Fathers at Home at Last
I am reading a book from the 1930’s entitled "If You Want to Write" by Brenda Ueland. So far it is pure delight with a few antiquated references that are easily overlooked. Speaking of the creative spirit she says:
"How do you keep it alive? By using it, by letting it out, by giving time to it. But if we are women we think it is more important to wipe noses and carry doilies than to write or to play the piano. And men spend their lives adding and subtracting and dictating letters when they secretly long to write sonnets and play the violin and burst into tears at the sunset."
This is the man I am speaking to today. This is who we built our Father's Day collection for. A man eager to be awed by the world around him and eager to wow his wife and children with indelible memories. I always find it hard to really start these journal posts but in this same book Ms. Ueland invites readers who want to be writers to give every effort all their heart and soul:
"...you must practice not perfunctorily, but with all your intelligence and love... A great musician once told me that one should never play a single note without hearing it, feeling that it is true, thinking it beautiful."
This concept changed things for me, so today I am going to give you a piece of my heart and not in hopes that it inspires you to buy something, although my heart has been in the curation of this Father’s Day collection, but in the hope that it inspires you, period.
Fatherhood is simply magic. It is transformative in every sense. First off, love is created immediately and abundantly. A baby, your baby, enters the world and suddenly life starts afresh. You assume a role that rocks your world while you rock and bounce a bundle of new love in your arms. Your priorities shift and though you continue to feel an urgent pull to reach your full creative potential and driving ambitions they are fueled and tempered at the same time, in the best sort of way, by a desire to preserve, protect, honor and nurture this new life. As the child begins to grow you see a genetic resemblance yes, but more important you start to see a reflection of your very soul. You see exaggerated in their actions and behaviors both your faults and your gifts. If you are watchful and willing to take it slow, these tiny humans will start to chip away at those faults and hone your gifts. The you that existed before will have been slowly refined and brought into the light. I have yet to come across a more sure way of soul-deep progress and lasting character formation in myself.
I have six children, one of which is in heaven. That was a transformative and even transportive experience for another time. Our most recent child was born on the very day the world around us started shutting down. This shelter in place moment has been filled with night feedings, first smiles, and the initial phases of introducing a new life into an ever-changing family dynamic and into a rapidly changed world. I have been moved to tears by sheer exhaustion, the good news movement, the healing earth and yes even the sunset. My new daughter and I have a daily moment on the front porch just after dark facing north to the mountains and west to the darkening horizon. It’s one of two slow moments right now and it feels right.
So now that you know where I am coming from let me tell you about how we curated this year’s Father’s Day collection. We built it around the places in the home where traditionally dad’s have potent interaction and impact. I know that every household and family is different but my hope is that by relating my own experiences you might find a connective thread to your life and find a way to enrich the life of whoever it is you intend to give a Father’s Day gift to this year or in the future.Let’s start with the Kitchen, specifically breakfast. At our house I own breakfast. My wife is happy with a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast. Not me. So, I am in charge of breakfast and I love it. Lately it has started with just my two-year-old and I sharing a bowl of cereal and a few books an hour before the rest of the house wakes. Some of our favorite are Fortunately and We're Going on a Bear Hunt. We also love anything Gyo Fujikawa did. We follow that with an all fruit or a green smoothie to wake the kids by the noise of the blender or if we have time some sizzling bacon in the oven and a nice soft or hard-boiled egg depending on their preference. My daughters love tiny things and so I am super excited about making a tradition and memory using this egg cup and, possibly my favorite new item in the store, the brass egg spoon & hammer. It’s adorable AND manly not to mention perfectly crafted. I also will be topping all of it with the freshly ground pepper from this hearty brass peppermill I think is amazing.
You should know, I am passionate about finding the items that are the whole package (design, quality material, function) not just for you but for me and my family too. I want my kids to remember breakfast with warmth, full belly’s, maybe some awkward dancing, dad’s weird things he loved and a heap of love. Before we move from the kitchen you should know we are working on all the fixins’ for a few more of our favorite things; homemade artisan sodas, backyard pizza and banana splits heirloom style. There is enough to get you started now but stay tuned for more.
Now, I really should go back a step. Before my daughter’s little feet tramp sleepily up the stairs I am found in my other daily moment of solitude. At the moment, it is a comfy chair in the living room but for our intent we are calling it the study. My time in the morning is precious. It is full of meditation, reading, list making, prayer and priorities. This is where I connect with heaven, rebalance the day ahead and ponder the why?. This is where I get a vision of how the next 16 hours or 60 years should go. I love being surrounded by things that inspire. Right now it is a marble bust of Joan of Arc that reminds me of courage against all odds and my wife in so many ways. There is also a simple white moth behind glass (see our collection here) and a growing collection of flora and fauna in acrylic. I love having a candle burning and a cup of rooibos or peppermint tea at hand. I am usually in my robe and have this lambswool blanket across my lap. Sometimes the baby needs the blanket instead as she snoozes noisily nearby while my wife catches up on her disrupted sleep. I have a lovely raw wood desk that has been taken over by the kids homeschooling but I plan to reclaim it as school comes to an end. This time comes as a sacrifice of sleep and so many other things but it is essential to my ability to be the type of father, husband, employee, co-worker, man I want to be.
When I get home from work, weather and energy permitting, we head out to the yard. The yard, or shed, or garage, or shop, or park represents a fragment of time for exploration, athleticism and play. The kids and I breathe fresh air, getting our hands and feet and faces dirty and our hearts racing. This is meaningful to me and my wife (depending on how the day went one of us goes outside while the other makes dinner) Again, let me take you to the present. We are living in a delightful duplex while we renovate our home. The backyard is just the right size for a game of croquet and to contain our bunnies. Because we couldn’t go on Spring Break this year we decided to get our first pets. The kids have been begging for a puppy but we aren’t ready for that yet. We hoped bunnies would do the trick and they sure have. So, while the youngest plays with the bunnies and the mud kitchen, we play a game of croquet or boules.
We learn what it means to take turns, to replace jeering criticism with cooperative laughter, to make mistakes and to celebrate when the four-year old clumsily whacks the ball through two wickets at once! She played it cool. This time outside in the yard is priceless and I am picky about the types of things I let clutter the garage and the yard. I am so happy with this fun and playful croquet set made in Italy by a German company. I also am enamored by the brass bells. I can’t wait to come up with competitions using the boxing bell, to attach the sportsman’s bell to that puppy we someday bring home and to pause the outdoor play with a call to come in with the dinner bell.
I have warm memories of my father whistling us in for dinner with a signature melody we all knew meant--run! I am anxious to honor him and help him know of my love. He is more of a cowboy than I am but easily tears up at the sunset or my successes. My Father-in-law keeps me on my toes and expects my best while giving me the ability to dream. When either of them offer a compliment, counsel, or support it is more precious than gold. My efforts are a continuation of the legacy they have established and that of my grandfathers before them. Fathers then and fathers in the world today are worthy of our honor and love. Fatherhood is a potent and evolving thing of wonder worthy of our continued efforts to perfect.
May you find a bit of joy from the collection we have compiled. If something we have said or found has resonated in some way please let us know. We truly love to hear from you.
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If you are new around here read Carolyn's journal entry from last Father's Day.