Anyway, it’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for a motherhood column! And because Emily and I really enjoyed writing about the lessons we’ve learned from our moms, we thought we’d dedicate this week’s posts to the lessons we’ve learned from our dads… because these men have shaped the women and mothers we’ve become. :) Before you read any further, though, be sure to check out Emily’s post!
Okay. Back to @wellroundedchris. (That’s not actually his handle; everyone just kids him that it should be since he works in the city and lives in the country, haha, and my mom is @cathyinthecountry and I’m @kellyinthecity.)
But in all seriousness, my dad is the best. And I know I’m a little biased in saying that, but he’s truly the definition of goodness, and I strive to build the character that he has. Over the last week, I’ve admittedly been a little stressed about writing this post, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to express just how wonderful my father is–especially late at night, when I write most of my blog content these days. (Whatever happened to the One Month Challenge? Bah!) But really: he’s an incredible man, and I think everyone who knows him would agree that there should be “WWCD?” stickers.
(“What Would Chris Do?”)
I could write a novel of an introduction for this post, but if I allowed myself to go on any longer, we’d never get to the lessons! So I’m going to cut myself short and just leave it at this: I love you, Dad. You’re the first man I ever loved, and you’re the backbone of my life. I’m also grateful to all the lessons you taught me over the years, and for teaching me what’s important in life. Fortunately for me, I can always call you and ask for guidance when faced with a tough situation or decision. Unfortunately for you, that means I call several times per day. ;)
Last thing I should note before we get to it: my brothers, Patrick and Danny, helped create this list. Which is the cutest. (But yeah: Dad, just know that, haha.)
Lessons Learned from Dad
Half of life is just showing up with a good attitude
Patrick and Danny came up with this one, and I loved it. Tackle new challenges with a positive mindset and your chances of success and/or happiness are so much higher.
Golf is impossible
Again, one from the brothers. But Dad’s apparently taught them that “it’s pointless to get mad about personal ineptitude on the course.” Just have a good time and celebrate when you get lucky.
Time spent on the Shore fixes most problems
Maybe it’s not the Shore for you, but have a place that makes you happy, and go there when need be. Throughout my life, whenever I’ve hit rough patches, I’ve retreated to Ocean City. The salty air and the open space always brings me clarity and helps me feel refreshed.
It’s one of the most important virtues a person can have. It helps others; it builds them up and helps them grow. Being humble allows you to listen, appreciate, respect and understand. Life isn’t about impressing others. Strive for your personal best, but help the people around you realize theirs.
Deciding who to spend your life with is the most important decision you’ll ever make
I talk about the most life-changing conversation I’ve ever had in this post. It happened at Pasty’s on the Upper East Side back in 2009, and it’s 100-percent why I ended I ended up with Mitch and Emma and this wonderful little life I have. Thank you for my amazing family, Dad.
You’re not going to be good at everything
I should preface this one with the fact that Dad always lovingly pushed us to be the best versions of ourselves, and we’re all so grateful for that. But he also reminded us not to be too hard on ourselves, and to enjoy life. Take my field hockey and lacrosse years. Guys, I was bad. I mean, I could get by, but let’s just say I had to work REALLY, REALLY hard to make the varsity team, and even then, I made it by the skin of my teeth and didn’t get a whole lot of playing time. But dad celebrated my little victories like whoa. It was so ridiculously sweet, and honestly, it made me feel like I was the MVP of the teams. Because he was so proud of me, I became proud of myself, too. I’ll never forget the time I scored my first goal and dad lost his mind on the sidelines. I’m sure everyone else was like 🙄, but the Sheehans were like 💃. I have to tell you, though: I’ve thought about this countless times throughout my life. So what if I’m not the best at something? If it makes me happy, that’s pretty wonderful, and I think I should continue doing it!
