Dad – My Quiet Supporter

dad and katie
I never knew how much of a gift I had in my father until my freshman year of college. It was the start of my second semester and my new best friend and I were moving into a new dorm room together. We were ecstatic that we were both able to escape from our equally crazy previous roommates and were looking forward to an adventurous semester together. As we anxiously awaited for Laura’s dad to arrive to assume our beds into bunk beds, we discussed all the fun parties we could throw in our new spacious room. (Imagine 12 x 12 being spacious.)

I hadn’t met Laura’s father before and was a little nervous. He came barreling into the room with his overflowing tool box and barely said hello before getting to work on the beds. The next 30 minutes was full of more swear words than I heard at all the frat parties from my first semester.

Laura’s dad was loud and red-faced and took no time for niceties. I remember feeling embarrassed that I was scared.  Later, after he left, I said to Laura, “God, I’m SO sorry that we made your Dad do that, if I had known it was going to be such a problem we could have tried to tackle it ourselves.”

She just laughed and said, “You mean because he was swearing? Katie, that’s NORMAL. That’s what dads do. It doesn’t mean he didn’t want to do it. Chill out.”

I thought he was going to burn the dorm down. That was normal? Not in my house.

My dad was the opposite. He is the most tender, calm, kind, and passionate man I know. Our house wasn’t filled with the typical masculinity or stereotypical “dad” culture. Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with that. I just didn’t grow up with it or ever experience it on a first hand basis. 

Dads are often overlooked when credit is due in the parenting game. I’m so grateful for my Dad. My dad was always present. He was quiet and timid and the strongest way possible. He was nurturing and calm and sometimes could say the most without saying anything at all. He was always my quiet supporter, cheering for me from the sidelines in the most graceful way. He’s still there, I can feel him even now, waving his arms and smiling his big Dad smile. 

jimreadingtokids
A big emphasis was never put on sports – I still can barely sit through a sporting event, live or on TV, without being confused or bored. Of course this doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun playing sports with my Dad. We had wild games of wiffle ball and basketball and goofed around in the pool and ocean. He taught me how to play tennis and golf, and when I whined about hating golf and being the only girl player after only a year he did not put up a fight and let me quit. Thanks Dad for letting me be me. 

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Whenever my mom was out late at a parent teacher conference or other event and dad was responsible for dinner he’d whip up one of three things, a frozen Tony’s pizza, pancakes, or grilled cheese. These nights always felt like vacation. We didn’t even use the “fancy” napkins with dinner and got to make fun ice cream sundaes afterwards. Thanks for teaching me to put cereal and pretzels in my sundaes. It’s the little things that make life fun. 

He’d always invited me to go on walks with him, whether is was at the county park, at the beach or just in our neighborhood.

dad katie wedding
We’d quietly chat about my day at school or walk in a calm silence as he’d point out small nuances and little details in the landscapes. Whether it be the way squirrels played, the shapes of the clouds, the new shade the leaves were changing, or the odd wreath hanging on old Mr. Larson’s door. Thanks dad for always making me notice and appreciate the small things and change my perspective of my world. Even when it was in the same old neighborhood you lived in since you were a child. Perspective is key.

I was lucky to always have music playing in my house growing up. If neither of my parents were currently playing the piano in our living room, music was filling the house from the record player or stereo. If my mom was in control, which, if I’m being honest, was more often than not, we’d all be treated to Broadway tunes. Otherwise my Dad would turn on some of his classic rock favorites like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, or Deep Purple.

I remember one time I walked into the living room to find my Dad laying flat on his back on the floor with his eyes closed. Pink Floyd was playing. My first thought was, “Is he okay?” He then invited me to sit down with him. He said to close my eyes and just listen to the music. Thanks Dad, for making me slow things down and for making me always choose classic rock over modern-day pop.

He actually always seemed excited to help with boring school homework like memorizing state capitals and quizzing me on history and English facts. Once it was time to do any project that involved poster making I knew I could count on him to meet me at the dinner table with a ruler and a straight edge. He was meticulous about making straight lines and making sure everything look perfect. His art school days always showed. Thanks dad for always making it a guarantee that my projects would get an A. 

dad and katie with pumpkin
Always prepared with a camera he taught me about negative space and how to find the right angles for your photos. Although others may judge me for taking 20 photos of the same sunset, I know he never will. Dad, thanks for showing me that beauty can be documented and we can alter our perception through photos. Even if it’s the same sun setting over the same beach year after year. 

Once it was time for me to learn how to drive he took me down to the empty parking lot at the pool. He let me drive around in circles and made sure I was completely comfortable before taking me out on the main road. As I white knuckled it on the highway and screamed whenever someone passed me or I got over 50 MPH he held his patience and never raised his voice. Thanks for having confidence in me.

As I got older I would tend to lean on my mom during the hard times and heart breaks. Yet, I always knew my dad was there, worrying about me and thinking about me. He was always aware of the problems, and even if we didn’t talk about the specifics, I knew I could count on him to take my mind of things or to just to lean on him and cry. We’d sit and be quiet together or go for a car ride or watch some sappy movie on TV. Thanks Dad for always watching girly movies and celebrity entertainment and simply being there as a quiet supporter. Also for reading my US Weekly’s so you’d be “on top of things”.

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If I needed it, I could fall into his arms and let my troubles fall aways. My dad is a little man who weighs less than I do, but when he hugs me, he hugs me with his whole heart. He makes me feel small and innocent again, like he could fix anything with a “breakfast for dinner!” night and a hug. 

