To celebrate Father’s Day, TIME once again teamed up with Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg’s women’s empowerment foundation, to ask famous dads to write open letters to their daughters. The responses were equal parts heartwarming (Jorge Ramos: “There’s a beautiful picture of us, with you sleeping on my chest. You were only a few weeks old and I was clearly mesmerized by you. That moment…is my idea of happiness”) and hilarious (Carson Daly: “Be honest, be kind, strive for a life of balance and it’s okay if you get a tattoo WHERE I CAN SEE IT”). Below, personal messages from Bobby Jindal, Matt Lauer, Terry Crews and more.
Azriel, Naomi, Tera and Wynfrey
Hey kids, it’s Dad.
Yes, the world knows me by many different names—and most of them are Terry Crews, the actor. But you and I know better. You’ve seen me at my best and my worst. You’ve told me when I’ve had stuff on my chin and advised me when my clothes don’t match. You are always there to give me shouts of praise when I proclaim I got the job and kind hugs when I come home sad that I didn’t. I love those hugs. I also love fixing breakfast for you guys before school, and knowing who likes peanut butter on their waffles (Wynfrey), or who is allergic to that same peanut butter (Tera). I know who likes to sleep in (Azriel), who wakes up grumpy (Isaiah), and used to wake me up in the morning without fail (Naomi). I love those moments, and I love you.
I still can’t get over how fast it all goes. Naomi and Azriel, you are grown and on your own, while Tera, you’ll be 16 soon and not far behind your sisters. Wynfrey and Isaiah, being 11 and 8, feel like they’ll be here with Mom and Dad forever. I know this because I thought the same thing when I was their age. But lo and behold, in the blink of an eye I’m 45 with my own family — although I never seemed to grow past 14 in my head.
To my four daughters, and my granddaughter Miley, I want to tell you to never take a back seat to any man, anywhere. You are not subordinate. You are equal in worth, value, intelligence and authority so don’t let anyone tell you different. This world is chock-full of many patriarchal, chauvinistic, erroneous beliefs about a woman’s “place” in society — some of which I accepted as truth until your mom showed me the error of my ways. I realized that I was only operating at half-speed while I clung to the “man’s manly way” of doing things. When I threw all that junk away, my life took off. And I know you ladies, especially my eldest two, can notice the difference.
I remember hearing a story about how 200 girls in a foreign country were given a “naming ceremony” by their government because they were actually named “Unwanted” by their parents. I looked at the photos of their little faces, smiling as they held certificates showing the new names they had picked for themselves — “Brave”, “Beautiful,” assorted names of admired celebrities. And I wept. Because I could not stop looking at the photo and seeing you—the only difference being the fact that you are wanted. And because I know how deserving of love you and the rest of those young ladies are. I admire the courage the girls displayed in naming themselves, and I want you to have courage, too. Go for your dreams. And even though we may not agree on them, know that I will always support and love you no matter what.
To my one and only son, please know that every good woman that is placed in your life — be it your mom, sisters, family members, friends, or future wife—is there to make you a better man. Empathize with them, and never buy in to the lie that your physical strength makes you somehow above them. A man’s strength is for building and protecting his family. I see how strong and handsome you are becoming, and everyone in the world will give you praise for that. But know that it takes the strongest man to admit he needs help, and a man’s pride can be his downfall. Humble yourself so no one else has to humble you. I learned these lessons the hard way.
Finally, I’ve heard it said that the best thing a man can do for his kids is love their mother, and I couldn’t agree more! You have the best mom in the world, who will fight heaven and earth to make sure you have the opportunity to live your best life. I hold her when she cries over you, celebrate with her over your good news, and see firsthand how her heart bubbles over with love for you. I love your mother with all my heart, and vow to take good care of her for all of her days here on earth, and I think that’s a pretty good gift to all you. I love you!
DadCrews stars on FOX’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine and is the new host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? His memoir, MANHOOD, is in stores now.
