Last year I wanted to be something more than just me. I wanted to feel proud of something that was only mine. I did a lot of soul searching, heart hunting, future forecasting...whatever you want to call it. What would make me most proud? What would give me that feeling of success? When it came down to it, I realized I always had one specific image in my head. I thought the ultimate success would be some version of my paintings being acknowledged by people who don't know me. But that never seemed to be what I would imagine when I thought about what success would look like in my life. I imagined something a lot more familiar. It always came back to you, Daddy. I would imagine you telling somebody about me. Every time I really pictured me feeling confident in this new path I was taking, feeling like I had walked it and found myself up a little higher on the mountain than before, a little stronger, a little braver....I would have this picture of you telling somebody with a big smile on your face, "Oh did you hear about Tessa? She is an amazing painter and started her own little business!" That was it. That was what I wanted. You thinking I am amazing.
I didn't want that because I had never gotten it from you. I wanted it because I have always gotten it from you. There is this quote I found a while ago: "If there is anything I have learned in my years as a parent, it is this: to champion for them. To fill them with love and hope and confidence. To make sure that when they hear beautiful things about themselves, they believe them- so that when the ugliness in this world tries to crush them, they have the strength to see the truth in their beauty." I don't know who the author is, but it could have been you. Not everybody will like my art. In fact, the truth is most people in this world will never even know it existed. But you gave me the confidence to dream anyway. There will be times when other people's words will try to crush me as I put myself out there because that's just part of the climbing. There will be months where I feel out of shape, out of breath, out of spirit. But you have given me a beautiful gift, Dad. In those moments where I stop to catch a breath and feel a little crushed, I can go back to what gave me the strength to start walking this path in the very beginning. You. You made this path feel comfortable, even recognizable. I knew I would start walking, it might be a little scary, but it would have a cheerleader. The same cheerleader that had believed in every dream I ever went for. My dad.
Thank you for always making me believe the beautiful things you said about me. Thank you for teaching me how to champion for my boys. I might not know much about being a boy, but you didn't know much about being a girl. You knew about being a believer. You let me "do" your hair, talk about boys, and tell you my dreams. You cried at my wedding, held me when I broke down from exhaustion with my first baby, and loved my passion for all things beautiful. You taught me that I don't have to know about being a boy, I just have to know my boys. I love you, Dad. Happy father's day.