My dad was in the Air Force, and he moved our little family all over the place when I was younger–namely to upstate New York, 10 minutes from the Canadian border, and then out to Sacramento, California. At the time, I think a lot of friends and family members wondered what the heck Dad was doing. But my parents always say that these years–the “adventure years”–were some of the best of their lives. And when I told my parents that Mitch and I were moving to Chicago, they totally backed it. Yes, they were sad to see us go, but they told us to go on our adventure. (And I’m so glad we did!) Patrick is doing the same thing right now. He’s packing up and creating a new life for himself in New Orleans. And soon, Danny will go on an adventure of his own. (Maybe Newport Beach?!)
Treat others with respect, and be kind
This doesn’t necessarily warrant a long explanation, but both Mom and Dad have always driven home the idea that everyone–regardless of what job a person has or what position in life they’re in–deserves respect and kindness. Each person has a story, so listen. Be grateful for the respect and kindness you were shown when you were just starting out, and pay it forward.
See the glass as half full
Sometimes it can take a little effort, because yes, there will be times in life when you’re feeling discouraged and defeated. Take a deep breath, put a smile on your face, and pause for a minute to think about everything you’ve been blessed with. Life is good!
A life without meat is a life without flavor
Clearly, Danny wrote this one. And if you knew Danny, you’d understand. ;) But the gist of it is that the Sheehan boys love steaks, and life is better when you eat a lot of them.
Stand up for what’s right
Going along with the crowd is the easy route, and throughout life, you’ll watch lots of people do just this. But don’t do it. Stand up for the weaker man when no one else is; set an example even if it requires all the courage you have. Do what’s right, and you’ll be surprised as to how many others follow suit.
It takes a courageous person to admit when he’s wrong and say sorry. Learn from your mistakes, and don’t let your pride damage friendships and relationships. Be the bigger person.
There’s always money in the banana stand
So don’t burn it down.
Work smarter, not harder
This doesn’t come naturally to me. But Dad is always in the back of my mind when I’m tasked with an overwhelmingly large project. I try to step back for a few minutes and plan out how I can accomplish things quickly while also doing a good job. Taking those few minutes to assess the situation usually saves me hours–if not days–of work. No need to reinvent the wheel!
Shirts are basically bibs
A few years ago, I wrote this post about our weekly Father/Daughter Dinner Nights in New York. And while yes, reading it makes me a little teary eyed, it also reminds me of the countless times my dad spilled spaghetti sauce all over himself at dinner. Like, every time, guys. And he continues to do it. It’s the funniest thing, and I’m sure his dry-cleaning bill is astronomical, haha. I also love his reaction whenever it happens. He just laughs and throws up his hands… and then goes back to the pasta.
Italian food trumps all
Like, why does other food even exist? Beside steak. But steak is kind of Italian, too.
Choose your company
Surround yourself with intelligent, open-minded people who also see the glass as half full. Ideally, those people will share values similar to yours, but don’t look for carbon copies of yourself. The best friends are those who support and challenge you, and those you can laugh with.
Building off the last one, see the humor in life. Laugh with your significant other. Laugh with your kids. Laugh with your friends. Don’t go through life taking things too seriously; be silly and embrace the child within you.
Fill your home with music
Some of my favorite childhood memories are from family weekends at home, when Dad would blast James Taylor, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel–you know. All that stuff. It brought so much joy to the family, and each Sheehan kid is passionate about music as a result. (Though, Dad: why are we so bad at the guitar?! Someone, help us!)
No matter what. (And yes, family extends beyond blood. I mean, just look at Uncle Sully.)
Life keeps getting better
I remember when I was graduating from high school, and I felt like my life was ending. Same thing when I graduated from college. And then when I turned 25. Dad’s always whole-heartedly reminded me, though, that life just keeps getting better with age. And you know what? I can sincerely say that life has only improved as I’ve moved from one phase to the next. My 20s were better than my teens were; my 30s are better than my 20s were. Dad’s always right.
Love you, Dad! Happy Father’s Day!
Remember to read Emily’s post on lessons she’s learned from her dad, and here’s a similar post I wrote about lessons I learned from Mom. :)