Today is my sweet, incredible Daddy’s birthday, and it’s so exciting that I am actually with him, at home, to celebrate! It’s been years since I’ve been able to take a vacation in mid-July to properly celebrate with him, so I’m especially excited to this year. We have a few surprises up our sleeves for his birthday celebrations!
In honor of my dad’s birthday, I thought I’d thank him for the many things he’s taught + done for me throughout the years…
1. How to play tennis and beat your dad.
Even after about twenty years of regularly beating him at tennis (every time!), he still thinks he can be me. Never! When Bridgette and I were little girls, he got us into tennis lessons, followed by tennis teams and leagues. I’ve always loved our family tennis matches, and I think we all have a competitive streak in us. Needless to say, Dad doesn’t like to admit that his little girls could beat him! Right, Dad?! He’s also got a wicked serve and can target you from across the tennis court quite well…
2. Synchronized walking
Growing up in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics, we heard a lot about synchronized swimming. We decided to take this to the streets of Atlanta and have created a family walking style.. the synchronized walk. It’s a true art form & it always brings back fun memories!
3. Our secret handshake
It’s true, Dad and I -all these years later- still have a secret handshake. We pull it out during church services!
4. How to laugh and laugh at yourself
My dad is quite the jokester- all the time. He definitely has a serious side (and I think some people, especially in the political/education world, only see this side!), but he is, without a doubt, one of the funniest people I have ever met. I love this about him! He can laugh at himself all the time, and he makes everyone around him laugh a lot, too. One of the most valuable traits, I believe, is the ability to find joy and humor in everything, and Dad is excellent in reminding me to not take life too seriously, to laugh at yourself or with others (not at others!), and to enjoy everything about life. Seriously, this man cracks me up.
5. Everything about cars & NASCAR
…Just kidding. I know Dad absolutely loves his two girls (and thankfully just welcomed a son-in-law to the family!), but… we are girls. I’m one of those women who really does call every time something goes wrong with my car or when I buy a new car or when my windshield cracks for the second time in a week. And who do I call? My dad, of course. And I didn’t grow up loving golf (one of his loves) or cars or, now, his new hobby – NASCAR. I like to tease him (a Northerner) about his growing interest in NASCAR and racing, since I have zero interest in it. But I’m glad he does!
6. That he is always there for me, in every way, no matter what.
No matter what. It’s so, so true. My daddy is SO selfless and giving – and so willing to help me (and anyone) out, no matter when/where/how. And, to top it off, he is SO full of knowledge and also loves to figure out the solutions to problems – or at least he pretends like he does! He is the best researcher I’ve ever seen. I probably rely on him too much (see above example about car problems, whoops), but it’s so comforting to know that should I ever need any help- big or small- he is always there. I love that about him, and he has no idea how very much I appreciate it. And not just when I’m stranded somewhere or stuck in DC traffic for endless hours or in tears, etc.
7. How to love my momma
I believe it’s so important for parents to be excellent role models for their children. Mine are the best! It’s so comforting to witness my dad love my mom (and vice versa) in touch tangible, visible ways. I am blessed with such amazing parents who ensure their children know that they love each other. Each and every marriage has its ups and downs, and no person is perfect and faultless, but I have learned so much from watching my parents in their marriage. What a blessing!
8. To try new things
Most recently, Dad has taken up ballroom dancing (mostly in prep for Bridgette’s wedding) and church choir. I love that he is trying new things- and is loving these things, too. Throughout my life, he has always encouraged me to follow my heart, to try new things, and to explore my passions. I have never, ever felt discouraged from doing anything, or, at the opposite end, pushed into anything I didn’t like or didn’t want to do. Dad taught me- and is still teaching me- to follow my dreams, all of the time. Your interests and passions may change or evolve, and it’s okay to try new things or seek out a new adventure. Life is about learning- and growing. It’s okay to even fail at these things! But the important thing to is try– and try to enjoy it, whatever it is, at least a little.
9. How important family is
We moved a lot growing up, but I never once doubted how much my family loved each other & were there for one another. Despite the hundreds of miles between us, I know that I am so valued and so loved! And all of our extended family, spread out all over the country, is the same way. We didn’t grow up near our grandparents or most of our extended family, but I always knew how important these people and these relationships were and still are. My parents go to great lengths, especially with the distance between family members, to show how valued, loved, and important everyone is. And I’m so grateful for the trips they’ve made to DC to visit me, for the countless phone calls/emails/silly texts to show they care, and for always allowing me to visit home whenever I have a vacation. I’ve never doubted, or even undervalued, the importance of family, because my parents have stressed just how important your loved ones are!
10. Qualities to look for in my future husband
It’s often said that women often want a future husband to have similar qualities of her dad. I think my dad has been such an exemplary example of many, many traits that I look for in my future husband. I will never settle for less, and I want my husband to have many of the same characteristics of my dad, many of which I’ve listed here. I am so proud, humbled, and grateful that I have been blessed with, truly, the best dad in the world. And I pray that someday, I’ll find a husband just as loving, compassionate, hilarious, helpful, encouraging, and wonderful as my daddy is.
Love you so much, Daddy!!