Gov. Bobby Jindalto
It was that smile. I knew the answer before I ever asked the question. But I wanted to see that smile again. That’s why I asked the question. I must have asked you a thousand times. And every time you gave me the same answer, “an astronaut!” I knew the answer already, I just wanted to see that smile again. It was a smile that made me smile. It was a smile born of confidence, strength, and adventure. It was, as if, at the age of five, you had seen all there was to see here on earth and needed new frontiers to explore.
So your mom and I sent you to space camps. We bought you books and toys to feed your appetite for space exploration. But, eventually, as these things go, you got older, lost interest in space, and decided to explore some of the joys God blessed us with here on earth.
I watched your creativity as you explored the subtle beauty of the colors of paint on a canvas. I watched your tenderness and compassion as you experienced the joy of caring for your baby cousins. And I see your determination and discipline as you pursue excellence in school.
But I will never forget the beauty, confidence, and strength I saw in that smile.
God has blessed you with such a tremendous heart, and gifted mind. I don’t know what God has in store for your life, but I know it will be good, because He is good. And I know it will take strength, courage, and compassion to get through it, because that’s how He builds our Faith.
And, most importantly, I know you are ready for it, because I’ve seen that smile.
I love you,
The funny thing about planned C-sections is that it’s the father who gets to hold the baby first!
While the doctors were tending to your mom in the minutes after you were born, they gently washed your face, wrapped you in blankets, and then turned and placed you in my arms. I spent the next half hour or so holding you and looking down with amazement at your face. You were flushed from the journey from the internal to the external world, with that head full of the dark flowing hair I’ve come to search for in the crowd of your classmates when I pick you up after school.
And you were quiet! So quiet, as you lay there swaddled and staring into my eyes. I knew you weren’t focusing on anything in particular, but I convinced myself that you couldn’t take those beautiful brown eyes off of my handsome face! In those first moments together, the die was cast, the hook was set, and my heart was stolen. In the ten years that have followed, you have proven the cliché to be true. Yes, little girls really do cast a spell on their dads.
You’ve grown so fast and embraced so much — passing through some of the expected phases with little more than a brief pause, before stepping boldly into the next.
How did we get from those hysterical ballet lessons at the age of four, to the princess phase, when everything in your world had to be pink? How did we get from the little girl who loved animals to your fearlessness on horseback, despite the occasional trip to the emergency room? And how did you come to decide that you wanted to be one of just a few young ladies in our town to play little league baseball? Did you have any idea how my heart was bursting with pride?
I’ll never forget the second game of that first season. When you came up to bat, I was right there at the backstop twenty feet away as that pitcher hit you square in the back with a fastball. It was as if he had hit me because, for a second, that pitch knocked the wind out of me! I watched your face as you steeled yourself and began to trot down to first base. I wanted desperately to run onto the field to see if you were OK, but Fatherhood 101 took a backseat to the fear that you would never talk to me again. You stood on first and wiped a tear from your eye. When your coach quietly asked if you wanted to stay in the game, you shook your head with all the determination you could muster, and said, “Yes!” I’ll hope you know there is nothing you could ever give me for Father’s Day that could top the gift you gave me in that moment.
Romy, thank you for being the kind of sister you are to Jack and Thijs. They love you dearly, and mom and I are so proud of you all.
Thank you for the gift of your compassion — for always being the first to want to help others, whether they’re friends or total strangers.
Thank you for your humor and even your moods — because one gets us all through the other.
On this father’s day, I want you to know that I feel I’m right where I belong — tightly wrapped around your little finger.
I love you,
My Darling Simone:
In the Spring of 2008 I was working at home when Mommy came in to tell me we were having another baby. The truth is I was thrilled and terrified at the same time. Thrilled that our family was growing, but terrified because after having your brother Max, I didn’t think I could possibly have any more love left in my heart. My fears vanished the moment I set eyes on you eight months later.
Nearly six years have gone by and my love for you grows by the minute. Cuddling with you in front of the TV, reading books, singing together, wrestling, playing Monopoly, telling silly jokes — these may seem like simple things, but they have truly been the happiest moments of my already-blessed life.
