What it takes to be a dad

I’ve always said that men can’t multi-task. This weekend Husband proved me wrong.

Apparently it just depends on the task.

This is fatherhood.

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I’ve wondered a long time how it would look on him.

On Sunday mornings when we don’t have to rush off to some big chore right away, it looks like this.

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And on nights when things are rough (like when she’s cutting top and bottom teeth at the same time and mom had nothing but a granola bar and guacamole for breakfast, lunch and supper) it looks like this.

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And while there’s no question that there is plenty of sacrifice in being a mother, I think sometimes we’re guilty of skipping over the dad part.

Like, we just got in from a beautiful summer evening, an evening Husband could have used  to fix fence or ride through the cattle or go fishing or drink beer on the deck, pretty much anything else in the world, but he didn’t. Instead he spent it in his fancy shirt carting the baby around the hills and smiling for a photographer so we could get those family photos I’ve been talking about for weeks.

And while I will admit that I’ve complained plenty during my six + months of being a momma (knowing full well I should just shut my mouth and be grateful after all we’ve gone through to get to this point but sometimes I’m tired and sometimes it’s hard) but I will tell you the truth here, the man I married hasn’t complained one moment about his role as a dad.

Not one moment.

Even when I leave for the night and she only wants mom and lets him know it loudly and for a long time.

Even when she poops through her pants and on to his.

Even when he has to leave his perfectly cooked steak at the table to bounce her on his knee.

Even when he has to take part of the day off work to give me the chance to do my work.

Even when she cries in her carseat the whole hour drive home, and so do I.

And what great qualities to find in a man, the ones that aren’t written about in the Cosmo Magazine articles about dating and finding a perfect match, the ones that will make him a good father to the kids you may one day have together. The most important ones.

Turns out, in the end, it isn’t his six pack abs or his high paying power career or his kick ass karaoke skills that really matter when you find yourself at your wits end because you can’t get the damn carseat installed or you need someone you can count on to get home from work when he says he’ll be home from work because you have a deadline or somewhere you have to be. No. All those things are fun and the karaoke skills may come in handy for the lullabies, but it’s the steadiness, the strength of character, the reliability that matters the most when you need it the most. Because turns out the task of raising a human just might be the most terrifying and wonderful and most important part of your relationship. And so you should pick accordingly.

Not something you really think of when he put a ring on it.

But it’s true.

And after a long day with a teething baby where I only had granola and guacamole for breakfast, lunch and supper, I am glad to be in the trenches with a man who was built for this stuff.

And I’m so glad to know that I did something right, picking him to be Edie’s dad.

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Happy Father’s Day to you and to all the good ones out there.

Love,

Your girls

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Sunday Column: The Red Guitar

A couple weeks ago at a show, I met a man who suggested that I write a few columns about my guitars. He is in a band himself and had seen me play a few times, and had taken notice of my different guitars, and being a musician he knew there was likely a story behind them.

So this week I took him up on that suggestion (it was a good suggestion) and wrote about one of the most important guitars in my life.

Coming Home: From first memory to now, guitars hold an elusive sway
by Jessie Veeder
4-10-16
Forum Communications

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I love guitars. I love the way they look sitting in the corner of a house. I love how they feel in my hands; the new ones shiny with promise of the music that is to come, the old ones worn from years of picking.

Because you know how everyone has a first memory? That moment you look back on where you were the youngest version of yourself you knew. Maybe it’s only a few moments in time, but it was so powerful that you hang onto it hard and forever, whether you want to or not.

That memory is a guitar to me, dancing in the basement of our old house while my dad played his red Guild and sang a song I don’t remember. But I do remember the brown shag carpet and how he wore his hair a little too long and how his wide, leathery fingers eclipsed the strings at the neck as he swayed back and forth and tapped his foot, just a little bit off of the rhythm of the song he was singing and picking — the same way he does today. And I remember wanting him to let me pluck the strings on my own, so I could make the music come from that mysterious instrument.

That red guitar.

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The guitar still remains a mystery to me, how six strings touched the right way can produce sounds that make you laugh and cry and tap your toes or sing words you didn’t even know you had in you.

It’s amazing that the sounds coming out of a body made of wood can be so different depending on who’s touching it. I’m in awe that a guitar can transform a campfire, a living room or a makeshift stage into a world where love is lost and found, real cowboys still exist, summer always stays.

Yes, the guitar remains elusive to me even though every person in my family, as a sort of right of passage, owns their own version of the instrument, tucked away in basements or propped up next to the piano or the living room couch. It’s a necessity. Whether or not you ever learn to play it, you need it there next to you in case you or a guest are ever so inclined.

