My Father’s Daughter

When I'm at my best, I am my father's daughter.

I have been blessed to know some amazing dads in my lifetime- some whose families I was born into and others to whose families I was invited.

I am forever grateful for my dad, Mark Bredin, whose love and loyal support and constant prayer means so much to me each and every day. I love you, Dad. I am glad I live close enough to visit you often. Thank you for being my dad.

Forever grateful as well for two amazing grandfather’s who were also dads themselves. Grampies have the amazing gift of loving on their grandkids like no other adult figure can. Theirs’ is the role of just pure joyful affection, minus all the hard work of child-rearing, disciplining, care-giving, chauffeuring and all the other mundane things parents have to do that complicates life so much. Grandparents are such special people, and I am so grateful for my two wonderful grampies, Mark Bredin Senior and Charles MacLean. While they now live in Heaven, I take comfort in knowing that I will someday see them both again.

I am so honored as well to have been invited to be part of a family filled with wonderful dads. When Brian Gard asked me to marry him nineteen years ago, little did I know how much I would come to admire and appreciate his relationship with his dad, Harold Gard. Brian’s relationship with his dad was so close and connected all through the years. Harold was Brian’s mentor and best friend. And so, I learned a lot about a father’s love for his son by watching Brian and his dad interact over the years. We have missed Harold’s presence tremendously this Father’s Day 2015. Someday soon, we will meet again, Grampie Gard…someday soon.

And then there’s my Husband Brian. Dad to four beautiful children. The man for whom we celebrate every Father’s Day with a full-course breakfast meal… just because he deserves it. How do I begin talking about the best father for her children a woman could ever dream of asking for? Brian is patient and kind and thoughtful and involved. I cannot thank him enough for being so perfect for the role God gave him in our lives: our Daddy.

But when I think about fathers and Father’s Day and that constant One to whom I know will never cease to abide with me. Who will always fight for me. Stay by me. Holding me, eternally: I can’t help but say thank you from a grateful heart to the Father I know who is above all. For my Father is this:

Always faithful.
Always true.
Always kind.
Always loving.
Always patient.
Always available.
Always just.
Always there.

Perfect.

And it is my desire in this life to be just like my Father- as close as a girl could come. Walking in His shadow so as to reflect the image I see. Emulating the One who loves me best. Loving others in some of the very same ways that He loves me.

Because truly when I am at my best, I am my Father’s daughter.

I always will be His daughter.

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On Father’s Day: For Those With Hearts Breaking

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We pound pavement in the fading light of day. I struggle to keep step with his manly gait, his earnest stride. This is the time of evening when my fatigue catches up with me. Softly, the wind blows unruly tendrils of hair across my cheeks, and I stop to wrap my jacket around my waist- I over dressed this evening in case a chill came without warning. But instead of shivers, balmy summer sun penetrates through to my skin, warming me. I watch the road intently for cars that might not be watching as carefully as I.
While we walk, I wrack my brain to come up with something of import to say.
“What will we do for Father’s Day this year?” I ask rather suddenly.
It is valid question for those finding themselves within the week of this significant holiday. A question that begs to be asked. But when your heart is still tender from breaking, and there have merely been two weeks passed since you said last goodbyes to your own Dad, this question can leave one feeling startled by fresh tears.
There will never be a Father’s Day the same again for us. Not ever. Quite honestly, the world is now forever changed. How do you do things when the one you formerly did them for/with/to is forever gone? Can a holiday still be commemorated even when the one for whom it was meant is no longer present?
We walk and talk. Shed some tears.
And I wonder and imagine while he walks quietly.
All the while, I still hold out hope. There is always hope.
Hope for another day. Another moment. Another slice of life.
And there is still room to celebrate even in the midst of sorrow. Still room for joy expressed over a life lived with grace and love and courage and faithfulness and tenderness and loyalty and gentleness, even when the remembering brings tears. There is still room to honour a father’s influence even in his physical absence. There is still room in which to cry and laugh.
There is still room in our hearts and there always will be.
There is not a day goes by that our hearts are not moved by his memory.
We sit down by the river for a spell. We are motionless, save for the occasional slapping of a mosquito here and there. Below my feet, there are schools of tiny fish curiously weaving their way around a wooded slat. They know naught of what the worlds above them experience with loss and pain and sorrow. Farther down the river, two ducks paddle off while a heron takes flight. The natural world around us has a rhythm all its own. Everywhere is peace and quiet.
I am reminded to be still. And so I am.
Later, as we make our ascent back to the road, I am further reminded that life too must resume. But our memories of what really matters are never far from our hearts. We return to these places and spaces often so as to remember. To recall and evoke the images in our minds of those we love.
We never forget.
This Sunday is Father’s Day. And while it will be different this year, there will still be a celebration- a commemoration of all that we have been given by way of legacy, heritage, history and connection. A calling to remembrance of and for our fathers. Our cherished memories are ours to keep and treasure for a lifetime.
Our loved ones might be physically gone: but they will never be forgotten.
May all those whose hearts are breaking this Father’s Day find comfort in the knowledge that their Dad is always present in their memory.

