On Mothers’ Day I think of all the practical things my mother taught me from baking a pie to sewing a dress, and practicing piano and violin after I chose to learn these instruments. She taught me to follow through whatever I started.
On Fathers’ Day I am thankful that my dad never said to me, “You can’t do that, you’re a girl.” He might say I don’t think you’re tall enough or strong enough, but he’d let me give it a try. I cannot count the number of cows I tried to milk by hand – we lived on a dairy farm. I was never truly successful. My hands weren’t strong enough. Over the years I got better, but after I quit, Dad would sit down and finish my job in three or four minutes. He seldom criticized anything I did, but once in a while, he said firmly, “Stop.” I did.
Dad taught me to drive a standard shift on an old cut down car we used like a tractor. I think I was just tall enough to see through the steering wheel and reach the pedals at the same time. I was probably 13 or 14 years old. When he thought I was capable I remember driving to a field to get a piece of equipment he needed for the next day. I remember the day, when I was 16 or 17, he let me take our big Buick to the church, about a mile down a county road. Mom didn’t approve, pointing out that I didn’t have a license. Dad said, “She’ll be fine.”
Now I watch my son as Dad to my two grandsons. I am proud of him. He, too, lets them, encourages them to try new things. He and their mother give the boys lots of leeway to do their thing, but when Dad says they need to stop, or change what they are doing, he uses a voice that doesn’t allow them to ignore him. The boys are growing to be thoughtful human beings that are a joy to have around.
I think my son learned a lot from my Dad and Mom about love and building character with firmness and gentleness.