Checking in with dad

Father’s Day is just around the corner so I thought I’d check in with the dad of the house.

How’re you doing?

A. Fine. Tired.

What’s your favorite thing about being a dad to two girls?

A. They see me as fun and I love that.

 What’s your favorite thing to do with them?

A. Everything is my favorite thing to do with them.

What’s the biggest challenge about parenthood that you didn’t see coming?

A. Personal time. It’s not that I didn’t see it coming, it’s just that you don’t know what that means until you can’t poop alone.

How do you think it’s changed our relationship?

We have a relationship?

Haha…ugghh…that’s depressing.

It’s not. It’s going to sound like it’s a bad thing, but in my mind it’s turned our relationship into a partnership. It made us a lot closer in a lot of ways, but a lot farther away in a lot of ways. It makes you appreciate each other I think. At least me anyway.

I think parenthood has shown me what I’m capable of. Do you think it has changed you in any way?

A. It makes me want to be better. It’s very important to show my girls what a good man looks like, what a good dad looks like, what a good husband looks like. All of those things they don’t know they’re learning, but they’re learning it. How I speak and the language that I use and how I talk about people and to people. Now it’s more important than ever because there are little people who are going to be doing what I’m doing and saying what I’m saying.

What are you most looking forward to doing with the girls as they get older?

A. I think about it in two ways. I’m really excited to see which one of them is into what I’m into. It would be so awesome if I could get one or both of them into archery, but I’m also really excited to see what they can get me into. Like, I live my world, but it’s pretty exciting to think about how they can influence me. I try to imagine, are they going to be athletes or artists? Or am I going to get super into physics or some scholastic thing? I like that stuff, but if they were into it then I would be super into it just so I could be at their level.

Plus as a dad you have to be one step ahead of everybody. So if they’re into math then I have to make sure I’m just a little bit better at math. I don’t know what moms feel like but dads are just supposed to be good at everything. Think about it, as a little kid, your dad was invincible. I’m not fully serious, but that’s what dads are to me.

How do you define a good dad?

A. In its simplest form a good dad is somebody who cares and can be a role model. And being a good role model means showing them how you treat yourself, how you treat other people, how you interact, how you resolve conflict by not losing your temper, that it’s never OK to treat people poorly. It’s very important to teach respect.

That will be one of the hardest challenges that we’re going to face as parents. How are we going to teach our kids to treat people with respect and dignity, to not be mean, not be a bully when they’re going to be bullied and people are going to be mean to them and they are going to be disrespected? How do you teach your kid to live one thing while understanding that you’re playing by a set of rules that other people aren’t going to play by?

 So what do you hope that they learn from you?

A. I think more than anything, and maybe especially because they’re girls, I want them to learn that they can do anything. I want them to be self-sufficient. There’s no reason that either of them can’t do anything that they want to do. And I want to give them the opportunity to do it and the know-how. I want to teach my kids that even if they don’t know how to do it, they know how to learn how to do it. I’ve always said from forever, that if I ever had girls they’re not going to be the kind of girls who have their boyfriends back their pickup and trailer up for them. That’s a metaphor for everything I think.

And I want to teach my girls to be what and who they are regardless of what anyone says and have the confidence to own that, because having that confidence is what’s going to make and break it for them. How do you give your kids confidence? I know you can break it, but can you give it?

I think you can.

I look to your dad a lot because he raised girls and he raised them here (on the ranch). I think you just do stuff with them, and you just keep doing it. And you know, knowing him now, I know that he was terrified, but he did it anyway. Because mostly being a parent is finding a new thing to be afraid of every single day. You figure one thing out just in time to learn the next thing to be scared of. That’s what being a dad is.

Oh man…some day they’re gonna start driving. I don’t even want to think about that.

I don’t want to think about that either. Last question. What would be the best Father’s Day ever?

A. Going fishing. Hopefully we would catch some fish because fishing isn’t very fun if you don’t catch fish.

You want to go fishing with Rosie? She’s crazy!

A. Yeah. I’ll give her a bucket of minnows and she’ll be so happy. She’ll probably eat a worm.

Checking in with dad


This month’s Prairie Parent is all about dads, of course!

With Father’s Day approaching and our house in a constant state of princess dress-up, meltdowns, sippy cups and dance parties, I’ve realized that while I delve pretty regularly into conversations with my sister and girlfriends about the challenges and tribulations of motherhood and how it’s transforming me in more ways than just turning my hair gray, it’s been a while since I’ve checked in with the only man in the house.


And so I did. I sat him down after bedtime and I asked him questions about what it means to him to be a dad, how he’s doing (tired) and why it is all so terrifyingly wonderful.

What he reveled is not only something that offered me precious new insight into my husband, but it also reminded me how important it is to talk, not just about the schedule and supper plans and grocery lists and chores, but about the big picture of the life we’re building here.

This Father’s Day I hope you take a minute to ask some of these questions. You won’t regret it. In fact, I dare say, you may regret it if you don’t.


Click here to read the full interview at
and then take a few moments to read some wonderful articles from our other great, regional contributors on surviving summer break, travel tips, Father’s Day gift ideas and more!

And Happy Father’s Day to the important men in our lives. We love you. We see you. We appreciate you.


Sunday Column: Rooted

My dad is a man who is rooted.

He knows what he loves and he loves it wholeheartedly. He showed us how to stay planted while finding our wings. He taught us how to sing and how to ride a horse.

He taught us that sometimes the best idea is to take a moment to sit on the hilltop, look around and say “wow, isn’t this something.”

His outlook on life has been his greatest gift to me. His love for place flows through our blood.

Happy Father’s Day to a man who worked hard to make this my home.

Coming Home: Discovering history, past and future
by Jessie Veeder
Fargo Forum 

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.