Happy Father’s Day
It was 6:12 p.m. on Sunday when I heard the three greatest words a guy could ever hear: “It’s a girl!”, but it wasn’t until 3:15 a.m. late into that same night that it all became real. Our little girl Molly (Margaret Therese if she gets in trouble) was born at a very small 4 lbs. 10 oz., and she therefore was admitted to the NICU for some tests and monitoring. It was there that I got my first glimpse of what being a father is all about. There were four of us that night (dads that is), and all four of us had our little ones in our arms giving the babies’ moms some well deserved rest. [Side note: After seeing what my wife, Clare, went through during labor and delivery, if someone petitioned to have two Mother’s Days in lieu of a Father’s Day, I’d sign that petition.]
Here we were, four brand new dads all different ages and races, but all there for the same thing. We each gave each other a nervous but confident nod of solidarity, and went on to feed our infants. Looking around that room, and seeing how we each communicated with our child differently and expressed affection differently, is what made it all click. Being a dad isn’t about being perfect or knowing every trick in the book, it’s very simply about being there and loving your child.
So with that, let me extend a shout out to all you dads out there (whatever that looks like for you):
For all the fathers who have spent time in the NICU or any other nerve-wracking health scare with your child, and know the faith and steadfastness to simply show your support – much respect to you, sir.
For all the guys out there who have worked a 50+ hour week, and get home in time to make a pizza for your kids’ sleepover that Friday knowing that you won’t get any sleep – my hat goes off to you, my friend.
For all the fellas who have packed a minivan full of ‘tweens listening to music that you can’t stand, to drop them off at a concert and wait for them to get out just to hear all that same terrible music again, only this time with equally bad stories to accompany the songs – way to hold it together, my man.
For all the dudes out there who made their first trip up to your son or daughter’s “Dad’s Weekend” at college, and shared your first adult beverage with them and showed them how cool you’ve actually been all these years – cheers to you, brother.
For all the gentlemen who have been there for support and advice for your children when they transitioned into becoming parents of their own, and who just like you always have been, never failed to be there in every way imaginable – well to that I say, thank you.
That brings me to the guy who taught me everything that I’ll ever need to know about being a great dad. For those of you who have met my dad, Tom, either through Mass or Beloved, I think you can agree that a more genuine, fun and giving man you may never find. Tom Liston cares to a fault. Practically every morning I get a text first thing that says, “How is your beautiful mom-to-be feeling?” or just a friendly “You know, I think Led Zeppelin II is wildly underrated”. This man attended every game, school function, and major life event beaming and ready to help.
He’s welcomed four significant others of his children into the family as if they were the missing pieces of the puzzle that he’s been waiting for all this time. He doesn’t just talk with you, he learns about you. When I fist told him that Clare was from Omaha, you better believe he came to the first dinner with her prepared with 20 questions about her home city. He’s the reason that I’ve always wanted to be a dad myself, and the greatest man I’ve ever known. Happy Father’s Day, Tomahawk, and to all of you other dads out there!
P.S. For all of you who sent me such warm and encouraging texts and emails, thank you so much! Your kindness means the world to Clare and me, and I feel honored to be in such good company as a new parent.
P.P.S. For all of you who are or who know a nurse at Prentice Hospital at Northwestern, please know how grateful we are for all of your guidance and care. Talk about people who give everything of themselves in their job, you truly were such a helping and calming presence.
Tim Liston is the Business Manager at Old St. Patrick’s Church.