I’ve had in my possession a number of guitars in my life, all given to me by my dad based on his judgment on what would be the best fit for me. From the old Taylor I play today to the green Takamine I got when I convinced my parents that the guitar was more my instrument than the saxophone I played in band class, so we traded it in, as my dad does with guitars and horses.

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I found out later that’s what happened with the red Guild. I showed interest in taking up an instrument for band class in fourth grade and so dad traded it for a saxophone.

Oh, if guitars could talk! I suppose I could say that for instruments of all kind, but I’m partial to the guitar. I think they’d have the best stories.

That red Guild found its way back to the ranch eventually, another of dad’s trades of an amp or a banjo, so that he could pass that guitar along to my little sister when she went to college. I liked to imagine her sitting behind it, so far away from the buttes of the ranch, closing her eyes, plucking the strings and hearing the sounds of home.

That Guild sits in its case propped up in the corner of the house she now shares with her husband, holding in it stories about her dad playing in bar bands and coffeehouses before she was born and memories of three little girls twirling, laughing and singing along in the basement of a little old house.

Yes, all of the guitars I’ve possessed have given me something — confidence, my first song, a stronger voice. But it’s the one I never owned, the one that gave me my first chord and let loose the music inside of me, that has been my greatest gift.

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Happy Birthday Pops!

We’re celebrating Pops’ birthday today.

We’re putting up a tent and tapping a keg and setting up the instruments. His brother is coming, his cousins and our cousins and his sister too. My grandparents and my mom’s sister from Arizona. Our neighbors and friends and buddies from the band and we’re going to celebrate and we’re not going to give a shit if it rains.

Pops hasn’t cursed the rain a day in his life.

And what a life to celebrate.

Every day is a gift under this sky. Don’t we know it.

Every day is a gift.

And today is a beautiful one.

Dierks Bentley-Beautiful World (Featuring Patty Griffin)

 

Sunday Column: On the little yellow boat…

April did us a favor and, after bringing us a little spring storm, it warmed up nicely this weekend. 50 degrees uncovered all sorts of treasures for us, mostly mud and things stuck in mud…like dog poop, leftover construction materials and the Christmas tree that made it out the door, but not quite to the garbage pit.

We set out then in that spring air to do some tidying. When the weather warms up I get crazy. I want to do everything that I haven’t been able to do (because of the seven months of snow and subzero temperatures) all in one day.

I want to till up the garden spot. I want to plant grass seeds. I want to finish the garage. I want to ride all eight horses. I want to buy baby chicks from Tractor Supply. I want to roll up my pants and wade in the creek. I want to fix the barn. I want to start our landscaping project. I want to work on my tan. I want to go swimming. I want to make margaritas and grill burgers and have a deck party.

I want to buy a boat…

I think brown dog has the same idea…

Yes, a few days of warm weather will get the plans rolling. And the smell of the thaw, the sound of the water, the blue sky and sun and things uncovered by melting snow had me poking around the place, in search of projects, things I could accomplish.

And in my search I stumbled upon one of the ranch’s most unique relics. Sitting next to the shop covered loosely by a blue tarp and snow turned to ice water is Husband’s yellow boat, the one he brought with us to the ranch when we were first married. The one he built with his dad during the long winter nights when we were all just trying to make it out of high school alive.

The one he took me out in, to go fishing down in Bear Den, a little unknown nook of Lake Sakakawea a few miles from the ranch. The tiny hand-made boat where we sat back to back and trolled the shore, with nothing but sun-seeds, a couple beers and worms in our cooler.

And when the sun started sinking down below those buttes that surrounded the lake, it was that boat that got us stuck. Stuck in mud up to the floorboards of Husband’s little Dodge.

And there we sat. The little pickup connected to the little boat, stuck in the bottom of a badlands canyon, a new husband scratching his head and a wife in flip-flops clawing her way up the steep, cactus ridden banks that held them on a prayer that maybe her cell phone might find enough signal to call Pops to come and rescue them.

Pops, who had no idea where they went in the first place.

Pops, who wasn’t home, but got the message an hour or so later..

“Dad…*scratch scratch*…stuck….*static static*….Bear Den…*crackle crackle*…”

When I think spring I think of that fishing trip with my husband. When I think of that fishing trip, I think of that boat. When I think of that boat I think about mud and dads and how they have so many ways of saving us…

So I wrote this.