Thanks for always believing in me and telling me I’m capable of doing hard things. 

Dad, you certainly made it hard for any other man to fill your shoes. Ryan is so similar to you in so many ways, it took me awhile to find someone to live up to your tender heart. You’ve shown me what a true father looks like and have done a wonderful job raising both a son and a daughter. You make my world a more beautiful place and I can’t wait to learn more from you as we continue our walks into the future. I hope you know how grateful I am for all that you do. 

 Also thanks for always letting me win at Monopoly. No one else plays like you. 

xoxo Katie

Make Good Choices and Other Advice From My Mom

words of advice from my mother  My mom is my best friend. 

A decade ago that statement would have made me cringe. As a teenagar my mom was my mom. She was my biggest critic, making me second guess my choices constantly. She was a person to keep secrets from, to roll my eyes at, and to groan about with my friends. After any sort of disagreement or hormonal temper tantrum I’d stomp upstairs, slam my door, and cry, “You don’t understand me! You don’t care how I feel!”

Then, just as quickly as backyard bbq’s and sun burned shoulders revolve into cozy scarves and raking leaves, I stopped seeing my mom as my mom. My teenage female hormones dissipated, I went away for college, and almost overnight she transformed from being my mom into being a person.

advice from my mom, mother's day

Her stories, lessons and words of advice were more relatable. I now listened with a more serious heart, knowing that these words were coming from experience, from love. I learned to lean on her more as a friend and to let her lean on me in times of need as well. 

I reflect on those times where I swore she didn’t understand me and see that, in reality, she understood me all too well. Who else could know me better than the woman who shaped me into who I am, who has stood by me since my first heartbeat in her womb? I’m grateful for her criticism, her rules, her boundaries, her stories, her advice, her desire to let me learn. 

I’m still learning.

But I know that I can’t imagine a day without her in my adult life.

happy mother's day advice from my mom

Yes, of course she taught me all the things mothers are to teach their children: how to bathe yourself, how to tie your shoes, how to have good manners, all those basic survival tips. But she has given me so much more. She’s given me a positive and lifelong mentor for all arenas of my life. How to be a good friend, a good wife, a good mother, a good employee, a good human being.

I see her or talk to her nearly every day and can’t imagine not. I call her up frantically for advice on anything from cooking to relationships, to helping me choose which dress to buy. We share the ins and outs of our friendships and our family issues. And I hope I’m as good of a friend to her as she is to me. 

Countless times a day I find myself listening to her voice in my head, guiding my decisions. From our days of reading Charlotte’s Web in bed to dealing with mean girls at school to my fist boyfriend and to planning my wedding my mom as been shaping and molding me into the best woman I can be. 

In honor of Mother’s Day I wanted to share some of my favorite words of advice from my Mom:

Make Good Choices

To this day my Mom says this line to me as I’m leaving for a weekend or big event. Every time I left the house has a teenager or even in my twenties my mom would kiss me and shout this over my head as I trotted out to my car. Back then I’d roll my eyes as I’m driving away thinking, “What does SHE know about my choices? I ALWAYS make good choices!”

No Katie, you don’t. I can think of MANY times where you didn’t make the right choice. And my mother’s guilt was always in my head. 

Isn’t this what all mothers hope for their children? That they raised them well enough that they know when to do the right thing out in the real world? That against the odds they will stand up and know when to make the RIGHT choice?

It Takes All Types

My mom would always say this whenever I was being critical or judgemental of anyone that was different or “weird”. And she’s right. We all work together to make this world work. The world would be incomplete without the anti social science guys and the stuck up mean girls. Yes even that weird old man that we see every weekend at the market without any teeth that is always humming and talking nonsense. Acceptance was always a priority in our home. 

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say, Don’t Say Anything At All

Oh how I wish more people would hear my mom saying this every time they say something mean about someone or something or just plain complain. Focus on the positive. Don’t say mean things just to be mean. 

Be A Good Friend

Even when your friends aren’t being good friends. Even when you feel like all you are doing is giving. Even when it’s not the “cool” thing to do. My mom always pushed me to be kind first. 

Get It Done Today

I’m a procrastinator, always have been. Yet, whenever I listened to when my mom said, “Just do it and get it over with” I never regretted not putting off a project, errand, or annoying task. Why waste time mulling over having to do something when you could do it, get it over with, and move on to something you actually want to do?

Always Be On Time

My mom is NEVER late. She makes her scheduled commitments a priority. This shows people that your are dependable, loyal, and committed to the date. Now most of the time I’m always on time (except for work, somehow I manage to be late for work). But, with always being on time comes the horrible fact that you’ll be completely annoyed whenever anyone is late to meet you. 

And on a less serious note: Nude Underwear is Always The Best Choice

Okay, Mom you are correct. Even though I still prefer pretty colors and patterns, nudes go with everything and are discreet and classic and remain hidden under most fabrics and colors. (They also remain hidden under pale pink bridesmaid dresses at my wedding, but that is a story for another time and place).

What can I say? Mom, you’re always right!

Mom, on this Mother’s Day and on every other day I hope you know how much I respect and love you as both my friend and mother. Thank you for being the best role model for all my relationships. I can’t wait to see what else I learn from you in the future. My heart will always belong to you, forever entwined, since our first moments together. 

words of advice from my mom

 What have you learned from your Mother?

xoxo Katie