Father’s Day: Things I’ve Loved and Learned as a Dad

Category: Weekly Columns

Now that my first-born is going to college, passed his 18th birthday milestone, and I’ve been a dad for nearly two decades, it’s time with this Father’s Day to reflect on some highs and lows of my dad-journey! Without a doubt, being a dad has been the highlight of my life. Granted, walking on the grounds of Wimbledon and seeing The Stones are also high on my list, but those fit more in the fun category of life and are fleeting in nature. Being a dad, as the title of this column implies, is a more enduring and challenging experience!

A great part of the journey of parenting, for me, has been the things that have made me stronger and, possibly, better not only as a parent but also as a person. Without a doubt, I’m a better husband this second time around due to the trials and tribulations of parenthood.

The list below will alternate between positive and, let’s say, not so positive experiences. They are in NO order of importance other than what came to mind first while writing this column. That may actually reflect some priority but given how random my thinking is, I doubt it. So, Happy Father’s Day dads:

~~ I absolutely died watching my boys being born. Both births were very quick, so the drama that many parents endure – and that is the correct word – was thankfully not present for my boys’ mother. But, the joy was there for both of us.

~~ My first-born had colic. He didn’t sleep for three months. Neither did we.

~~ Making my second child. Yeah, I take full responsibility for both helping conceive him and making it all happen. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say that his mother wasn’t one of those women who kept exact track of the optimum fertile time of the month. I took on that job. When that optimum time occurred, I flew in from being on location in Canada, for the weekend, and helped make son number two.

~~ After my boys were born, going to work every day was a bitch. I hated it. I wanted to be home. I’d waited so long to finally become a dad that work no longer held me in its thrall. Thank goodness, I was finally able to quit and take on the full-time parent job!

~~ Getting the lack of support I experienced during those first few years of doing the dad thing was dispiriting. My boys were not yet in elementary school. One was at a pre-school while the other was at home. The pre-school moms did not include me in most of their activities. That hurt, not because I cared to be with them, but because I cared that my son got invited and included.

~~ The once-a-week JOY I watched when my parents were able to take my first-born for a half-day was incredible. They had waited so long to become grandparents and while their health soon began to fail, the short years after my first-born could walk and talk and before elementary school began, were years that my parents would pick him up and have a day together on a weekly basis. I was so happy to give them this.

~~ Sitting the boys down and telling them their mom and me were getting a divorce was a horrendous task. They were both under ten, neither understood what we were saying in any real sense, and both began crying. It broke my heart.

~~ Introducing so many of my interests to my boys and watching which ones took and which ones didn’t was both fun and frustrating. As it turned out, most of my favorite things they didn’t take to and they ended up developing interests of their own. That experience was eye opening and made me a better dad.

~~ I was literally scared-to-depression during the dark days of the divorce since I feared not seeing my boys EVERY day, as well as the fiscal impact . The process was as horrible as you can imagine and the waste of money involved was heartbreaking, especially now that I face seven years of college expenses.

~~ It was incredible to see my first-born’s first music performances and realizie that he’d found that LOVE we all seek. Since then, I’ve attended countless concerts of great artists with him and had the pride of seeing him perform in numerous others. The highlight – to date – was his chutzpah in talking himself on stage to play with his idol, Chris Cornell, at The Roxy on Sunset when he was just 16.

~~ Also during the dark days of the divorce, I was stunned by the lack of support from long-time friends and the insensitivity of casual friends from my boy’s school. It took its toll on me. The positive side was that it motivated my second career.

~~ I’ll end this list with my first-born’s turnaround. Without revealing the details, he went through a very bad period in which his schoolwork and everything suffered. He pulled himself out of that – with a little help from his friends and dad – and got himself accepted to The Berklee College of Music, where he’ll start his freshman year this fall. We will be doing a road trip together, from Los Angeles to Boston, partially sponsored by FORD, and I couldn’t be prouder!

Writing this list makes me realize this is fodder for my next book. Someone please remind me that this should be my next book – Things I’ve Loved and Learned Being a Dad. For now, I’d sure like to hear from you other dads with some of your high and low dad moments.

  • http://www.freelancewriter.co/ Harleena Singh

    Loved the post Bruce!

    It’s wonderful to see your kids with you and the other pictures just make the post so very interesting as well. 🙂

    You surely have gone through a great deal, but that’s what made you stronger and wiser I guess. And I am glad you had your boys with you, who you raised with so much of love and care. They must be so proud of their father. 🙂

    I know the wonders a father can do in the lives of their children, as I have seen my own dad raise both of us after my mom passed away. There can be nothing like the love of our parents, which cannot be compared to anything else in the world.Wishing you a very Happy Father’s Day well in advance. 🙂

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thx Harleena…it is so true that adversity makes us stronger IF we don’t allow it to overtake us!