Do you know how my heart leaps when I come home and you run into my arms yelling “Daddy”? How wonderful it is to scoop you up and smother you with kisses? There is nothing that could happen to me that is so bad that one of your hugs couldn’t make it better.
I smile every time I think of you. Not only are you gorgeous like your mother, but you are beautiful inside as well. Last year, when I dropped you at school one day, you and another little girl clasped hands and began dancing in a circle. A third girl tried to join in, but your friend wasn’t interested in sharing you. When you noticed the other little girl was left out, you broke the circle, gave her your hand and invited her in to the group. That is the person I always want you to be.
I love your tenacity, the way you fight like hell to hang on to a soccer ball no matter how many boys gang up on you. I love your passion, how you belt out “Let it Go” as if you were starring on Broadway.
You are brilliant in ways I’ll never be, with a level of understanding well beyond your years. And your memory! Not only could you name every state and capital by age three, but you can still recall with perfect clarity (and delight) the time the bird pooped on my shoulder in Hawaii.
Which brings me to your incredible sense of humor, that delicious dimpled smile and the mischievous sparkle in your eye that says “I get it.”
When you were 4 years old, I was making breakfast for you and your brother and you repeatedly asked me to bring you things — more juice, more strawberries, etc. Finally, in exaggerated exasperation, I said “What do I look like, a waiter?” Without missing a beat you replied “Actually, you look like an ogre.” I couldn’t have been more proud.
By far the hardest thing about being your Dad is letting you fail. I despise every bruise, every belly ache and every hurt feeling you get, but I also know that letting you work things out yourself is how you’ll grow to be the strong, independent woman I want you to be.
I can’t count how many times I’ve stood by biting my lip as you struggled with the tricky buttons of a sweater or watched with my heart in my mouth as you hung upside down on the monkey bars. But that’s my job – to be there when you need me, to love you always and to kindle the flames of your confidence until you’re strong enough to keep those fires burning yourself.
Can I tell you a secret? You know how when we’re walking to school I forget to stop holding your hand even way after we’ve crossed the street? I don’t really forget to let go, it’s that I don’t want to, ever. The day will be here soon enough when you’ll be too big and too embarrassed to let me hold your hand at all, and I want to savor every second of it while I can.
One day, a long time from now, you’ll have a child of your own. Then you’ll begin to understand how much I love you.
Happy Fathers Day to me.
All my love always,
That’s how I have you listed in my phone, with the exclamation point, so it’s a good way to start this letter. It’s both a recognition of the way you make my heart soar and the way you live your life. Please keep doing both.
When you were little, and we lived in Chicago, I’d frequently take you on Saturdays and Sundays for brunch, just the two of us. One day when you were about 4, you had a bowl of bananas for breakfast, and you attracted the attention of two women sitting next to us. One of the women remarked to you that it was great you liked fruit. You looked at her, waited until you’d stopped chewing (a talent your brother has yet to master) and then replied “These are bananas.” The woman laughed at the response and said, in a very teacherly voice “Well, bananas *are* fruit.” You looked down at the bowl, looked at me, looked back at the woman, then calmly told her “Bananas are bananas.”
I’m often reminded of that moment when I observe your understated confidence and clarity of judgement (now somewhat more refined). Your moral compass is ‘true north’. It is a gift, and an inspiration, and I am delighted and proud to support you as you enter this transition into adulthood. You are a bright light. I love you. I am grateful to have you define me as a father.
DadCostolo is the CEO of Twitter.
Annie and Katie
Dear Katie and Annie,
When a dad first looks at his baby daughter, he falls so completely in love he wants nothing more than to keep her happy for the rest of his life. That song your Mom and I sing to you at night sometimes is one we wrote right after Katie was born, and every word applies to Annie too. Here are some of the lyrics (since this is an open letter):
I love you
I mean I just adore you
I wanna do things for you
All my life.
Now that you are growing up into such beautiful, happy, energetic, enthusiastic, intelligent, funny, talented young ladies, with Katie already 9 and Annie already 5(!), I want to write a part two, now that I can see the future a bit better. Wanting to “make you happy” is no longer enough.
