Fatherly advice

Kevin Higgins


He doesn’t know it, but I can say with confidence that no person meant more to me growing up than my own father. This year marks my first fathers’ day, and I write this from a hotel room, hoping to make it home by Sunday to be with my family because work threatens to encroach upon the weekend. My own father spent too much time working, but as time rolls on, I remember his presence more than his absences. More than anything, I remember a tumultuous night after I had once again brought shame to our house, and after sitting quietly for a while in the lingering humidity of the late Indiana summer-evening, he said that he understood that things had to be hard for me. I could not recall feeling such love before.

When I hold my daughter tightly, when I flop her over my shoulder, or even when she punches me after I get her to try to sleep in some mornings, my heart and sometimes eyes brim with emotion (and occasional pain). If I have half the influence on her that my father had on me, I understand that I have on my hands the greatest responsibility in the world. While I obviously have to work to help provide for her needs, I also have to be home to get down on the floor so I can both look in her eyes and at least try to see what she sees. Being a father has also brought to the forefront of my consciousness that I must unconditionally love and support my family so Ellinore can see that in giving we lay the foundation to receive, and in receiving we are strengthened to be able to give.

It is also nice to know that someone has to listen to my jokes for the next 17-plus years.

Luke Fanning

For me, fatherhood has meant loving my two children, Adele and Logan, more than I ever imagined possible. We laugh together, adventure together and fish together, and I really enjoy experiencing the world through their eyes. They are so happy when I come home from work every day that I feel like a superhero every time I walk through the front door.

I have got to be one of the luckiest people on the planet for all the love and joy my children bring to me and our family.

Jesse Guy

Fatherhood is the greatest feeling in the world. No matter how weird you are, your kids still think you’re the coolest thing — besides DJ Lance Rock.

Ryan Stanley

When my daughter was born six years ago, everything else just seemed to fade to gray. Nothing was as vibrant or important. That’s not to say being a dad isn’t freaky as all hell. Like when I realized it’s my job to keep this precious new being alive. If I didn’t get food into her mouth (or at least into her slobbery little fists), she wouldn’t eat. And then, later, when she grew into a walking talking toddler there was first the parroting of words and mannerisms, but then all the questions about every subject imaginable, and I could just see those gears turning in her head, and I came to understand that all the information I was giving was helping form how she views ­— and interacts — with the world. She’s inheriting my foibles right before my eyes!

The daunting responsibility, though, is easily overshadowed by the general giddy amazement I feel at every turn of her growth, at being a part of this great new thing in the world and at being so lucky that she chose me.

Mark Gnadt

Fatherhood is much like climbing mountains. It tests you in every way — physical, mental, emotional and in ways you cannot categorize, anticipate or describe. And its rewards are the same.

Jonas Lamb

Well, we’ve made it almost four months into round two and I’d have to say that bewilderment continues to be the most constant theme in life since the arrival of our first adventure, Finnegan. Having spent a few hours walking around town yesterday and on our bellies on the living room floor, Oscar, my second son and I are really tuning into some common ground. We both like to talk, a lot, both of us a bit incomprehensible at times, we both like to sit in silence after reading aloud the seemingly simple verse of ancient Chinese Zen masters. We are amazed at the infinite small print of existence and the role we play in attempting to draw meaning from these details while seizing on the occasional opportunity to write our own additions to these operating instructions of life.

And it was during this amazing afternoon spent searching for the “Go Wilde” button on my little boy, Oscar, that I realized how much I was going to miss this guy and Finn when I seized on such an opportunity to rewrite the fine print of existence and treat myself to the Poetry Workshop at the Wrangell Mountain Center later this summer. These guys change so quickly as do we all. I read last night in a great sci-fi novel “Machine Man” by Max Berry that our bodies, all of the cells that make the fine print of our physical presence in this world, are completely regenerated every seven years, we are, in fact, completely different physical beings now than we were 7 years ago. So not just the boys will change significantly during three-plus weeks we are apart, my wife too will no doubt have rewritten some of her fine print too when we are back together in Juneau. But despite this hesitancy to take advantage of a great opportunity to spend a week writing, embracing solitude and living by the inkblood, I know this workshop and this trip is essential in keeping my fine print telling a good story, or at least giving good instructions.

I remember struggling with identity and purpose quite a lot when I first became a father. Shifting from egocentricity to allocentricity did not come easy — would I be able to maintain enough of the time I needed for myself to write while selflessly devoting myself to my new family? The answer wasn’t forthcoming but I feel confident now, nearly 5 years in that balance can be found.

This is an excerpt from writing by Jonas Lamb April 17, reprinted with permission.

Clint Jefferson Farr

Fingernails. That’s when I really became dad. I was the first to trim baby Carmen’s fingernails. Denise could not do it, terrified she’d cut too deep. To this point, she’d done everything, pushed the baby out, held and nursed her. The best I could do was jump around like a dog looking for a treat. Fingernails were my chance. So I gathered up all 5 1/2 pounds of the 4-day-old Carmen, pulled out tiny clippers and trimmed tiny nails on tiny fingers.

I’m a parent. Like any parent, I nurture, challenge, educate — and exhale in relief when my girls don’t break their necks, get abducted or fall down a well when my back is turned. Much of fatherhood is managing anxiety. My wife and I are their world. If we’re fine, they’re fine. If we screw up, there’s a good chance they’ll be screwed up. The responsibility of parenting is breathtaking. It’s like standing on a cliff — exhilarating and terrifying. Nobody tells you how terrifying.

My youngest, Siena, reminds me to suck it up. She’ll cup my face with her little palms and trimmed fingernails and look into my eyes with complete adoration and trust. It’s a moment so beautiful my heart stops so as not to interfere. Siena is everything. Carmen is everything. And that’s the other thing they don’t tell you. Fatherhood is the realization of how little you matter. It’s all about them now.


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