John Wayne + Thor = Dad

In everyone’s life, there are moments that leave us forever changed. The ones most of us share involve the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus. They are usually moments that hurl us from the cusp of childhood into an in between – not quite young adult but DEFINITELY not adult. The most life-changing realization for me was when I discovered that my dad was, in fact, human.

Let me start by saying that I am a stereotype – I’ve always been a Daddy’s Girl. He’s my friend, my buddy, my pal. He’s my confidant, my sounding board, my kick-in-the-butt-when-I-need-it deliverer (don’t judge my grammar right now – that’s not why we’re here…). He always seemed invincible. To the childhood me, he was an actual super hero – the strongest, toughest man ever. It’s like if John Wayne and Thor had a brother, that would be my dad.

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Growing up, my dad always made us stack wood. He could be frequently found running the wood splitter. When that thing kicked in, we all made a unanimous groan of dismay. One day, I heard the splitter and cringed as I REALLY hoped he wouldn’t come get me to work with him. A short time later, the splitter stopped and my dad was nowhere to be found. Apparently, he broke(?) his wrist when it became caught between the splitter and a piece of wood. Immediately after it happened, he knew he wasn’t going to be able to “walk it off” (his favorite piece of advice to us…) so he drove himself to the hospital. See. Super tough, right? Nothing could hurt him.

Unfortunately, as it will do, time had a way of cracking my safe bubble and thrusting me into reality. I saw my dad get hurt which was really weird for me. In comic books, when Superman or Thor would get hurt and the worst was assumed but the next issue would clear things up and we would see that their powers saved them. Even John Wayne could always find his way out of a nasty situation. (Except for in “The Shootist” and “The Cowboys”. We don’t talk about those.) I just always assumed the same thing would happen for my dad.

And unfortunately, as it will do, time changes things and people. It moves things in unexpected directions. We are expected to recalibrate, adjust, and move on. For an adult, it can be difficult. For a child, it’s dang near impossible.

When I turned 13, I knew the absolute truth – my dad was a human being. It freaked me the heck out. How could this have happened? Where was the infallible Superman I always knew? I was very unsettled but my dad, the human, seemed to know what to do. He laughed at my jokes – even when the were lame. He encouraged my dreams – even when they were foolish. He supported my choices – even when they were the stupidest decisions ever. He loved me – even when I was not very lovable. He became one of my most favorite humans…and still is. The most amazing thing happened, I realized that he was treating me like a human, like an equal. It turned out being human wasn’t so bad.

In spite of my caustic-smart alecky-sarcastic-sometimes brutal-self, he still doesn’t mind when I’m around. I think he’s actually one of my biggest fans. I mean, who could blame him? I AM pretty awesome. What is probably the most surprising thing is that even when I was a bratty little kid, he loved me and liked me. When I was a moody-goth-“woe is me”- preteen, he loved me and still liked me. When I was an antagonistic teen, he loved me and actually liked me…while dreaming of whopping my hind end.

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What it boils down to is this: dads are human and that’s okay. If you’re just discovering this truth, take a cleansing breath, have a good cry, and straighten your spine. It’s all good. The way I see it, not all superheroes are from another world with super powers. I mean, Batman doesn’t have any superpowers. He IS pretty rich and can just buy power, but we won’t get into that.

Let your dad be human. Let him make mistakes. Basically, let him be himself the way he does for you. If your dad has even 1/10 of the awesomeness mine does, cape or no cape, matching shirts or not, you’re pretty dang lucky.

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What’s that? You want to know what I meant about the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus? I may need some help with that…Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaddddd!

 

 

 

 

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What My Dad Taught Me About Being A Strong Woman

Confused? Some reflection on childhood memories made me realize that my dad actually taught me some good lessons on how to be a strong woman. And, come on, if you really do know my dad then you know that there is always a lesson to be learned in EVERYTHING.

“Walk it off”

My siblings and I joke a lot about my Dad’s usual advice to walk it off. One time my youngest sister didn’t seek his advice and just assumed she’d get the same counsel as usual. Unfortunately, she was wrong and had actually pulled a muscle.

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For the most part, the words of wisdom ring true. Too often we whine and complain. Contrary to popular belief, women are NOT the weaker sex. We are not men but we are strong in our own right. I’ve watched some coddle and pamper (to the extreme and not the sweet way) their daughters to the point that their girls don’t realize it’s okay to toughen up. My dad could never be accused of babying us (may not sound like a compliment but it is).

“Life is tough. It’s tougher if you’re stupid.”

Okay. He stole this one from John Wayne but it still rings true. Let’s face it. We are ALL gonna be stupid from time to time.

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The important thing is to learn from our mistakes and move on. No matter how entertaining it is for everyone else, you’re only truly stupid if you keep repeating them.

“I don’t care if it’s 6 am on Saturday. There’s work to be done.”

My dad taught me the value of hard work. He also taught me to REALLY appreciate sleeping in on Saturday mornings.

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Every Saturday, he would wake us up, feed us breakfast, and put us to work. If we’re being honest, we live in a world where women still don’t quite get equal pay as men. Sometimes we have to work a little harder to prove ourselves. The best way to do that is to work hard and work well.

“Go ahead and cry. Once those tears are gone, move on.”

I have the tendency to hold on to things – to let them fester. We are all going to be hurt (physically or emotionally).There is a good chance that someone is going to do you wrong. It’s okay to get mad, sad, devastated or whatever. Take the moment you need, yell, swear (a lot if necessary), cry but after that, move on. Do not let someone else’s actions dictate how you live the rest of your life.

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“I love you.”

We need the words. We need to hear them and we need to say them. In a world where hate is prevalent, deceit is around every corner, and there are more jerk-wads than you could shake a stick at, we really need to know who loves us. There is something truly powerful about being loved and knowing it. Love doesn’t make you weak.

Oh…and a bit of advice from me. If someone you love tells you that they love you, please don’t pull a Han Solo.

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(If you don’t understand the reference, we need to reevaluate our friendship.)

“You’re a survivor.”

At a very turbulent time in my life, my dad said those words to me. First, I thought he was off his rocker (more than usual). Then I realized something. I am a survivor because I am smart enough to know when to lean on others. Being strong doesn’t mean you don’t ever ask for help. Being strong means knowing it’s okay to need help to go on. We survive because we know how to best utilize our resources.

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My dad is one of my best resources. He always believes in me, pushes me. He is always there when I need advice. Even though I’m well into adulthood (ask me my age and I’ll ask you your weight…), I still need him. He’s my friend…my burly, sarcastic, lovable, forgetful, buzzcut-wearing friend. I know some of my friends have dads who have passed on. I bet every single one of them could tell you lessons their dads taught them about being a strong woman. Some friends never had a dad in their lives. I bet every single one of them had some sort of a father-figure who taught them about being a strong woman. For those of us who still have our dads around, be sure to let them know how awesome they are.

I love you, Dad. You’re pretty awesome. Each night I thank Heavenly Father he placed me in your care. I wish we lived closer and that our conversations were face-to-face and not over the phone, but I will take what I can get. Wear your Father’s Day present proudly and think of me when you do.

If you’re curious what I bought him, see the picture below. (Yep. I’m a pretty awesome daughter.)

yoda best