Coming Home: Little yellow boat never meant for fishing
(I’m having trouble with my hyperlinks,
please click URL below to read the column)
http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/431239/
by Jessie Veeder
4-6-14
http://www.inforum.com

Happy thaw out. May this season bring mud and good memories….

This is my dad

This is my dad.

You may have met him here before in various circumstances. I talk about him a lot, you know, cause I’m his side kick. I guess I always have been. He’s been the harmonica to my guitar, the harmony to my solo, the encouragement behind the uncertainty, the swat on my horse’s rump when is time to get going and pretty much the one person in this world who understands what it’s like to have a nose that seems to keep growing, despite the fact that neither one of us has successfully pulled off a lie.

We share some of the same qualities, my pops and I. I think it drives my family crazy. I mean the big nose and curly hair are a few of the obvious, but the lame jokes and over enthusiasm for the little things (like a field of wildflowers, deliciously ripe tomatoes, a perfectly placed breeze and a song that warrants discussion and repeat plays) are sometimes annoyingly perky and overly positive for members of the Veeder clan who have heard enough already and really don’t care for tomatoes, thanks very much.

We have a tendency to go on and on.

Anyway, yes, pops and I are cut from the same cloth, that’s for sure. But there is one important quality I didn’t inherit from him, or if I did, it’s hidden somewhere down deep and I’m waiting for it to come forth and show itself.

Pops is cool.

Here he is riding a bronc with a broken arm. Seriously. See the cast?

Yup, he’s cool like that.

I mean, the man spent most of his life on the back of horses he worked to get to stop bucking only to willingly get on the back of broncs he hoped would buck like hell.

And bulls. I think he might have done the same with bulls.

Yup. Cool.

Cool like the lead singer of a traveling band who drove around the countryside playing dances and events in this really sweet bus.

In high school.

Give me a break.

I mean, the guy’s got stories, and sometimes, when his brother’s in town or his best bud comes down for coffee or a beer, I get to hear them. I just stay quiet and listen, laugh and can’t believe it.

I can’t believe this man who has been singing Neil Young songs for swaying audiences since he was fifteen years old understood the importance of teaching those songs to his daughters, giving them a guitar of their own and letting them tag along if they wanted to.

I always wanted to.

Come to think of it, I can’t believe a man who’s been thrown from the backs of countless horses gets all up in arms, pissed actually, when one of his own hits the dirt in the same fashion. Shit happens, yes. But he can’t stand it.

Which brings me to the daughters thing. He has three. Yup. He was pops to three little girls with grass stained knees who somewhere along the line became three grown women.

And he has found himself the only man of the house for the last 28 years.

The only man.

I have always wondered about this, wondered what the good Lord was thinking granting a man like this, a man who could teach a son a few things about being a cowboy, hunter, fisherman, tractor driver and all things some little boys are made of, three wild-haired daughters with wills like the wind. 

I always wondered if a son would have made his life easier, more fulfilling, although I never wondered if he wished for one. He never made us feel that way. He just took us along.

And riding shotgun in the pickup or sitting beside him as he played his guitar I worked to learn as much as possible from him about ranching and cattle and music and what it means to truly love a place and love your family beyond measure.

I continue to learn from him every day.

It took me a while to understand this, but as we celebrated Father’s Day yesterday and pops’ three daughters were scattered across the prairie raising a baby, visiting a boyfriend and rolling in late with a pickup full of kayaks and chicken for dinner, it became very clear to me the type of man it takes to raise daughters.

As I looked at the lines on my pop’s face I realized that his whiskey voice, silver hair and disjointed nose may have emerged during his time on the back of bulls, driving too fast or singing in bar bands–but that was just practice, a workout, training so he could build himself some muscles.

Muscles to lift his girls up on the back of horses, into pickups, and off the ground when a fall broke their bones or a boy broke their heart–muscles to lift bags and beds and boxes into their cars…

…and guts to watch them kick up dust on the road as they drove up on over the horizon and out on their own.

Guts to walk them down the aisle only to leave the light on, just  in case they ever need to come home…

Because it’s men whose heart and mind have always been open to adventure, surprise, opportunity and wild rides; men with gentle hands and expectations who stay up late at night without complaint waiting for the car to pull into the drive, no matter the hour; men with enough hair to hold a colorful array of barretts and enough security in their manhood to show up to work with remnants of pink nail-polish on their fingernails; it’s only the strongest men, only the manliest men, the most composed, most tender- hearted, most exceptional men…

…the coolest men who are blessed and charged with making sure little girls understand that they have muscles of their own.

Happy Father’s Day Pops. Thanks to you I get stronger every day.