The older you get, the more I realize the things that make you happiest are the things you do yourself.
I see it when Annie focuses completely on her art projects, or when she directs my every action in dramatic play that goes on as long as I allow, and in which my creative input is only semi-tolerated. I see it when Katie immerses herself in a book for days (and we have to say “eating, not reading!”) or when she is quizzing me on World War II, or bizarre animal facts, or science, or whatever her latest obsession, or when she plans to write and direct Dogs the Musical (a sequel to Cats) with her friends from school. I see it in the more and more frequent times when you both invent some game of your own together and end up laughing so hard and playing so well that it kills us to make you stop and brush your teeth.
I want you to know one thing: there is nothing in this world you two can’t accomplish. Sometimes the world will try to stop you. But if you have focus, determination and resilience — that is, if you can completely obsess over a project, bounce back from any problem, and if you keep going no matter how tired you get, and never give up — you’ll find a way to win.
I will always be here to make you happy. That’s still my job and always will be. I will give you presents on your birthday, take you on fun family vacations, introduce you to amazing books and movies, and cook as many burgers as you want. But if you really want to be happy, you kind of have to do a lot of it on your own. Here’s the new part two of the song:
I love you
And I know you’ll be brilliant
If you can be resilient
All your life.
My dear Frankie Foo,
It’s your dad. I’m writing from a time, 2014, when believe it or not, I do not embarrass you. Seriously, you can’t get enough of me. When I come home from work, the moment the front door creaks open, I hear you and your brother with a cautious “…Daddy?”, and when I confirm that it is indeed me, an immediate “DADDY!!!!!” followed by the sound of a thousand horses stampeding across hardwood floors. (How do the two of you make so much noise? Do you each have nine cloven, hooved legs that immediately retract from human view when rounding corners into rooms?). Every time I see you, something very specific happens — my heart explodes. Every time. Without fail. And when you see me, you light up. Literally I think there must be fireworks behind those eyes of yours because I’m blinded by it and everything else disappears and you run over and wrap yourself around me so tight and I’m home. Did that just embarrass you? Sorry.
Here’s the thing though: I don’t think I’ll ever be able to keep my cool around you. I’m simply far too happy to know you. You choreograph dance routines for you and I. You belt out Let It Go for an audience of one: me. So, I’ve decided to just lean into it and be a generally embarrassing presence in your life. That’s right, I’ll never try to be the “cool dad” — I think we both know how much that would exacerbate whatever embarrassment was there in the first place.
So we’ll see how it goes. And when that day comes when those fireworks fade and you cringe rather than squeal when I walk into a room, rest assured — I get it. I’ll even try to play it cool right along with you. But just know that my heart is exploding, over and over again.
P.S. Unrelated: Please never say “cool beans.” Thank you.Scott stars on NBC’s Parks and Recreation.
Dr. Mehmet Ozto
Arabella, Daphne and Zoe
Dear Arabella, Daphne and Zoe,
As a doctor, I have always been in the hope business. And I have learned that hope is not really about wishing for the best outcome, but rather making sense of whatever is happening. The knowledge and comfort accompanying a doctor’s advice is the most soothing salve for medical infirmities, and a parent’s embrace does the same for many of the emotional pains we face. For Father’s Day, I want to hug you with my tips for healing as your navigate the serpentine stream of life.
Always remember to forgive the people you love, especially yourselves. Surgeons are demanding on each other and themselves. We have precious little room for error, especially when our patients pay the ultimate price. Nevertheless, the patients in front of us do not want us focused on the last case or the next challenge. Life happens in the moment, and pressing the “reset” button of forgiveness will always help you see more clearly.
Accept that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue. When you kids were younger (and used to take my advice more obligingly), I used to appear on the Oprah show frequently. My most gripping guest was Randy Pausch, a brilliant young man who gave the now-famous “Last Lecture” when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He could have been bitter about it, and he could have cursed the world for such an injustice. But instead, when I asked how he felt, his response was elegant and calm. Life is always fair, he said. After all, someone has to get cancer for it to exist. And although Randy was dealt an unlucky hand, he still had faith that he could play his cards responsibly. There’s real power in accepting that many mistreatments you encounter are totally beyond your control.
