Father’s Day: Things I’ve Loved and Learned as a Dad

A Dad's Point of View by Bruce SallanNow that my first-born is going to college, passed his 18th birthday milestone, and I’ve been a dad for nearly two decades, it’s time with this Father’s Day to reflect on some highs and lows of my dad-journey! Without a doubt, being a dad has been the highlight of my life. Granted, walking on the grounds of Wimbledon and seeing The Stones are also high on my list, but those fit more in the fun category of life and are fleeting in nature. Being a dad, as the title of this column implies, is a more enduring and challenging experience!
A great part of the journey of parenting, for me, has been the things that have made me stronger and, possibly, better not only as a parent but also as a person. Without a doubt, I’m a better husband this second time around due to the trials and tribulations of parenthood.
The list below will alternate between positive and, let’s say, not so positive experiences. They are in NO order of importance other than what came to mind first while writing this column. That may actually reflect some priority but given how random my thinking is, I doubt it. So, Happy Father’s Day dads:
  • I absolutely died watching my boys being born. Both births were very quick so the drama that many parents endure – and that is the correct word – was thankfully not present for my boys’ mother. But, the joy was there for both of us.
  • My first-born had colic. He didn’t sleep for three months. Neither did we.
  • Making my second child. Yeah, I take full responsibility for both helping conceive him and making it all happen. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say that his mother wasn’t one of those women who kept exact track of the optimum fertile time of the month. I took on that job. When that optimum time occurred, I flew in from being on location in Canada, for the weekend, and helped make son number two.
  • After my boys were born, going to work every day was a bitch. I hated it. I wanted to be home. I’d waited so long to finally become a dad that work no longer held me in its thrall. Thank goodness, I was finally able to quit and take on the full-time parent job!
  • Getting the lack of support I experienced during those first few years of doing the dad thing was dispiriting. My boys were not yet in elementary school. One was at a pre-school while the other was at home. The pre-school moms did not include me in most of their activities. That hurt, not because I cared to be with them, but because I cared that my son got invited and included.
  • The once-a-week JOY I watched when my parents were able to take my first-born for a half-day was incredible. They had waited so long to become grandparents and while their health soon began to fail, the short years after my first-born could walk and talk and before elementary school began, were years that my parents would pick him up and have a day together on a weekly basis. I was so happy to give them this.
  • Sitting the boys down and telling them their mom and me were getting a divorce was a horrendous task. They were both under ten, neither understood what we were saying in any real sense, and both began crying. It broke my heart.
  • Introducing so many of my interests to my boys and watching which ones took and which ones didn’t was both fun and frustrating. As it turned out, most of my favorite things they didn’t take to and they ended up developing interests of their own. That experience was eye opening and made me a better dad.
  • I was literally scared-to-depression during the dark days of the divorce since I feared not only the fiscal impact but also not seeing my boys EVERY day. The process was as horrible as you can imagine and the waste of money involved was heartbreaking, especially now as I face seven years of college expenses.
  • It was incredible to see my first-born’s first music performances and realizie that he’d found that LOVE we all seek. Since then, I’ve attended countless concerts of great artists with him and had the pride of seeing him perform in numerous others. The highlight – to date – was his chutzpah in talking himself on stage to play with his idol, Chris Cornell, at The Roxy on Sunset when he was just 16.
  • Also during the dark days of the divorce, I was stunned by the lack of support from long-time friends and the insensitivity of casual friends from my boy’s school. It took its toll on me. The positive side was that it motivated my second career.
  • I’ll end this list with my first-born’s turnaround. Without revealing the details, he went through a very bad period in which his schoolwork and everything suffered. He pulled himself out of that – with a little help from his friends and dad – and got himself accepted to The Berklee College of Music, where he’ll start his freshman year this fall. We will be doing a road trip together, from Los Angeles to Boston, partially sponsored by FORD, and I couldn’t be prouder!
Writing this list makes me realize this is fodder for my next book. Someone please remind me that this should be my next book – Things I’ve Loved and Learned Being a Dad. For now, I’d sure like to hear from you other dads with some of your high and low dad moments.

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