I thought of something the other day that made me both happy and sad.
I pictured myself, young and small, sitting on my father’s shoulders as we walked around the house before bed. As we passed from room to room, he’d duck under doorframes singing, “there she was, just a walkin’ down the street singin’ do-wa-diddy-diddy-dum-diddy-do.” For my siblings and I, this was the best part of our day and something that we have each personally held onto in the years that followed. This memory has always made me so happy, but somewhere along the way I began to think about the fact that one day he put each of us down for bed and never picked us back up for a walk around the house again.
In the years since, my father has found other ways to pick each of us up. He’s been a supporter at events, games, and shows. He’s been a friend to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, and the support beam under which our whole family resides. Where there was once song before bed there is now talks about our futures, shared memories, and many laughs. As children, our fathers are a figure to look upon for guidance, and a hero that inspires us everyday.
And, as we get older – if we’re lucky – our fathers remain those things. But the biggest perk of growing up is that they grow too, into our best friends.
There are times when I take my dad for granted, and when I forget how much he does for me. I’ll catch myself forgetting to say thank you, ignoring a typical Dad joke or rolling my eyes at something that was meant to make me smile. Years later, he is still always trying to pick us up in one-way or another. I find myself wishing for ways that I could pick him up and hoist him over my shoulders in order to make his day-to-day life feel just a little bit lighter. As the kid, it feels as though we can never make anything up to the one who has given us everything. We cannot give them back the time that they have spent helping us grow and we cannot repay them for all of the life that they have given us. But we can make all of this worthwhile. We can let our fathers watch us grow, and include them in our lives.
So when Dad asks about your day, give him more than just a simple “good” or “fine.” Don’t blush and roll your eyes when he asks about your social or love life – a father that wants what’s best for you cares about that stuff just as much as you do, and isn’t trying to embarrass you by asking. He was your age once too and, while you may give him gray hairs at times, you also keep him young. So, while you may not literally be able to carry your father on your shoulders, one of the best pick-me-ups that you could offer him is the opportunity to be a part of the world that he helped you build.