Remember that everyone’s life is either a warning or an example. In fact, people put meaning into our stories — our lives. These tales should be gifts and, if not used as such, they will become baggage.
Beware of bad habits. Although they may start like flimsy cobwebs, they can become hardened cables that shackle us if they go unchecked. This is easier to see from the outside, which is why I periodically remind you that, while smart people learn from their own mistakes, wise people learn from the mistakes of others. I only hope that my many errors can serve as an easy roadmap of landmines for you, especially since daughters are particularly adept at seeing their father’s flaws.
Finally, remember that not all risks are equally defensible. When I was training in surgery, we were taught that one “oh, shit!” error erases a thousand “attaboys” by our professors. It makes sense — when you are operating on hearts, a catastrophic error can take you and your patient out of the game. So when you do take risks — and you should, because that’s how you go where no one else has gone before — make sure you have a back-up plan to prevent failure.
But should you ever fall from the tight rope you must walk to tower way above “ordinary,” know that I will always be your safety net. That’s how many of us dads say, “I love you.”Oz is the host of The Doctor Oz Show, and founder of Dr. Oz The Good Life magazine.
Ally, Elizabeth and Kathleen
Dear Ally, FooFoo and KK,
Every time Father’s Day comes around, I start to think about all the incredible accomplishments you girls have achieved over the last year — and the exciting opportunities and new experiences you’ll face in the year to come. Year after year you exceed my wildest hopes and dreams for you. You each play an irreplaceable role in my life. You keep me passionate, you keep me energized, you keep me young — you keep me cool!
At least I hope you keep me cool! After 40-plus years in the fashion industry, I’d like to think I put myself together pretty well. But you three always manage to find fault with what I’m wearing. Like, “Dad, you’re not wearing those shoes, are you?” “Dad, you’re not wearing that tie with that shirt, are you?” “Dad, why don’t you just wear your jeans?” And I listen to you guys — you haven’t steered me wrong yet! When we all get together there is no silence in the room. We’re all talking about a million different things, sometimes all at once. And I love it. That’s part of the pleasure of having such wonderful daughters.
Ally, you’re incredibly creative, sensitive, sophisticated and wise beyond your years. When you were a little girl, I could tell by the look in your eyes that you were no ordinary child. You have a unique vision, incredible discipline, and above all, you’re kind, loving and friendly. We’re best friends, and we’re in contact every day no matter where we are in the world.
FooFoo, you’re the firecracker. You’re studying fashion but I think your creativity goes way beyond that. You speak your mind, and you never cease to amaze us, shock us and make us laugh. We all call you the CEO, because you like to call the shots. I have no doubt you will become very successful in life, in whatever you engage in.
KK, you have an amazing sense of humor. You’re silly, fun, funny and for someone so young, you’re very sure of yourself. Your mind is probably as far as possible from mine when it comes to fashion—you do things like put your shirts on backwards — and all that just adds to your character and strong sense of individuality.
Sometimes, people ask me if I expect you girls to go into fashion. The truth is I would never try to push you either way. It should always be your choice. Your mother is very creative. You obviously have creative genes. But all I want is for the three of you to follow your dreams, do what you feel and be who you are.
The biggest lesson I’ve tried to teach you is simple: treat others the way you want to be treated. Respect others’ feelings and respect others period. And through the causes and organizations we support — Autism Speaks, the Race to Erase M.S., the Lyme Research Alliance, and more — I hope you have learned how to be giving not only of your time, but of yourselves in trying to make a difference in life.
In turn, the three of you have taught me something invaluable: how not to be so serious. You’ll say, “Dad, lighten up!” I’ll say, “We have to get somewhere on time.” And you’ll say, “Who cares if we’re a little late?” Sometimes, I really need that perspective.
And as you get older, please know this: as long as you feel successful, and you’re happy with yourselves, I will be proud and supportive of anything you do. Health comes first in life, but happiness is certainly the most important.
I’m very proud of all of you.
