Father's Day 2023: Embrace the journey, dads — and those ties, too | Opinion
June 16, 2023
By Mark Schiff
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God opens up the Bible with “Be fruitful and multiply.” Adam translated it to “Eat fruit and multiply” but that decision cost him. What it means is that it is a parent’s commandment from God to have children and to then spend time teaching them values by being an example of the behaviors you want them to learn, and the creed you would like your children to pass on to their children. I have been on tour doing standup comedy with Jerry Seinfeld for the past 25 years. Whenever Jerry and I get together, we always discuss comedy, marriage and like any proud parents — our kids. Unanimously, we agree that becoming a father has been the most important thing we have ever done — not to mention that it has brought us lots of new material. I learned from my dad how vitally important it is to spend time with your kids. Growing up, when my father took the car for an oil change, I always went along. I would stand there holding his hand as the car went up on the lift watching as the oil was drained from its engine.
My dad was a truck driver. During the summer, I worked alongside him 12 hours a day and loved every minute of it. He passed away more than three decades ago, yet certain memories do not fade with time. They become even more important. I would give anything to have a few of those moments back holding his warm hand and doing nothing more than watching oil flowing out of our car into a big drum. Learning to be a good father did not come naturally to me. I made countless mistakes, but read books, took classes, and spent lots of time talking with my wife and other fathers in order to be a better dad to my kids. Talking to other fathers was a lifesaver, and one thing it taught me was that being a father is never-ending. Even in death, some believe you continue to watch over your children. I believe my dad watches me and one day I will do the same for my kids. I have been a standup comedian for over 40 years. When I was not on the road working, every Saturday morning the kids and I would walk to synagogue to celebrate Shabbat. From our home, it is about 40 minutes round trip. Those walks are some of my most cherished memories. There is a saying, “Comedy is a serious business.” So is fatherhood, but you also need some funny business while raising kids. My wife and I have three boys. I half-joked that if I knew we were having all boys, I would have named them Moe, Larry and Curly after the Three Stooges. Instead, we landed on Jacob, Eli and Noah, though the way they bopped each other on the head throughout their childhood, Moe, Larry and Curly could have easily worked. My wife breastfed all three and my job was to serve as their valet, bringing them from their crib to her in the middle of the night and when they were done noshing, bringing them back to their room. One night, as I was reaching into the crib, I realized that this one minute alone with my son would not last forever and that being a good dad was a one-shot deal, and I should consider this, and every, minute alone with them a gift. Some 30 years later, I am still exhausted from getting up each night. But it was well worth the price. Many years ago, while driving home with my then-6-year-old son, we spotted maybe 200 people outside of a building looking upward. I pulled over for a look-see and saw, clinging to a flagpole on the roof a naked man. I called my wife, “Honey there is a naked man on a flagpole. Jacob and I stopped to watch.” Astounded she said, “You’re not serious, are you? He’s 6! Get him home NOW!” Our home is just a few blocks from a spot where the police wait to catch drivers making an illegal right turn. One of our favorite pastimes was when my sons and I would sit in our car watching the police stop drivers, laughing our heads off as they got tickets. Every time a cop pulled someone over, we would all yell, “Got ‘em!” and choke with laughter. Not only was it incredibly fun, but they're more careful making right turns. Now my son, the one I took to watch a naked man on a flagpole, is married and has two kids both under 3 that run around naked much of the time. If one day I look on his roof and spot a flagpole, I’ll know my wife was right. Like I did with him, he spends lots of time with his kids. His wife says he is the best father ever and there is nothing that makes me prouder. Because they watched me buy flowers for my wife every Friday, both of my married sons buy flowers for their wives every week. It is a good feeling knowing I did something right. Becoming a father was not easy and came with many challenges, but the rewards far outweigh the difficulties and sleepless nights. Fatherhood has taught me the true definition of love. The more you give, the more you love. Being a father means giving, giving — and more giving. The memories we create as fathers and the values we impart are the legacies we leave behind. So, to all the fathers out there, let's embrace the journey, and let me know what color tie they got for you this Father’s Day.
Happy Father’s Day! Mark Schiff is a 50-year veteran comedian who has performed regularly alongside Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Maher, Paul Reiser, Jay Leno and many other comedians. His recent book, “Why Not? Lessons on Comedy, Courage, and Chutzpah,” focuses on his drive to entertain, how his tenacious personality helped him learn from and persevere through life’s toughest challenges and his ethos of using his experiences to help entertain others.