4 Things I Learned From My Dad
When Molly Guy’s dad died a few months ago, the founder of Stone Fox Bride started a community called #cluboflostdaughters. Here she shares some life lessons her dad taught her.
Let’s be real: The Gram isn’t known for its unfiltered storytelling; however, Stone Fox Bride founder Molly Guy has been going against that grain, creating a hashtag #cluboflostdaughters, encouraging the cathartic sharing of stories of lost loved ones. The pet project was a reaction to the death of her father last January, a unique soul and a font of unconventional advice. “...He loved basketball and woodworking and Shabbat and the Bears and my mom, his wife of 45 years...” she posted the day after his death. Every day since, Molly has shared a daily tribute to her father, including images of her tear-drenched face, grainy pics from her childhood and ultra-candid anecdotes of their relationship through the years. Of the many, many things she learned from her dad, these four have had a lasting impact.
1. In Parenting There’s No Such Thing as an Imposition
On Saturday mornings my dad wouldn’t ask me what I wanted to do; he’d take me to the junkyard or the lumber yard, and then we'd go to the basement and build things out of our finds, such as crazy steering wheel contraptions or bunk beds for my dolls. He was very present and he always made time for me, whether I wanted him to or not. At night he would read the "Old Testament for Children," and I would be like, "Can I go watch Family Ties now?” He taught me many things: How to play catch, change a tire, play pool, wash the car and make pasta from scratch. (Don't ask me if I can still change a tire today.)Dad was not a touchy-feely Waldorfian kind of parent like, "Oh, sweet children, my job is just to nurture your tender and burgeoning interests." Sometimes you just need to impose your own agenda on your children – whether they like it or not. Sorry, Rudolf Steiner.
“Every Friday night now, I carry on the Shabbat tradition with my daughters . . . This ritual is non-negotiable. We hold hands. I know in a few years they’re going to be all ‘Mom, this is a major dork-fest, I wanna go vape on St. Marks in my belly shirt,’ and I’ll be like ‘Sit your ass down.’”
2. Tradition Is Everything
Tradition is what I remember most about my childhood. I think routine — doing the same thing over and over, again and again — builds pathways in a kids’ brains that create emotional security. It makes them feel cared for. The home should not be a risky place. It should be boring and rote. It should be the opposite of surprise. This most regularly manifested itself in my home every Friday night when we would have Shabbat dinner. During the week we’d sit around the kitchen table and eat regular dinner off regular plates, but on Friday nights we’d gather in the dining room with china, vintage silverware and challah. My mom would light candles and say prayers. Candle lighting is such an important part of Shabbat — we’d wave our hands around to “bring in the light” like my Nana did. Sometimes my mom would go in her study and get one of her dog-eared books and read some sort of postmodern feminist poem about the earth and spirituality. Or sometimes it would be an erotic poem and my siblings and I would die laughing and my parents would yell at us to leave the room.
Sometimes Dad would put on one of his old Bob Dylan or Beethoven records. It was just a very mellow time. There would usually be roast chicken and a salad dressed with my Dad’s tofu salad dressing, which was blended with anchovies. In the last few months of my father’s life, my sister and I hosted a Shabbat dinner every Friday at my sister’s house. Dad would hold court at the table, his face lit up by the warmth of the flames, and our kids would run around. It made him very happy. Every Friday night now, I carry on the Shabbat tradition with my daughters: prayers, candles, challah. This ritual is non-negotiable. We hold hands. I know in a few years they’re going to be all “Mom, this is a major dork-fest, I wanna go vape on St. Marks in my belly shirt,” and I’ll be like “Sit your ass down.”
3. Don’t Hire Anyone Who Didn’t Play a Team Sport
I never actually heeded this advice — I mean, I never played a team sport. My sport of choice was Camel Lights and thrift store shopping, but I really regret it now. My dad was a 6 foot 6 inch NCAA basketball player who also competed in the Senior Olympics in his 50s. He was a partner in my business, Stone Fox Bride, so later in my life, I was able to reap his business mentorship. My dad worked in real estate in Chicago and ran a commercial firm. One of the things he always asked potential hires in job interviews was if they played team sports in high school. He used to say he didn’t like to hire people if they didn’t play team sports.
"Three days before my Dad’s stem cell transplant, I was putting mascara on in his hospital room to go to a Christmas party because one of my friends was going to set me up with a famous actor. My dad got furious: 'This is the last thing you need, Molly! An actor! Just another charismatic scumbag who won’t respect you for your mind!'"
4. You’re Never Too Old to Work on Your Sh*t
Growing up, my dad was an angry guy, but as he got older, he went to therapy and dealt with his rage. He learned to manage his anger and by the time I was an adult, he was very mellowed out and self-aware. In the rare instances when he blew up, he would own his part and apologize, which is really rare and admirable — especially in an older man who is set in his ways. I give him a lot of credit for that. It’s important for kids to see that parents are people too, that even when they’re pissed as sh*t, they have flaws and make mistakes and are doing their best to engage with the world from a place of kindness and calm.
Three days before my Dad’s stem cell transplant, I was putting mascara on in his hospital room to go to a Christmas party because one of my friends was going to set me up with a famous actor. My dad became furious. He was like: “This is the last thing you need Molly! An actor! Just another charismatic scumbag who won’t respect you for your mind!” I was like: “Cut me some slack here, I am recently separated, can’t a girl have some fun?” and I stormed out. The next day he texted and said: “I’m sorry things got out of hand last night I WAS A MESS FROM ALL THE MEDS.” I texted back: “It’s okay, I was happy to see that you’ve still got some fire in you.” He wrote back: “Me and you, we’re always good, no matter what.” He died two weeks later.
Molly Guy is the founder and creative director of Stone Fox Bride and the author of “Love, Lust + Weddings for the Wild at Heart.” Follow her on Instagram @mollyrosenguy.