Today I sat stewing a long while over what to write. Too many ideas, all intertwined, tangled, and amorphous. It’s been an intense week of learning and introspection, and I’m happy to have some quiet down time. Hubs and son went to Colorado for a quick weekend getaway, and I got to FaceTime with them briefly while they drove with my dad to the mall before heading to the airport for the flight back. These, the three most important men in my life, all in one place—suddenly I felt moved to say thanks to the dads—Happy Father’s Day, of course!
When we think of dads and their special place in our lives, can we not help but realize the gravity of their job? Let’s not kid ourselves, no dad is perfect. But if we assume each does the best he can, we should really start to appreciate how they shape our lives. At their best, they protect us, model our core values and how to be in the world, and prepare us to launch successfully into that world with conviction. They seem also to possess inherent knowledge on how cars, garage doors, and water heaters work—what is up with that?
Much is written on why boys need strong male role models. But we girls need them, too—dads are key to all kids’ success. My dad immigrated to the US as an engineering graduate student in 1970. He taught me how to be assertive, honest, direct, articulate, and confident–all the things he had to be. Because of him I can stand tall (all 5’2” of me) in a room full of men and know without question that I can hold my own. I can meet my senior corporate executive male patients not just with my MD and expertise, but with the self-assurance that a lifetime of verbal sparring with a powerful mental coach has provided. Because of Ba I am precise, intentional, and sure with my words. [I got my diplomacy from my mom, but that’s another post.] I would not be the person I am today without my dad. It’s not at all that Hallmark commercial mush and goo (we are Chinese, are you kidding?), and we have certainly had our differences. But I do not question his absolute, unconditional, and infinite love, and I know he felt it from my grandfather before him. Hou-Ping Cheng of the Greatest Generation was, by the way, a Renaissance man. He traveled to the United States as a young adult in the early 20th Century, learned English, returned only to flee communist China after World War II, then rose to teach at university and lead infrastructure projects in my parents’ hometown in Taiwan. I think his father was a surgeon (will have to check with Ba on that one). I come from a long line of strong male role models, so voilà, how could I not be a successful, 21st Century, Chinese-American mama doc?
Healthy relationships evolve and mature with time, and parent-child relationships are no exception. Kids appreciate when parents can admit their flaws and own their mistakes. Parents appreciate when kids acknowledge that we really are here doing our best. Apologies and forgiveness heal wounds great and small. I don’t do everything the way my parents did it, and I expect my kids will do things differently still. But what I really hope never changes through the generations, is that every kid in our family, no matter how old, feels loved through and through.
Ba, you have succeeded. Congratulations and thank you!