Our fathers will forever live on- in and through- our remembrances of them.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Dads (who have to be moms too)


You can read this article again at the Huffington Post Canada.

Paul Bradbury via Getty Images

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day we traditionally honour and celebrate the mothers in our lives. Moms, grandmoms, great-grandmothers, step-mothers, adopted moms, surrogate mothers, mothers-to-be: they all get at the very least a nod of appreciation (if not a full-out display of love and affection).

So they should, of course. But I have been thinking more and more of the unofficial ‘mothers‘ who never get recognized on Mother’s Day, and I’m talking about the dads.

This is not to say that dads are mothers in the truest sense of the word. They will always be first and foremost a father — and as such, will always place most importance overall on their interactions with their kids as it concerns their being a father. But for some families, particularly for those who have lost a mother due to death or separation or some other form of difficulty, dads are playing both parental roles to the best of their ability.

Let me pause to say that I also recognize women do these very same things (act in dual parental roles), but let me save that blog article for Father’s Day when I recognize mothers.

Back to the fathers. These guys are moms to their kids, all while they are still being that incredible father they always were. I can think of one such dad close to our own family’s heart who lives this reality. He is currently dad and mom to his girls (girls who are still needing his love and attention in both a maternal and paternal way), as well as he is doing what his girls’ mom formerly did for them prior to her death.

As I watch the various dads I am coming to know and truly appreciate, many of whom have lost wives to cancer, I can’t help but observe the grace with which they have handled the passing on of their spouse. I am amazed and humbled to see that being a mother has been added to their job description. In true motherly-form, they are willing to do what it takes to be there for their kids.

What a legacy they leave for their beautiful families.

These guys are doing things they never use to do (as per the varied division of labour that occurs in any given family), and they are doing some of the things that Mom only once did. And playing these dual roles, solo; without the benefit of another partner to complement their parenting.

Things like being that sole parent there when their kids get home from school.
Things like planning birthday parties, attending festival performances and watching shows they aren’t accustomed to watching.
Things like attending meetings, appointments and practices without the advantage of tag-teaming with their other parenting counterpart.
Things like letting their kids know it is okay to cry — because they do too.
Things like arranging work schedules around their children.
Things like brushing hair and putting up ponytails.
Things like being that soft, warm place their kids can fall when life gets rough — because kids need this sometimes.

Are these aspects of parenting solely mom’s domain? Of course they are not. Surely, there are fathers out there who take charge in all these areas at the best of times, freeing up their wives to do other just as important parental tasks. But for those dads who NEVER had to take leadership in some of these areas before (or weren’t quite comfortable assuming this predefined role), this is new territory for them. These are unchartered waters.

And the fact that they are doing these new tasks solo is what endears them to me, a mother myself.

Rather than being criticized, these dads need to hear the words that they are doing an amazing job at parenting their children — playing the role of both partners in the absence of their female counterparts.

To all the dad-moms out there: “I know Father’s Day is coming up, but it is never too early to say that we appreciate you. As moms, we support you. You are doing an absolutely fabulous job at being there for your kids. Keep on keeping on, Dad. You make us all proud to be a parent.”

Happy Sunday to one and all — mothers, fathers or otherwise. And for all those dads out there who are both dad and mom: “you’ve got this, man.”

We’re all rooting for you.

