Okay, okay.. I caved in! I’m writing a post about my dad being my hero and all on father’s day (of all days..) BUT I really have been doing some quality life reflecting this afternoon and I’ve decided that my dad, Michael J. Swope, is the dad of ALL dads! However, I’m sure your dad is wonderful as well :).
I realize that a ‘Happy Father’s Day!’ post doesn’t strike you as a techno-logic article, and you’re right. That’s why I’m not wishing my dad a great day, I’m thanking him for raising two girls to believe they could conquer the world. More specifically, I’m thanking my dad for pushing me to widen my horizons, and allowing me to see the limitless options I have for an education, a career and potential interests in the world of tech (interests that I probably would have never had the confidence to see on my own).
You see, I was never “daddy’s little girl” and I never wanted to be. Actually my sister is THE token daddy’s little girl and she’s two years older than me so I settled on being different (and believe me when I say she deserves the position!). I honestly think my dad is, and has been, my best friend for my entire life. When we went on sailing trips, my dad was captain and I was first mate. When we went camping as a family, I was nailing the stakes while my dad held the tent in position.
My dad taught me everything I know, and he continues to educate & inspire me today. He has a head full of knowledge and he has worked very hard to reach all of the accomplishments he embodies today. For the first 5-6 years of my life, my family lived in Philadelphia–in my grandmother’s attic. My dad was in law school at the time- he had just graduated with a computer science degree. So, while he took on a few job entry level software jobs, he also was rigorously studying for a law degree and raising two rowdy baby girls. My mom was our support system, she worked as an accountant and made sure I went to the local preschool every morning. Even though things were a little crazy at the time, that didn’t constrain my dad from fulfilling his role as my father.
My parents, with the little extra money we had, would take us on road trips across America, cities in Mexico and museum gazing in Europe whenever they had a weekend off or time for vacation. They didn’t spend money on themselves because they wanted to show my sister and I the world while we were young in order for us to maintain a limitless perspective when we grew older.
We visited the pueblos in New Mexico and ate the oven baked bread offered to us. We toured the Notre Dame while feeding storms of hungry pigeons and still made time to see the wax museum in London. We walked across the bridges of Tijuana, Mexico with 5 dollars each- I remember I gave mine to a woman who was pregnant and alone.
Our travels weren’t relaxing. They weren’t luxurious. And that was the greatest gift of all. My sister and I had to fill out quiz questions and pamphlets while walking the deserts in Arizona. While in Italy, we stayed in a spare room of a woman’s home and welcomed her home cooked meal for dinner and slept with her kittens when we went to bed. In Mexico, we ventured out into the local cities around us and accidentally crashed a man’s 50th birthday party (but then we were invited and had the time of our lives).
My dad is a very smart man, and he believed in me and my potential as an individual in this world so much that it made me believe in myself.
I remember when I was choosing a career path after graduating high school, and all the dreams I had of growing up to be just like my dad were suddenly crumbling inside me. I kept thinking to myself that I don’t have any of the skills that my dad has- my dad is a hero! I could never be like him. I suddenly grew embarrassed that I made all those speeches about my future as a patent lawyer & engineer in middle school & high school. Me in tech? I would never be good at that kind of stuff, and no one would like me. They would be so much smarter than me.
I said these things to my dad after talking things through with myself and do you know what he said to me? Initially, he was silent. He was shocked that I could put myself down like that. Then he said, “Technology careers are interesting, women are great at it, and they get to work alongside extraordinary men and women. Being technology illiterate just doesn’t cut it anymore.” I still felt self conscious.
So, my dad did what he is great at doing. He built me up (like a buttercup, baby) and told me he believed in me, and he wouldn’t let me limit my potential by disbelieving in all that I could do.
My dad illustrated the impact a technical background can have on a woman’s career, and the economic potential that accompanies it. He told me that often women don’t understand what options are available in tech fields – and that stops them from pursuing it. My dad knew I could do it– and that was all I needed. With my dad rooting for me, I did it. Here I am now, dad, writing about you on my tech blog :).
In conclusion, I have a wonderful and inspiring father who gave me the confidence to be independent, strong and mindful in today’s tech savvy world. If I could bundle up all the thanks being said in the world right now into a bow wrapped package, I’d do it for you dad. You’ve accomplished so much throughout your life, and mine as well. I mean, look at you! Partner, and a patent attorney for one of the most influential law firms in America today? I’m proud of you, dad. And I still think it’s great how you pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day for lunch, and ride your bike to work to save gas.
I have the greatest dad in the whole universe (stars included), what about you? Are you thankful for you dad today?