  • http://felixrelationshipmarketing.com/ Juan Felix

    Hi Bruce ~ thanks for sharing your personal story as a father! I recognize many things, being a father of two extraordinary kids (a boy and a girl, Lex and Eline). The best thing of all is to watch and discover the uniqueness of these wonderful individuals. And just give them as much freedom as possible to be the person that they want to be. Life is a blessing! 🙂

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      You’re oh-so-right that “Life is a blessing!” and so is being a dad!

  • http://twitter.com/TeamRickiAmora Amora

    Oh my… This brought me to tears. I don’t have any children yet, but I’m a huge Daddy’s Girl and I look forward to the opportunity to give children to a man that will one day have similar feelings and experiences with our children. Happy Early Father’s Day! #FriendsOfRicki

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      TY Amora! What are you doing for your dad this Father’s Day?

  • http://twitter.com/CrossBetsy Betsy Cross

    Dad’s are so special! My dad never raised his voice, read a lot, brought me fishing, and taught me about forgiveness and unconditional love. He feels like he failed as a father. He says that all the time. I can’t convince him otherwise. I think his failed marriage made him feel like a failure all around. But from my perspective, he was a perfect dad for me.
    I now wonder how my dad coped when all of a sudden he wasn’t living with us anymore? I know he drank a lot. Maybe that’s why?

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I”m sure that’s why, Betsy. Men didn’t talk about those kind of feelings then…so sad because other men could’ve supported him through those difficult years! 

  • Mindytrotta

    Very admirable of you being able to edit out all the other memories you have. The Berklee School is a great place. Congratulations to your son! I am a relative newbie to Boston, but I’ve learned a lot about it in a short amount of time. (And I know personally know lots of students at TBS.) I’d be glad to answer any questions you or your son might have. Or find someone else who can. Just holler.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thx Mindy. It is amazing how we humans can block out the painful. If that were NOT the case, no woman would ever have a second child!

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  • http://twitter.com/craigery Craig Arthur

    Bruce, this post really brought me back to the point when my daughter was born and just made me realize how quickly time passes. It sucks! I wish time could just stand still forever with her, preferably not the crying with gas part.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Trust me Craig – that will pass and then YOU will have to deal with something MUCH WORSE!  Boys…

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  • http://brianvickery.com Brian Vickery

    As usual, I appreciate your candor and vulnerability in your blogging, Bruce. I loved the glimpse into several of your parenting milestones, and we will be sharing that “kids in college journey” together. In fact, I might see you in Denver as you start that journey to the East Coast.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I’m counting on that – sharing the journey and meeting in Denver, BV!

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  • Jetts31

    I can completely relate to a lot of what you learned and loved. It is amazing how quickly our kids grow up. Sometimes we need to stand back and reflect.  Best of luck to your son when he heads to Berklee and to you during that road trip 😉

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thx so much, Jimmy – hope you’ll come to #DadCha tonight in spite of the game – dvr it or you’ll just miss the first half!

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  • http://twitter.com/DabneyPorte Dabney Porte

    What a beautiful post Bruce! 

    As a mom ~ I share in many of your experiences.  Your divorce reality was also mine. LIke you, it was beyond painful telling the kids & a tear slipped down my cheek, recalling my moment as I read yours.  I

    n my world, friends were also insensitive and non-supportive and I recall feeling more responsible for their discomfort of my situation then they did form the pain my children, Mr Ex and I were going through.

    Get Bitter or Get Better.  Those were my two options.  Like you, I choose better and that led me to  where I am today.  

    Thanks so much for sharing so much of you with the world.  You make a difference and you matter to me and so many!

    Keep bringing  your brilliance to all!  xoxo

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thanks for sharing Dab. I can’t say there weren’t some bitter moments, including a big one now as I’m looking at VERY expensive tuition for college for OUR boys and my ex either lost or blew a 7-figure divorce settlement that could’ve helped OUR kids with college! Makes me crazy to think about it. She didn’t spend it – she either gave it away or was swindled out of it – we’re not sure!

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/raisethequeen Susan Kay Wyatt

    Love reading your posts Bruce!  Have a great Fathers Day Weekend!  Watching the video as I type this.  Sweeeeet!  Life is rich and beautifiul in layers of ways.  As for the Wyatt Family, our 16th wedding anniversary was Thursday, ELizabeth’s 11th Birthday is Saturday and Sunday of course is all about DADS!  It is one of the busiest emotional weeks of the year around here.  So much to celebrate!  Keep sharing and we’ll keep reading.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Sounds like a GREAT week, Susan! Xoxo…

  • David Weber

    Of all the columns of yours I have read, and I think I have read all of your writings, this one comes to mind as my favorite!  Very good stuff–very personal, very touching, very honest, very much your own voice.  This column was very enjoyable and meaningful.  I was especially interested in the passage about YOUR enjoyment of your parents’ enjoyment of their time with your sons.  That’s not something one reads about often.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Wow, David! Given you’ve read more of my writing than ANYONE, that means a great deal. Thank you so much!