Updated: Dec 31, 2019
On the eve of Father’s Day, before I leave, my daughter’s gift to me.
On Mother’s Day I saw a video posted in my school group. Before I could see the video I saw messages praising it and ‘how touching it was’. I was curious about it.
I saw it and I was touched by it. But the difference was in the way it touched me vs the way it touched others. Everyone raved about the mother, her strife and her repeated phrase, NO CHARGE. I was touched that the young boy was reduced to tears. And I was touched that he cried when he shouldn’t have.
The gist of the video is as follows:
A young boy goes up to his mother and hands over a ‘bill’ for services rendered. These are mundane things like taking the garbage out, mowing the lawn, doing the dishes etc.
The mother in turn produces her own bill of services rendered and hands it over to the son.
For carrying him for 9 months or more – no charge
For staying up nights when he was unwell – no charge
For all the costs of bringing him up and wiping your nose – no charge
The child looks at this list of things the mother has done for him and is reduced to tears. The mother smiles at her triumph, the child continues to cry. And I am moved even today at his tears. I was angry at the mother’s attitude. I spoke my mind out and those that heard me thought I spoke of some bitter personal experience. But the truth is today I am a father and it’s the father in me that felt angry. I thought it best to put my thoughts in words to express to my daughter what I want to say.
I am a father and I have a daughter who means the world to me. On Father’s Day this is what I would say to her.
Father’s Day 2016
Subject: I owe you so much
In life you hear others say that they owe many things to their parents. I want you to know you owe me nothing. Here are some of the things that you will hear and here is what I think about these issues. Your mother too contributed and perhaps her contribution is greater than mine. Nevertheless, this is what I remember and this is what I feel.
The service: staying up late at night when you cried and couldn’t sleep; you were not even able to sit up on your own.
My payment: when you fell asleep in my arms, I would hold you close to me so that you would feel secure. When I viewed your tiny eyes closed and lost in sleep, I felt complete and I felt warm. For this feeling I owe you.
The service: trying to feed you when you refused to eat. You would refuse food and almost needed to be force-fed. Sometimes I had to dance, sometimes I had to walk around the house with you in my arms.
My payment: when you ate and smiled, I knew you were content. The smile made me forget everything, the pain of the day gone by, the trials at work and the trudge home. My fatigue left me and I felt alive. For this I owe you.
The service: changing your diapers when you soiled them. You would cry until the diaper was removed. It didn’t matter what I was doing, sometimes even when I was eating. I would let go of my food to first tend to you. I did but a fraction of what your mother did, but I did too.
My payment: when I undid the diaper, your crying would reduce to a whimper. I would gently clean you with warm water and you would stop crying. As I put on a new diaper you smiled and gurgled. You would raise your arms asking me to hug you and hold you. And when I did, you gave me the warmest hug I could ever get. For this I owe you.
The service: arriving home from work, tired, exhausted and then you asking me to take you to the park to play on the swing. I didn’t want to and tried to convince you to go the next day but you held my hand saying “please let’s go dad”.
My payment: the feeling of being led by your small hands is still the best feeling in the world. In the park you would lead me to the swing and I would help you get on to it. I would be careful in pushing you and you always wanted me to push you higher. Your laughter would echo in the park. My tired shoulders would no longer feel the day’s burden. I smiled like the world belonged to me. You would hold my hand and proudly walk me through the park. For the feeling of being the king of the world, I owe you.
Today you are a young lady and at every turn in life you make me proud. I am proud when I take you to school, proud when I pick you up, proud to attend the parent teacher meeting and proud to be known as your father. How then can I ever repay you in this life or the next?
I want you to live your life not be a prisoner of my dreams. You should make and live your own dreams.
I want you to know life, the world and experience all of it yourself. I don’t want you to know it second-hand from me.
When you make mistakes, and I know you will, you should know your father is there for you. I will always be your safety net to catch you if you fall. I will not be the shackles that bind you.
I will not remind you of anything I did for you because I did out of love not out of expectation that it will be one day repaid.
When you do cherish what I did, I do and what I will do, I will acknowledge them with a smile on my lips and tears in my eyes. The smile is for seeing you happy and the tears are because I am happy. But even if you don’t I will still love you because that’s what fathers should always do.
On this day and forever, I want you to know that your father loves you. I don’t know about other father’s but I am sure they are this way too.
With love and gratitude,
Here is my gift to you this day https://youtu.be/ATgzmllrDdY