Fred Hartman

With Father’s Day on Sunday, it’s impossible not to get autobiographical and nostalgic this week.

Dads mean the world to their children for so many reasons, and our household was no exception when my brother Lee, sister Lizz and I were growing up.

We have great memories with our dad Bill, and there’s no doubt he’s been a tremendous influence on who we are today. He knew (and still knows) how to push our buttons when he needed to, and could inspire confidence in us just by looking at us.

Conversely, he could also give us a look that told us we were in big trouble, but fortunately, that didn’t happen too often.

My dad also did fatherhood a bit differently than me. He was 23 when I arrived in 1965, and had three kids by the time he was 28. There was nothing unusual about that.

In contrast, I was 47 when my wife Laura gave birth to our twins, Blake and Julia, in 2012. Even though I’ll be a senior citizen when they graduate from high school, my life hasn’t been the same since and I’m continuing to experience the biggest blessings of my life.

Becoming a dad made me feel like I was connected to something much bigger than myself — an expanded circle of unconditional love.

My favorite Father’s Day memory was in 2013. I was in awe because it was my first one, and it was like waking up on Christmas Day as a kid, but better.

Being a good father might be the most important thing a man can do, and it’s a huge, but rewarding responsibility. None of us are perfect and we all make our share of mistakes, but we must forge ahead and keep doing the best we can.

In less than seven years, I’ve gone from having two kids in the neo-natal intensive care unit for the first eight and five weeks of their lives, respectively, to watching them become completely healthy and now about to become first graders.

In such a short time, we’ve gone from Blake and Julia coming home from the hospital to changing their diapers, watching them crawl and walk, learning to talk, being potty-trained, learning to read and developing a sense of humor. It seems like a miracle.

They also do things all the time that make me laugh. This week, Laura reminded the kids in front of me that it was going to be Father’s Day.

“And we haven’t made you anything,” Blake said to me with a sarcastic smile. I said he must have gotten that from his mom.

Laura has done many great things raising the kids, but one thing I can take credit for is they love sports. So far, they’ve played golf, soccer, basketball, baseball and gymnastics (do you play gymnastics?).

But what I love is my 6 year olds can talk to me about the Astros or professional golf like they’re experts.

When their mom told Blake and Julia they needed to go to bed instead of continuing to watch the NBA Finals with me this week, I had to overrule her...at least until halftime.

That’s what my dad would’ve done.

Our family certainly isn’t unique. Most of us probably agree that even though we live with our kids every day, it seems like time flies when we look backward.

Perhaps the most important lesson is all of our lives are a miracle and we should feel grateful about our families every day. All it takes is one look into your child’s eyes to remember that.

Reach Fred Hartman at fbh@hartmannews.com.

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