On Being a Dad

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I have shared my family with you before. I have also shared with you how important my family is to me and I am a firm believer that family is everything.

I come from a large family- I am the oldest of five. There is me, then three boys and then my little sister. This is what our family looked like in 1988.

Our parents raised us and did the very best they could. We were broke, as many people are. My family struggled significantly in more ways than one. Our father fought many demons. While our childhood is not something I plan to air at this moment, I want you to get the overall picture. My parents have five children who are quality, giving, noble adults. If we chose, we easily could have been very lost children who grew up to be very lost adults and repeated many cycles.

Our childhood has shaped us into the parents we are today. In turn, we are also a solid foundation for one another- if your ship is sinking we’re all jumping in with you. It’s all for one and one for all.

Over Spring Break, my oldest brother and his wife and kids, went with my husband and me to visit my in-laws in San Antonio for the week. One of those days we were there we made a trip to Corpus Christi to show our kids the ocean.

I look at my nephew, Troy, who is my brother’s oldest child, and I see my brother 25 years ago.

Troy’s build, stature and demeanor are all duplicated.   Troy is my brother James made over- he is one of my childhood friends reinvented.

james and troy at the beach

My brother is always there. He never misses a game, he seeks every opportunity, he is present, he is aware. His kids know he loves them.

The thing is, no one really ever taught him how to be a dad. No one really taught any of my brothers how to be a dad, but they all have this instinct. They own their role.

Showing love was something that was very hard for our dad to do when we were growing up. I think as we are adults it is something he likely regrets. None of us blame him, he really simply did the best he could.

But to see my brothers being a dad is the most amazing thing.

When we left the beach this particular day, my brother walked next to his daughter. The kids were tired from running on the beach. We were a bit sun burned and the salt water was hard on their skin. Actually, we had not planned to swim because it was not warm enough, but the kids begged to get in. Their clothes were soaked as we walked back to the car, unprepared and we knew we had to make a stop at the nearest Walmart for something dry to wear.

But everyone had fun and that is what counted most.

My brother turned to Gracie, his daughter who will be five in just a few weeks, as we walked to the car. He said the sweetest words to her, his tone was so soft. He said, ” Gracie, you looked beautiful on the beach today.” My heart melted.

gracie at the beach

Later that day Gracie was riding in our car and a song came on the radio about a man buying a woman flowers.

Gracie chimes in. She tells us her daddy has bought her and her mommy beautiful flowers before. She was so honest and so confident.

wyatt at the beach

Have I mentioned how proud I am of my family? I know how lucky we are. And I absolutely admire the fathers and men my brothers have grown up to be.

(These picture I took from my sister-in-law. She is their mother, my brother’s wife. She is also a photographer and the owner of these images.)


  1. Lynn McWhirter says:

    This story was so touching. Wonderful job Crystal. Family is everything. Without family a person has nothing.

    1. Your brother is my son in law. As a mother, you want your little girl to grow up and meet a man who will complement her as a person, appreciate her strengths, and love her as she is. As a couple you want them to work together in all that they do and value each others dreams and aspirations. Most of all, you want to know they live for your grandchildren and value each teaching moment. Your brother is a man of character, integrity, and wisdom beyond his years. For him it is a simple formula. He comes home everyday to his family because he loves them and that is where he wants to be. What more could I ask for? He is a blessing.

  2. It seems to be a generational thing. My husband’s father never told him he loved and never once played catch with him. My dad worked hard and provided but was never around for us. My husband has been an amazing father. I wonder what made our children’s generation of fathers so much better…

    1. Hi Lori!!

      It brought a smile to my face to see you here. I love your site and I soak up every bit of your marital advice and parenting advice. You are such a wise woman.

      I think for our situation, we know the parents we want to be because we know the parents we don’t want to be. Does that make sense? So it has mostly been knowing the effort and expectations we are purposeful in, to ensure those cycles are not repeated.

      1. Awww! Thanks, Crystal. Your reply brought a big smile to my face! There is nothing like a solid marriage and well-behaved children, that is for sure. I feel very blessed to have you as one of my readers.

  3. Kim Idell says:

    In tears here. I would love to have the relationships that you have with your family. I heart you guys! 🙂

    1. Awe, Kim. You are so sweet! You can be part of our family too! There is always room for more. 🙂

      Should I have warned a mascara alert?

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