Your mom and I spent a lot of time in the first years of your life staring at you and wondering, “Who are you going to grow up to be someday?” We couldn’t wait to hear your voice and see your personality. You were a little girl who I watched grow in her mother’s beautiful belly, who was born into the world crying and gooey, who needed bottles and burps and naps, who crawled and eventually began to walk, staggering around like a drunk in a crinkly diaper, who would eat a bag of marbles if you left her alone for too long, who cuddled up with her stuffed animals to feel safe, who had tantrums at the playground and spaghetti sauce in her hair, and who tortured her parents by requesting only “The Wiggles” from the in-house DJ.
But there comes a moment for a Dad — it’s different for all of us, I guess — when that baby becomes an actual distinct person who must be reckoned with. You’ve amazed us all along, Lucie, with your smarts, with your curiosity, with your sense of humor, with your creativity, with empathy unusual for your age, and with, a father might add, your beauty. But the moment you officially announced yourself to the world came just a few weeks ago.
My dad (your “Bumpa”) and I were given a party at the home of Mom’s parents (your “Nonna” and “Poppy”) on the release date of our new book. There were 50 or so adults there, most of whom you didn’t know. The party conflicted, though, with your final tap dancing class and you were given a choice: tap or Dad’s book event. When I told you there would be many more chances to join us in signing books, you said to me, at 6 years old, “Daddy, I know how important your big night is, so I want to come.” That level of selflessness from a first grader would have been enough to melt me on its own, but it was what you and Mom cooked up next that made my heart explode.
Mom quieted the crowd outside on the back patio at the party and announced that you would be performing your final routine from tap class right there in front of all those people. Out you bounded from the sliding screen door of the kitchen wearing your tap shoes. With the eyes of 50 strange adults staring at you in silence, you ripped off a perfect performance, punctuated by a big, rapid-fire finale that had those grown-ups whistling and cheering. You took a bow, accepted a massive hug from me, and went back inside.
Everyone there knew immediately whose night it was. Lucie Geist was in the building.
Love you, Luce.
DadGeist is a co-host of NBC’s TODAY show and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and author of Good Talk, Dad: The Birds and the Bees and other Conversations We Forgot To Have.
Amirah, Me’arah and Taahirah
My dearest daughters,
The most amazing person that I have ever known is your grandmother, my mother Lucille. From my earliest memory, I was in awe of her. She could command a room just by walking in with a smile. She could see the potential in people that others may have missed. She could whisper a word of encouragement that spoke so loudly to your heart that it felt like it came straight from a choir.
Each of you is at such a different stage in your life. Yet the one thing that you all have in common is that when you enter adulthood, the opportunities that you have before you will be far greater than those of your grandmother. The world is ready for you—and the potential that you possess. What will matter though, is what you do with those opportunities.
Taahirah, you are my first-born. You are setting the tone for your siblings by graduating from high school and starting college this fall. This was just the first of your many graduations. I will be there for all of them, and I will always be the one cheering the loudest.
Amirah, you are the artist in the family. Color the world and help us all see your vision, because the world could benefit from seeing the goodness you find every single day.
Me’Arah, you are my baby, but you are already wise beyond your years. Take a breath and embrace each moment.
While you each have different strengths, and your own path to follow, I want to share with you some fundamental truths taught to me by my mother. I pray the following bring you comfort and wisdom.
Be resilient. You will be knocked down. Sometimes, you will be knocked down harder than you could imagine. But it is there, at the point you feel your lowest, that you will find who you are. You will see the strength of all the generations that have come before you. You will be astonished by how prepared you are for a moment that you could not have predicted. You just have to give yourself a chance to amaze.
Be kind. One of the toughest things to develop is the ability to have the fight to be resilient, without having the fight overtake you. Remember that we all need encouragement. We all need sweetness in our life. You all have the beauty of kindness. I have seen it. Sometimes, the kindest actions are the quietest. Take time to listen. More importantly, take time to feel what others are feeling. That is what makes someone beautiful.
