More than a hundred
“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” — George Herbert
Watching someone fight bravely the battles Jeff has fought these past 9 months, it’s easy to get overly sentimental about him. Yet I think I can say without exaggeration that I have never known a man more devoted to his wife and children than Jeff has been for over 30 years and counting.
When women think of ideal traits to look for in a husband, those who plan to have children would do well to prioritize qualities that make a man a good father. But this is a more complex task that it seems, as there is no “one size fits all” description of a good father. If I try to pin down one characteristic that seems to be an absolute requirement for parenthood, devotion is the quality that keeps coming to mind.
Devotion to family comes at a price, of course, especially when extraordinarily challenging situations arise. Hobbies are forgotten or nonexistent; career decisions and personal preferences take a backseat to the welfare of the children; at times one’s individual personality seems to vanish into the web of demands that shape every day. Usually, none of these sacrifices are obvious in a devoted father; they are so inseparable from his character that it’s easy to be fooled into thinking he’s sailing along, living the same life he might have lived without children. But those who look closely will know better.
Herbert touches on the truth about what makes a father’s role so unique. A devoted father teaches continually, sometimes with words but mostly by example, and the cumulative effect of being ever-present in his children’s lives is a more profound lesson than any educator can impart. I know, because I was blessed with a father whose example would be a hard act to follow. I thank God every day for giving me a husband more than equal to the task.
I have mixed emotions about Father’s Day as I do about Mother’s Day, because there are so many for whom this is not a happy occasion. But I hope that those who may feel that they don’t have much to celebrate on Father’s Day will find ways to honor the crucial and often unsung role that fathers play. However imperfect they may be, loving Daddies are almost everywhere we look: in history, in our extended families, in our local school or play group. If you didn’t have the kind of father you wished for, you can still be one, or see one, and be strengthened by the gifts only a father can give.