“You grow up the day you have your first real laugh -- at yourself.” - Ethel Barrymore
Don't we all have BIG shoes to fill at some point? It seems like yesterday that I was the kid. After spending the weekend with my own three sprogs, it's clear that I've filled the shoes that I used to try on for size. I'm in the midst of trying not to feel the pangs of shame of the job that I'm not doing, in hopes that I'll try harder to a better one. As I make decisions, mistakes, and the occasional win, I look back at what I remember of my parents. Providing the essentials was a given, but that's not enough.
The lessons in becoming a husband and father came from several members of my family. My mother was first and foremost in teaching me what a man should be. Her approach was the most direct and formal. Opening doors, paying bills, planning lessons, being ON TIME, etc. She taught me to sew a button, iron my shirt, laundry, basic cooking, and so forth. I learned COUNTLESS lessons about life, and for that I'm forever grateful. Yet, who was to teach me to be the man? I found the lessons all around me. Teachers, coaches, church and scout leaders all contributed. What about the family?
My father taught me to leave everything,...everything, better than you found it. My grandfather taught me that with a great product and even better customer service, you couldn't go wrong. My older brother taught me that even with all the wicked of the world the swirls around us, you can decide who YOU want to be, and that should be good enough for everyone else. My uncle taught me unconditional love to your children. My step-father taught me how to treat a woman and wife.
So ask yourself, what kind of shoes are you filling? As I move along in life, I sometimes ask what type of shoes am I leaving behind to be filled? This helps guide me bit as I stumble, fall, pick myself up, and try again. The effort needs to be there. The conscious decisions we make to be better men, fathers, husbands, and humans.
Just remember fellas, as Shang sang in Disney's Mulan, "Be a man..."