Lately I've read several bits of commentary on how 'Mother's Day and Father's Day are overrated' - on how 'we don't need to spend a day celebrating what people should be doing anyway'. I couldn't DISAGREE more. I definitely deserve a mother's day. And I know that Kent deserves a father's day!
When I had baby Metta- Kent met me at the hospital at 7AM- where he patiently waited the next 16 hours while I sat in boredom and stress and tears about not getting the leap day baby I wanted! At 9PM- after a long day- he ordered Chinese food to the room and ate as I watched and cried some more :) Luckily Metta made her debut with just a few minutes to spare on the 29th. Around 3 am Metta was crying to be fed and I was crying in my bed because she wouldn't eat, I was in pain, and was so exhausted. Kent was OUT COLD. I yelled his name. and yelled it again. to no avail. Finally I started throwing ice chips at his head until one made it into his ear and woke him up as it melted :) He tried his best to help us- but we both kept crying! and he fell back asleep!
My point in telling the story was not to point out how easy fathers have it- but to share the dedication of Kent. He had met me at the hospital after he worked a 30 HOUR SHIFT! with very little to eat during that time. and then stayed up another 20 hrs with me. Two days later he dropped me off at home and went BACK to work.
During those 2 days AND the next five- MY dad flew in from Utah and took care of my other two rugrats!
Fatherhood is different than motherhood in so many ways- but can be equally as physically, emotionally, and spiritually difficult as motherhood.
As I thought about just 'why' fathers are so important I made a list the size of a mountain. Here are two of the reasons I came up with while I was brainstorming!
* It was really important that I had a father back in college when late one night during an Idaho blizzard- driving a van full of friends home for Christmas break- we left the emergency brake on for over 60 miles on the freeway and melted the entire wheel to the axle. My dad drove ALL the way up to Idaho- arriving around 3AM- to turn around and drive us ALL back with him to Utah.
*it was pretty important that I had my dad last year when Kent was trimming bushes with an electric hedger and trimmed right THROUGH the extension cord- blowing out the electricity to half of our house. My dad is an electrical engineer and walked me through fixing the problem!
I still call my dad when I'm in trouble or have a question that needs years of experience or a handy man :) But- those parts of dads are simply bonuses.
In my reading and study- I came up with three TRULY important reasons for dads!
FIRST. Dads are important LEADERS in their homes.
L. Tom Perry (apostle) said:
“Fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so. Father, with the assistance and counsel and encouragement of your eternal companion, you preside in the home. It is not a matter of whether you are most worthy or best qualified, but it is a matter of [divine] appointment. When you become a father, God also divinely appoints you as a leader
As a leader in your home you plan and sacrifice to achieve the blessing of a unified and happy family. To do all of this requires that you live a family-centered life.” 8
I have been so lucky to have fathers in my life who were family centered leaders. I remember when my dad gave up watching football on Sundays because it was important to my mom that the day be a family day.
I know that it is our family that guides Kent's decisions. Not work, not his hobbies, not his need for sleep or working out. The sacrifices he makes to lead our family are enormous. And not only does he lead our family- but he LOVES me and we lead as a team. He leads our family with love and patience and kindness. He is a great example of Howard W. Hunter's talk where he states: "Indeed one of the greatest things a father can do for his children is love their mother".
Every talk I read about fatherhood teaches the importance of fathers not being whole without mothers. I found this quote by President Hinckley that defines the leadership in our home perfectly.
" In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are coequals.” 10 Since the beginning, God has instructed mankind that marriage should unite husband and wife together in unity. 11 Therefore, there is not a president or a vice president in a family. The couple works together eternally for the good of the family. They are united together in word, in deed, and in action as they lead, guide, and direct their family unit. They are on equal footing. They plan and organize the affairs of the family jointly and unanimously as they move forward."
#2 Fathers are important TEACHERS
Joseph Fielding Smith stated:
“When you recognize the importance of teaching your children, you become humble, because at once you realize that this is accomplished by precept and example. You cannot be one thing and effectively teach another. You must live and study and pray for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. You must purify and organize your life so that your example and leadership reflect the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Teaching your children is the MOST important thing you can do in your life. Fathers teach their children by word AND action.
I remember growing up that we were a family that did NOT use foul language and did NOT watch bad movies. I do not remember a SINGLE time my father ever sat me down and 'taught' me these things. But in my life I cannot recall hearing my father use a swear word or watch an R rated movie even once. He taught me in more ways than one.
Kent teaches our children wonderful things. He reads them books aloud as they go to sleep (they just finished harry potter today!), he teaches them to appreciate classical music and how to identify composers and instruments. At the age of two Zeb could recite and locate all major organs in his body- including his kidneys thanks to his dad :)
The dads in my life truly know that- ‘No other success in life can compensate for failure in the home’.
And #3. Fathers are important PROVIDERS.
The family proclamation states:
By divine design- both parents- but especially fathers are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.
Fathers have the important responsibility to provide for the physical, emotional, and spiritual well being of their families.
President Howard W. Hunter stated:
A righteous father provides his children with his time and presence in their social, educational, and spiritual activities and responsibilities. Tender expressions of love and affection toward children are as much the responsibility of the father as the mother. Tell your children you love them.
I was lucky enough to marry a man who has three sisters and a mom. And so by default, kent is sensitive, observant, and loyal! Luckily his father and mother also taught him about the importance of hard work and strong moral character. He is the quintessential provider. Kent works so hard to make me and our family happy and healthy.
Being a good 'provider' is not a matter of wealth or rank- but a matter of determination, diligence, and desire!
I am so grateful for all of my dads. Gramps, Kent, my father in law, leaders, neighbors, friends, and any other male 'father' figure I've had. My fathers have made me in part who I am. and THAT deserves to be celebrated.
I had this quote to share in closing- as an example of the perfect father figure- My Father in Heaven. Because it can also apply to mothers :)
As a father, I wonder if I and all other fathers could do more to build a sweeter, stronger relationship with our sons and daughters here on earth. Dads, is it too bold to hope that our children might have some small portion of the feeling for us that the Divine Son felt for His Father? Might we earn more of that love by trying to be more of what God was to His child? In any case, we do know that a young person’s developing concept of God centers on characteristics observed in that child’s earthly parents.
-Jeffrey r Holland
Happy Father's Day!!