"Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father." - B.Obama

June 16, 2008

You probably saw yesterday in the New York Times and elsewhere that Sen. Barack Obama gave a speech on Sunday about the importance of fathers in families.

Like Senator Obama, I grew up as the child of an absent father. Like him, I was fortunate that my mother's parents were there for my mother and I, to provide support and guidance, to love and nurture, and to provide us with a home. As an adult, I spent a lot of time search for a "father figure" in my life - a mentor or teacher, a friend, a romantic partner, someone who would fill that role in my inner life. My Grandfather was a wonderful, loving man who delighted in me and taught me baseball and life lessons, but he was my Grandmother's second husband (my mother's stepfather), and I always knew that despite my own closeness to him he didn't really fit into the "father figure" mold in my mind.

My mother, too, was raised as an only child by her mother and her mother's parents. I don't know why my Grandmother's first marriage broke up; I only know that it did. My mother feared her Grandmother but adored her Grandfather - she called him Pawpaw and the few stories she tells of him reveal that he was about the only figure in her young life who loved her unconditionally.

I like to think that in some way I've broken the cycle. I fell in love with a wonderful, strong man who loves me, who is frugal and sensible (as I am not), who believes strongly in family and who is a superb and tender father to our son. Virtually everything I know about being a parent, from changing a diaper to disciplining to being present in the moment with my son, I've learned from my husband. I hope my son can grow to be the same strong, sensible, honorable man his father is.

So, a belated public Happy Father's Day to my husband, who is, without question, my best and only candidate for world's greatest dad.

Reading at O'Naturals