John F. Russell: This dad finds meaning on Father’s Day |

John F. Russell: This dad finds meaning on Father’s Day

— I knew when my son was born a little more than 16 years ago that being a dad is a huge responsibility. As he grew up, I learned that knowing was different than understanding just how important my role would be.

Sure, I was ready to help him find his balance on his first bike ride, I was eager to teach him how to pull a trout out of a clear, cold mountain lake and I knew it was my responsibility as a father to let him know that there is only one football team worth cheering for, and its uniforms are orange and blue.

But he taught me that there is a lot more to being a father.

He taught me that his dreams were my dreams, his needs were my needs and that if he was happy, then I was happy. A few years later, my daughter was born and raising my children in a happy home was a top priority for me and my wife.

I’ve always been there for my children. I was there for the day care and middle school graduations, I went to the elementary school talent shows, the piano recitals and the band concerts. I’ve been to a long list of children’s events — the events that make Steamboat Springs such a great place to grow up.

But those things are expected.

I enjoy spending my weekends with my children racing down the slopes of Mount Werner, or in the park across the street from our house kicking the soccer ball with my daughter.

But it wasn’t until I lost my wife to cancer two years ago that I truly learned what it meant to be a father. Sure, I was always great at the fun things in life, but I’ve come to understand that it’s the details that keep the train on the track. Making sure the children’s schedules fit together like a puzzle, making sure they have the right clothes for that dance or band concert and that they have all the things they need when they leave for school at the start of the day.

After more than 16 years as a dad, the last two years have been an education. The train still is on the track, but there are times when I think the brakes are failing. I’ve learned there are times when you just have to hold on and take the ride.

I’ve learned that being a good dad is about a lot more than sports, or introducing my son to bands like Quite Riot or the Eagles. Yes, those things are important, but you can’t have the fun times without taking care of the millions of details that overwhelm our daily lives.

So this weekend, I plan to celebrate Father’s Day with all the other dads in Steamboat Springs, but I also understand that being a father is not easy. The true rewards of being a father have nothing to do with the card or the gifts we will get Sunday.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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