Be the friend that you want to have. Whether it is with your friend on the playground, your college roommate, or your spouse later in life (much later, please!) be the friend that you want to see in others. Be loyal, be compassionate, and, most of all, be patient. We all need someone to understand us when we make mistakes.
Be courageous. This is different than being resilient. This is going into battle for the right reason, for the right cause, even without backup. Stand up for those who lack a voice.
Embrace love, life and family. All of these previous points are about character. This last point is the purpose of all of this. You will have opportunities come and go. You will have triumphs and heartaches. You will surprise yourself, and you will even disappoint yourself. But the trick is to see all of it for the gift that it is. Enjoy this beautiful life. And love your family with all of your heart. That is how I love you.
You and your brothers are the complete joy of my life. I can’t wait to see all of the joy you bring others.
Dad O’Neal is a host of TNT’s Inside the NBA and co-owner of the Sacramento Kings.
Being a woman today is hard. Working and being a mother, you will have to work ten times harder than I have ever had to do. I want you to grow up to be happy with your own family someday, and I’ve always tried to teach you about the responsibilities of becoming an adult so that when you encounter obstacles you are strong.
For the longest time you wanted a kitty. But I didn’t want you to be ready for that responsibility. The relationship between two human beings or a human being and an animal is to provide time and love and dedication to them. So I thought Mother’s Day would be the perfect time to teach you what that means.
I took you to the beach in Malibu, and all day long we talked about how difficult it is to be a mom and how blessed we are to have mom at home doing all this work. When we arrived home I asked you, “After all we talked about do you think you’ll be ready one day to be a mom?” And you said yes it would be a lot of work but now that you knew more about it, you really wanted to be a mom today. And I asked you, “What about today?” I told you to go to your room and meet your first little baby.
You were confused but you went up to your room. And your face lit up because that’s the thing you wanted for the longest time: a kitty. Since that day you’ve built an incredible relationship with that kitty where you take care of it all the time, and it follows you everywhere. For a young girl I think it’s a very special thing because for the first time in your life you’re responsible for another life. And now Penelope the kitty follows you everywhere and you take such good care of her.
You may not understand these lessons now, but someday you will know why I’ve tried to teach you these responsibilities. When I was 18 years old, my father decided to send me to the army, and I became a firefighter. And I never understood why my dad made me do that. But a couple years ago, you swallowed a clip while we were driving. When I turned around you weren’t breathing. I saw a lot of things as a firefighter and that was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen because you are the most important thing in my life.
But because of the training that I had I was very calm in doing what I needed to do to help you to survive. I actually put my hand in her throat and broke the clip in half with the tip of my finger because you don’t want someone to go for so long without any oxygen. The reason I became a firefighter became clear on that day. My dad has passed, but I can’t wait to one day see him again one day and say thank you. That was the best gift my father ever gave me: your life.
I will continue to try to teach you how to grow into a strong woman who can accomplish anything she wants in the world.Marini stars on ABC Family’s Switched at Birth.
Billy Ray Cyrusto
Brandi, Miley and Noah
To my darling daughters,
First and foremost, I want to express my sentiments to all the parents of the children affected in the Seattle, Santa Barbara, Sandy Hook, Columbine and so many recent tragedies that seem to be happening more frequently in our world.
As a parent, I can’t begin to understand the level of despair when one of your own is taken by senseless violence. To think of how much it has snowballed in the last twenty years, it’s shocking to see the facts in black and white. We all know because we all watch the news and unfortunately every week it’s something new.
When I bought a guitar and started a band, it was so that God would help me find my purpose through the music to live through His light and His love. As a songwriter, I express my feelings through my songs. Right this minute, I feel no song says it better than the chorus of my song “Stand,” which I sing with Miley. I “Stand” in solidarity with parents worldwide in giving them some hope through trouble and supporting our children while working to make this a safer, better world for them.
(Billy Ray Cyrus feat. Miley Cyrus)
Stand, for what you believe in
Stand, for all that is right
Stand, when it’s dark all around you
You can be that shining light.
Stand, when troubles come calling
You’re gonna be alright
Stand, just reach deep inside you
And be that shining light.
