father's day-to-day living. Children notice their father's moment-to-moment decisions to smile instead of complain, to do what's right instead of what's convenient, to be patient instead of irritated.
Zachary is always watching his daddy, mimicking him, pretending to be him. Without Noah or Zachary even knowing it, there are some amazing life lessons being taught. Here are five unintentional lessons that Zachary is learning from his father:
Share your smile, generously, with people you don't even know, and who you'll likely never see again. Everyone is fighting a battle that you know nothing about. A smile can make a brief but powerful impact on someone's life.
2. Know music
Music heals, transcends time and brings us together. Music creates memories. In heartache, use music to find peace. In happiness, use music to share your joy. Play music. Dance. Make music. Sing. Give music.
3. Express appreciation
Things don't always work out for the best. But, we can always make the best out of things. Relish life's simple pleasures, your health and your family. Stay grounded. Don't let kind deeds go unnoticed or unthanked. Communicate what you love, not what you hate.
4. Help people
When you are blessed enough to help someone in need, help them. Empathize. Listen. Give what you can, whenever you can: time, money, blood. In our self-centered culture, be the one who can put your own needs aside to care for someone else.
5. Be affectionate
Shower your children and their mommy with kisses and hugs. Tickle your kids. Chase them. Cuddle them. Carry them. Make them laugh. It goes too fast.
As I celebrate Micah and Zachary's amazing daddy this Father's Day, I'd like to encourage all parents to pause from our hurried lives and reflect: What are we teaching our children when we don't think they're watching? What five unintentional lessons do you hope your children are learning from you?
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