Ben and I had the privilege to attend an American Diabetes Association Father of the Year awards ceremony last week. It was a lovely event and quite inspiring! Four Austin, Texas men were honored for their philanthropic and business efforts, and accomplishments in fatherhood. Their acceptance speeches included tales of strength, determination, sacrifice and the importance of relationships. Each honoree recognized the mentors in his life – those who inspired him to become a great man and father. The mentors included fathers, mothers, uncles, brothers, and grandparents. The honorees’ children and spouse spoke about the man and father he was and is. All four honorees have adult children, and one honoree has grandchildren as well.
Reflecting on the title “Father of the Year,” I daydreamed about how our boys would speak of Ben as adults.
What will they say? How will they characterize and reflect on the lessons Ben taught them?
I reflected on how I would describe Ben as a father.
Then it occurred to me….
Why should we wait to honor him 10+ years from now when the boys are grown? We should honor him now. I certainly think he deserves it.
As a theme, Ben has been led by the desire to be a great dad in every decision he has made since becoming a dad in 2002 and 2003. Not just led by providing for, but more so, the nurturing of our boys. Career decisions have hinged on how the job would affect his ability to be a good dad.
Ben used to joke that when we had kids, to have most sterile and safe environment for our kids, he would remove all furniture from the house and always be on the (clean) floor to provide the safest environment. The safest environment has proven to be Ben’s total commitment to being a father. He is the most intuitive dad I’ve ever witnessed. How lucky am I????
Some highlights of Ben’s commitment, sacrifice and determination:
- Ben juggled the 3rd year of law school with our pregnancy (after infertility treatments), and birth of our first son Ethan.
- Ben studied for, and passed, the most difficult bar exam in the country while being the primary caregiver for Ethan.
- Ben’s first year as an attorney found the birth of our second son, Aidan, and a year later an emergency brain surgery for Aidan – 100 miles from home.
- In the years after Aidan’s recovery, Ben left a job he was very good at, when he realized the peers in his field were desensitized. He didn’t want to become that kind of person. He still wanted to feel, and for his boys to see him feel.
- Ben took a leap of faith to leave the familiarity of Sacramento, where we grew up and our families were, for the unknown of the Seattle area. He recognized that he wanted something different for our boys.
- Ben again became the primary caregiver for our boys, while studying for (and passing) another state bar exam.
- When my (Tiffany’s) father fell ill in Sacramento, Ben left a new job when he recognized the 60+ hours would not be enough, and would sacrifice being the father he wanted to be. Ben resigning allowed the boys to spend a lot of time with their Poppie before he passed away.
- Once again faced with establishing a career path that allowed family first, Ben started work with the fantastic company REI. The flexibility and culture allowed Ben to soar career wise, while being totally present at home for the boys.
By far, the most significant commitment to fatherhood Ben has made was leaving his valued career at REI for the open road to “spend middle school” with the boys.
And for that, we are so grateful. This year has been full of adventure, loving, and learning. Our boys are so fortunate to have Ben as the perfect mentor of what a lifelong learner, a man, and most importantly, a dad is.
Thank you Ben – you have earned the Father of the Year Award every year since you became a father in 2002. Thank you to the mentors in Ben’s life – those that provided the path, and example of what a parent is and does.
Please tell us about your Father of the Year!