To my heart and soul, my girls, looking back through life around Father’s Day makes me think of my own dad. He was a man of few words, but he always spoke from the heart. I wanted to share with you one of the most important thoughts on perseverance he said that sticks with me to this day. He said, “Always be aware of your current surroundings and remember to live in the present. Stay focused on the future, but keep your vision, goals and dreams in the front of your mind to get you where you want to go. And most important of all, always follow your heart and never forget where you came from.”
Billy Ray Cyrus Cyrus is an award-winning country singer and actor. His new album, The Distance, is in stores now.
Dear Etta Spaghetta,
After raising a son for three years, I was terrified of having a daughter. Then you were born, and I’ve watched you grow into a nearly two-year-old toddler… and I’m still terrified! At such a young age, I can already tell that you will have no problem figuring out what it is you want from this life and making sure you get it. While for now that means I say “NO Etta” multiple times a day, I know as you get older those words will translate into cheers of praise from your proud Pops. And even though your strong, ferocious spirit will send you soaring, I will always be here to catch you if you fall. So here is some advice from your old man: be honest, be kind, strive for a life of balance and it’s okay if you get a tattoo WHERE I CAN SEE IT.
Your terrified (but not-too-terrified so stay away boys) dad. Daly is host and producer of NBC’s hit series ‘The Voice,’ returning this fall for a seventh season, and co-host of NBC’s TODAY show. He also hosts a morning radio program on 97.1 AMP FM.
Mi querida Paola,
I noticed my first gray hair a few days after I learned that you were going to be born. The sense of responsibility was enormous. What I didn’t realize during those intense, hopeful days is that you were going to define the rest of my life. I was no longer going to be known first as a journalist, or as an immigrant, or as the son of Coco and Yuyu. From then on I was always going to be defined as the father of Paola. And later, as the father of Paola and Nicolas.
You were born when I was your age. Back then I thought I was too young and inexperienced to be a dad. But everything changed in a second. The moment I embraced you for the first time, I didn’t feel anxious or nervous. Quite the contrary. A sense of peace took over. “This is our new life,” I thought. ”And we’ll be fine as long as we stay together.” That we have achieved.
There’s a beautiful picture of us, with you sleeping on my chest. You were only a few weeks old and I was clearly mesmerized by you. That moment, captured in an old photograph, is my idea of happiness. It’s true love.
The most important condition for a dad is to be present. The rest can wait. But for us, that was a challenge because of my profession and your years living in Spain. At the end, I think we did all right. Your friends—you tell me with a smile—are surprised that we talk over the phone almost every day. I’m just proud and happy of being so close to you.
I have always wanted for you a better life than mine. Why not? Of course, I wanted Harvard for you. And you applied to all colleges but that one. Lesson learned. You were going to live your life at your own pace and set your own goals.
I don’t know exactly when it happened but, at some point, our roles reversed and I started learning from your independence, from your solidarity with friends and family, from your sense of freedom and joy of living. Nothing was impossible. You put fear aside and decided to leave your mark in this world. You applied to Harvard for grad school (thanks!!!), got accepted (what an honor!!!) and that’s where we are right now.
A few years ago I wrote a bunch of letters to you and to your brother, compiled in the book The Gift of Time. I wanted you to know that “the time I spent with you — those collected bits of shared moments — are the high point of my life.” And, of course, there was some fatherly advice: spend time with people who challenge you, have fun, travel a lot, don’t live with fear, take risks, don’t be a victim, learn to say no, be transcendent, make big decisions calmly, live with passion, be a leader and, most importantly, be yourself. Your grandfather Coco should have been a magician, not an architect. Don’t make the same mistake.
Paoli, I have great plans for you. But I’m not going to put them out in an open letter. Too much pressure. What’s really important is what you want to do with your life. There are no limits to what you can do.
As for me, I am a happy dad. Even if there’s no heaven, I’m at peace here on earth. My time with you and Nicolas has made it all worth it. It’s the gift of time.
Te quiero mucho,
Papa. Ramos is a news anchor for Univision and Fusion.