me and dad

Today I just finished reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. One of the later chapters entitled “Make Your Partner a Real Partner” really got me thinking about what an impact my father had on my personal and professional life as I grew up.

Sheryl writes “Studies from around the world have concluded that children benefit greatly from paternal involvement. Research over the last forty years has consistently found that in comparison to children with less involved fathers, children with involved and loving father have higher levels of psychological well being and better cognitive abilities…their children tend to be more empathetic and socially competent” (113). As I read this paragraph I reminisced in my elementary school days.

I don’t think there was one day in the week that my dad didn’t take me outside to either throw a softball, play some basketball or build a snowman. He and my mom split roles in my life…my mother was an active participant in pushing me educationally and my father physically. My mom was the one making me cry because I couldn’t learn to subtract in second grade…and my dad was the assistant coach pulling me out of the softball game because I couldn’t catch a fly ball. Both of them knew their very important roles in my life, but both taught me very different and important lessons.

My father was never absent, though he worked hard daily, he always found time to dedicate to me when he got home from work. Every weekend he walked me to the park, though sometimes I did hate it. I hated when he forced me to shoot foul shot after foul shot and corrected every mistake that I made…I hated it when I wanted to walk away from the sport and he decided to become my basketball coach to show me that I could do it…and of course push me harder. He never once let me settle for second best. Even if we won our softball game by a landslide, he would credit my home run, but remind me that I need to fix my batting stance or else I will strike out next time. When I was young, I never realized that my father was teaching me endurance, perseverance and strength, instead I thought he was just being mean. Now when I look back on these moments, I regret never thanking him for teaching me that I should NEVER settle for second best.

When I was growing up, everyone saw me as weak…I was scared of spiders, I would run away and cry whenever a situation was tough. I was definitely a cry baby and was extremely gullible. I am not afraid to say that I was picked on by everyone, to include my close family. It was my dad that forced me to “woman up” and grow up. When I Was in middle school, my dad’s past as a judo fighter provoked him and my mother to enroll me in tae kwon do. I remember being so scared to start karate as a white belt…I was mostly scared of making it to green belt and having to start sparring. Never, ever did I think I could do it. My dad told me I could, and he would remind me that he would be there with me every step of the way. Three years later, I was a black belt and an assistant instructor.

Today, I am an executive officer of a Headquarters and Headquarters Engineer Company. I am Lieutenant in the United States Army and I remind myself every day to remain unafraid of what stands ahead of me. I remind myself that my dad taught me that I should NEVER settle for less than being the best. This post goes out to my father, who never grew tired of teaching me that I could always achieve more than I thought possible, who never gave up on me, and who told me to stand up and quit crying…the same man who told me that I would be great and that my future was endless.

Thank you dad, for always believing in me. GIRLS IN GREEN, I challenge you as does Sheryl Sandberg to find a partner who compliments you and engages your children in their future…I challenge you to find someone like my father, who never grew tired of teaching me the definition of greatness.