An Ode to My father: The Three Greatest Lessons I Learned From Dad

As I venture through young-adulthood and start to see my parents as individual human beings instead of just good ole ‘mum and dad,’ I’ve gained a new appreciation for the lessons each of them has ingrained in my being.

 While these lessons are explained through my fondest memories, I’m one of the fortunate people whose dad is still here; happy, healthy and as energetic as ever. For the first time in my life, however, I’m living in a different city than him. It’s safe to say that this distance has me reflecting on all the lessons my old man has taught me. Since it’s Father’s Day, I thought I’d share the three most important lessons I learned from my dad.

Take up the space you need to take up – and let others do the same.

Home was a barefoot-in-the-backyard, crazy-creative kind of place where my sister and I were encouraged to speak loudly, laugh often and sing wildly. Indoor voices didn’t exist, and the house felt eerily quiet if there wasn’t any music on. I knew the words to every Tragically Hip song before I knew who all the Disney Princesses were. At eight years old, I knew how to operate a ride-on lawnmower better than I could ride a bike (this one is actually still true).

 Whatever we wanted to do, dad helped us make it happen. He helped us build an epic two-story treehouse in the front yard and taught us how to keep our Barbies afloat while sailing them around in the ditch. We were expected to get dirty, live intensely and play to our imagination’s content. Dad let us take up the space we needed to take up, to be as much our true selves as we could. By simply allowing me to be myself, he taught me the importance of being authentic to who I am. This has taught me to let others take up their own space as well, to let others be exactly who they are. In my opinion, that’s the most significant teaching any human can share with another.

Don’t  half-ass anything.

My dad has always taught me that if I’m going to do anything, to do it full-throttle. While my mum might call this quality ‘a little over the top,’ it’s the thing I appreciate most about my dad. For example, our house was always the one with arguably too many Christmas lights up. My parents actually won an award for this one year. When we vacationed in Florida, dad insisted we drove all the way there to get the full experience, which included a flat tire on the side of I-95 and 25 hours of listening to my sister complain about feeling carsick.

 While I’m sure he doesn’t always agree with my decisions, he taught me to make sure I give everything 110 percent. From breaking up with boys to moving to a new city with just one suitcase, dad taught me that giving everything my everything indeed pays off.

Stay goofy and you’ll stay young forever.

My dad treats every family dinner like it’s the stage for his own personal stand-up comedy skit. Every story has a punchline and every character is perfectly animated. As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned that this is my dad’s way of venting, of letting go of his day and clearing his mind so he can enjoy life.

 Of course, dad also taught me that severe things need to be taken seriously. My sister and I weren’t always angels as kids (she spray-painted the F-word onto a mailbox when she was about five years old, but that’s another story). We did our fair share of dumb stuff and you better believe we got in trouble for it. However, when the dust settled and the one-week grounding expired, dad was always the first one to make a joke of the whole ordeal. I learned that finding humour in all situations frees up our emotional and mental space so we can fill it with things that make us happy. To let go of my ego and laugh at myself will always be the biggest lesson of all.

 To take up space, to half-ass nothing, and to see the humour in all situations is what keeps our minds and bodies young. When we find the relaxing things that make us feel good, like playing hockey three times a week, which my dad still does at 52-years-old, our attitudes stay light and our souls remain energized. It’s the small goofy things, like drumming every single song on the steering wheel, that keep us young. I’m sure these lessons are the secrets to my dad’s full head of hair and wrinkle-less face today. To age as gracefully – and have the laugh lines he has – would be one of the highest honours. 

 Having a father who raised his daughters the same way he would’ve raised sons is incredibly lucky. So here’s to you, dad, for teaching me life’s big lessons with the utmost grace, humour, and enthusiasm. Happy Fathers Day.

 Xx

Jane

 What lessons have you learned from the father-figure in your life? Let us know in the comments!