Being pregnant the second time around is very different than the first time, but one thing is for sure, you just feel a little bit more prepared for everything. At least that’s what I thought, until we found out that this time we were having a daughter. It made me start to think, would I do things differently the second time around? What had I learned since being a first-time parent and how was my upbringing any different?
It was just my sister and I in our family – no brothers, no pesky boys to bother us – and we loved it. But I started to think, did my parents do anything differently because we were girls? Or can I just apply the same thought process we used for my son (with some improvements)? With Father’s Day coming up, I really began reflecting specifically on how my dad parented us. I quickly realized that although it was my mom who was home with us the most, what my dad taught us even just by example has really shaped who I am today. It’s these same life lessons that I hope to instill in my children, especially my daughter.
My dad once told me, “don’t let failure keep you from trying again – the biggest rewards usually come after the biggest struggles”. It’s something that has stuck with me every day since then and I’ve seen be true many times. My dad pushed us hard, to always do our best, and work with meaning and purpose at everything we do.
“Set your goals high, always put out your best effort and if you do, be content with the results,” he said.
We were pushed to never take the easy way out and always to do the right thing. There’s an often told story in my family that my dad would erase an entire page of math homework because we would scribble things out and keep writing. Take the time and do it right, he’d say. There is no excuse for being sloppy. He made his point and it stuck. Laziness is now one of my biggest pet peeves. My dad has a work ethic like no one I’ve ever seen. He never expected the impossible out of us, although as a teenager I’m sure I felt like he did some days, but most importantly my dad always made sure we knew he loved us no matter what.
One thing I only recently realized is, my dad never made me feel like being a girl would limit me. He always made sure we knew we could do anything and everything we set our minds to. There were no limits in the world except ourselves. Regardless if I wanted to be an engineer like him or a stay-at-home mom, he was accepting of it all. As long as I worked hard, got a college degree, and made the decision that was right for me.
None of these things are earth shattering things to learn from your parents, but that’s exactly what surprised me. My father never mentioned to me that I’d be in the minority as a girl who liked math or chose a minor in Statistics, “for fun”. He encouraged me to just find my passion and go for it. My first internship introduced me to the world of software and took my career in a whole new direction. I stand here today, as a woman in a male dominated industry, and think little of it.
Because it was never a limitation or frankly even a conversation in our house.
And that’s how I want it for my children. I’ll have the conversation when it comes up with my daughter, but it will never be in reference to her being unable to do anything or needing to prove anyone wrong. My dad prepared me for a life of hard work and dedication to faith, family, and work, whatever that is. Most of all, my dad prepared me to raise a daughter the same way he did – to push her to do her best in whatever she does; stay-at-home mom, software engineer, NASA scientist, or President. There are no limits. Thank you dad!