This one is for the boys… (MEN)

I heard from a man-friend of mine tonight that I don’t really write with a male audience in mind. So this one’s (mostly) for the boys.
For the men.
I want to write about everyday heroes. Because tonight in West Prince, where I live with my family of six, there are some men (and yes, women too) on call all night long with our local volunteer fire department ready to rush out at a moment’s notice to put out fires that immature, thoughtless pranksters lit with no consideration to the everyday heroes that would have to put them out. Men (and yes, women) who have a day job. Men and women who will stay up all night- on call and many of those hours on the job fighting fierce winds and fires), only to get up in the morning to head off to their day job. Because being a hero doesn’t always pay the bills. Funny about that.
I want to write about the men that are everyday heroes in so many ways. The men in my circle of friends that took the time tonight to take their kiddos out trick-or-treating. You men are amazing. You drove your kids in and out of fifty-bazillion driveways just so that they could run around your house before bedtime like crazed zombies on sugar highs. And you did it because you care. Because you’re everyday heroes.
I want to write about the dads that made their child’s costumes this year. I know of one child, a friend of the family’s, whose Dad made her a minion costume. That dad rocks. He’s my hero. I am a mom- I don’t have time for that stuff. But dads do.
I want to write about everyday heroes- dads that let their kids crash in their beds tonight because they’re scared of boogie monsters and goblins and ghosts and who knows what else. Dads that are willing to give up a good night’s sleep so that their child can rest easy- assured that they are safe and protected. Real dads do this stuff all the time. I know. I am married to one.
I want to write about everyday heroes. Men that build things for their kids. Men that show up for soccer games, hockey practices, piano recitals. I want to write about the dads that pack lunches for their kids. According to very particular specifications, in certain cases. These dads know who likes mayo and who likes mustard. They’re everyday heroes.
I want to write about the dads that commute to work over long distances to make ends meet. I want to write about the dads that take paternal leave. Those dads that are stay-at-home dads. You guys…all of you: you knock my socks off. I am so blessed by these dads. Thanks for making the sacrifice.
You are everyday heroes.
My kids go to bed every night knowing their dad is going to read them a bedtime story and say their prayers with them before their head hits the pillow. They know that if they needed him in the night- he’s there. They know that when they wake up in the morning, they’ll find him in the kitchen, making breakfast. They know that on the weekends, he’ll be chopping wood so that we have a warm, cozy house this winter. And they know that if they ever need strong arms to hold and care, his are always ready.
This one’s for the dads- you are unsung heroes and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Thanks for everything.

On Being Good…

If you are wondering, you probably don’t have to worry.  You are doing just fine.  In fact, you are doing better than fine.  You’re rocking this gig. Trust your instincts.  Believe in yourself.  You’re a great Mama.

I get impatient with people who make comments about parents saying things like, “I think they are a good mother, good father, good parent” and then qualify it with what they do or say. Really?  Because if we are making comments about anyone with kids who is even trying (we’re not going to even open the can of worms that discusses what they are doing and that crazy comparison game)… then in my books- they are doing enough to be a good parent.  Not too many parents that I know wake up in the morning contemplating being bad parents for the day.  Not too many do their best to make life miserable for their kids.  The overwhelming majority make the effort to feed, clothe and clean their kids.  Good parents make the effort.

And that’s more than enough to get you through the day.

I overheard some mothers recently, talking about not being the world’s best mother because they hadn’t done one thing or the other that they thought, I guess, the World’s Best Mother might do.  Whatever that might be.  And I couldn’t help but think that when we start making it hard for ourselves, we start finding the ginormous responsibility that is our parenting job HARD.  And that much harder to live up to.  We need to stop holding ourselves to these too high standards.  Cut ourselves some slack, people!  Being a parent is already tough enough than also adding to the mix the further commitment of being the BEST.  Being the best is not all it’s cracked up to be.  You can’t take a break. You can’t let your guard down.  You can NEVER slack off.  So here is my response to parents that feel they have to be the World’s Best Parent:

There will always be somebody better than you at this.  So stop trying so hard.  Release the burden of being the best.  And just settle for being good.

Good is more than enough.

Think of it.  Think of all the things we say are good.  Martha Stewart has devoted an entire section in her semi-successful magazine to things she deems to be “good”.  If it’s good enough for Martha, it’s good enough for me (please dismiss the fact that she ended up in jail.  I never said she was perfect.  I just said she endorsed being “good”- as in “good enough”.)

I have said this before but this little bit of advice that came to me from a very dear friend of mine, and it has stuck with me over the years- and here it is: “If you have taken the time to even thoughtfully consider your parenting in any way- to reflect on it, to care about it, to make time for it in your already jam-packed, crazy-busy day: chances are, you are a good mama (dad).

And if that’s enough for my dear friend and the multitude of other parents out there who follow suit, then it’s more than good enough for me.

And in the words of another good-enough mama, Glennon Melton: carry on, warriors! ‘Cause it’s a battle out there…