by Carrie Southworth, co-founder
The other day in the Twigtale office, our content specialist, Sara, yelled out to the group, “Can you guys name current or historical men that you immediately think of when I say ‘great dads?’"
There was silence.
“Uh, George Washington? “ I asked.
First, let me set the record straight, George Washington was not a father – he had no children (that we know of). But I drove home that evening feeling a challenge rise in my chest. Who comes to mind when I think of “great dads” and what makes them great?
The first man who came to mind was Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Malala Yousafzai. Malala was the young Pakistani girl shot on a bus by the Taliban in 2012 after blogging and speaking out for female education. Malala survived the assassination attempt, continued as an outspoken activist, and eventually became the youngest ever Nobel Prize laureate. Malala is certainly brave, but Ziauddin encouraged that bravery, stoked the fire in Malala’s belly. In a captivating TED talk, Ziauddin speaks of the guilt he initially felt after Malala was shot. Was this his fault? Did his encouragement ultimately put a muzzle to his daughter’s temple? He fought for his daughter to be free, to be educated, but was this fight also her downfall? Heart-wrenching questions, with an inspirational ending. Ziauddin wanted Malala to matter. He wanted her to fight for her future. This dad took a difficult path because his daughter was at stake.
The next Dad that came to mind was one from my local community, here in the Pacific Palisades. Gordon Gray was delivered a terrible blow in March of this year. Not one, but both of his young daughters we diagnosed with the incredibly rare Batten Disease. The prognosis is devastating – most children with the disease will die between the ages of 6 and 12 years old. There is no treatment or cure. And in the face of this devastation? Gordon and his wife decided to take on the impossible. They are fighting to raise 10 million dollars RIGHT NOW to accelerate research and find a cure for their girls. Gordon Gray is racing against time and putting up a heroic fight for his girls’ survival.
So, I have these two fathers that come to mind when I think of "great dads." Worlds apart, but united in that they are both fathers doing incredibly brave and hard things for their children.
Which leads me to this - you know who else is doing hard things for his kids? My husband. He may not need to inspire bravery against tyranny, or search for impossible cures. But being a dad is a HARD thing. He is a provider, a protector. He changes diapers, drives screaming kids to school. He visits Urgent Care at 2 am, attends soccer practices, sits with children when they want “company” in the bathroom. He kisses boo-boos and makes buttermilk pancakes and watches Frozen 6 gazillion times a month. He has watched his new car get destroyed by cheese puffs and dribbling milk. And every Saturday morning he puts on his princess crown and joins the girls for a tea party in the princess tent.
He is a dad. Doing hard things. Every day, hard things.
All in the name of his kids.
He is a great dad. And I love him for it.
Falzone, Diana. "Film producer Gordon Gray using star power to fight daughters' deadly disease." Fox News. FOX News Network, LLC., 15 June 2015. Web. 17 June 2015.
"John Walsh." Biography. A&E Television Networks, LLC., 2015. Web. 19 June 2015.
"Malala Yousafzai." Biography. A&E Television Networks, LLC., 2015. Web. 19 June 2015.
"My daughter, Malala." TED2014. TED., March 2014. Web. 19 June 2015.