Being a Dad

The Little Things

By Jason Marshall

It’s just another day. At least it has been for the past 35 years.

The last time I bought a Father’s Day card, Ronald Reagan was in the White House and Crocodile Dundee was showing the world what a real knife should look like.

My dad passed away the summer I turned 17 and since then I’ve had no reason to celebrate the third Sunday in June.

Minus a dad to share it with, Father’s Day has long felt hollow.

Until now. Today I have a fresh perspective, thanks to a two-year-old boy.

Last night my oldest son’s cries woke me up. A bad dream.

When I got to his bedside, all he wanted was to snuggle. It was while I sat with him in my arms, rocking him back to sleep, I thought about what it means to be a dad.

Every man’s life changes when you become a father. Priorities shift.

Being a dad is a lifetime commitment. You have to be the constant. The rock. For your kids and your partner.

It comes with an enormous feeling of responsibility. You want to teach. To mentor. There’s internal pressure to have all the answers. And mental struggles when you realize you don’t.

You have moments where you feel invincible. And other times where you feel helpless. One minute you have it figured out. The next you have no clue.

You try to understand what your kids need. And how to give it to them. Your goal is to set them up for success in life.

The instruction manual is just one page with a solitary three-word sentence that reads: Do your best.

But what is your best?

Simply put, it’s being present. Not missing out on what—or who—is right in front of you because you’re insecure or unsure. You need to be present in body, mind and spirit. Your kids don’t care how crappy your day was at work. All they want is you to be there. With them. In that very moment. Just being Dad.

Think of your fondest memories of your father. Chances are it wasn’t advice he offered you, but rather something fun you did while spending time together. If you really think about it, your happiest childhood memories are when your parents were also happy.

Kids will grow up emulating your actions and the example you set. So be the best version of you at all times. Love will resonate from your actions and your words.

Embrace the times that are spirit lifting and life changing.

From holding your newborn in your arms, to hearing them call you “Dada” for the very first time.

First steps. First words. Giggles and belly laughs.

Hugs as you walk through the door. And bedtime stories.

Riding a bike. Hitting a ball. School concerts.

The magic in their eyes on Christmas morning.

A visit from the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy.

Halloween night. Birthday surprises.

Works of crayon art displayed on the fridge.

Seeing a bit of yourself in what they say or how they react.

And as they get older there will be driver’s license day. Proms and graduations. An engagement. A wedding day. Grandbabies.

Being a dad isn’t always enjoyable. There will be days when your kids come to you when life is upside down and seems its worst. From falling off a bike to relationship heartache. Tears will be shed.

No one said it would be easy.

Just remember: they don’t need all the answers or for you to fix everything. They just need their dad.

The universe has a way of handing you things you didn’t even know you wanted. Or needed.

Five years ago, I never thought I’d be a father. Now I can’t picture life any other way.

So, as I sat with my son in my arms last night, only then did I realize Father’s Day isn’t just about my dad. It’s also a day to celebrate being a dad.

Life is a succession of little moments that make fatherhood unlike anything else you’ll ever do. In the best way possible. And those little things make all the difference. To your children. And to you.

Happy Father’s Day!

Jason Marshall has been a writer and journalist for more than 30 years and is an on-air host and station manager at Valley Heritage Radio just outside of Renfrew, Ontario. And he’s truly a big kid at heart. You can email him anytime at