Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

June 15, 2012

Molly Bolts and Father’s Day – The Often Unseen But Critically Important

Filed under: Tools for Life Posts — by Life's Toolbox @ 12:47 pm
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             I remember the first time I saw molly bolts on my dad’s workbench and wondered what those funny looking flipper thingies, or cage like covers for screws were all about.  In his confident, carpenter’s voice Dad explained that sheetrock walls can’t support the pictures or other things we want to hang on them, and molly bolts make that possible.   Whether the molly is the expandable sleeve type that you slide into a hole you drill in the wall and, when the screw is tightened into it, expands and grips the inside of the wall, or the butterfly hinged type that springs open, a molly is, in essence, an anchor.  These miraculous bolts are literally behind the scenes, keeping various decorative and essential elements of our lives from crashing down upon us.

Molly bolts (despite their feminine name – originally a trademark) are a wonderful inspiration for father’s day.  There is plenty of sentimental and heartfelt celebration of Moms right out in the open.  Dads, on the other hand, are too often feted with cards that depict them lazing in front of the tv and somewhat uninvolved in the family dance.  In my life, Dads may not be the obvious out front decorations of families, but they are very much present, so much a part of our success and happiness.

This week, we welcomed our youngest son, back from a second year of study abroad. Within hours, he was his usual self . . . helping around the house without being asked, attuned to everyone’s needs, quietly working at projects and reaching goals he sets for himself.  This week we also learned of the wonderful success of our second son, who passed a major exam and life milestone.  And our eldest, while he had no specific news or accomplishment to share, was his usual delightful, engaging, witty and wonderful self.  Reflecting on what to write for this week of father’s day, I could not help thinking how much of this week’s parenting bounty (and so many others I’ve been so fortunate to experience) are thanks to the father in my son’s lives.  I have no doubt that they are the men they have become, that they do what they do, believe what they believe, and accomplish what they accomplish, because of the quiet, sometimes hidden, but always powerful anchoring my husband has always offered them.

I am not a quiet woman.  I come from a long line of talkers, and women who never shied from the limelight to hide in the shadows.  There are men who would not want such outspoken (or constantly speaking!) women as mates, men who would be angered or intimidated by a partner with a lot to say.  I was raised by a father who taught me to be strong and competent, and opened his shop door to me, communicating as he trained me in changing oil and tires, that women can and should be self-sufficient.  In his delight at my successes, I learned that not all men run from women who are not shy in their pursuit of accomplishment.  Then I met my husband, the finest cheerleader a wife could ever hope to have, a man who genuinely beams when those in his family reach goals, a man who, like molly bolts, anchors and supports.   

Despite their behind the scenes support, neither my father, nor my husband, are particularly shy or hidden characters.  My dad’s personality endears him to all who meet him.  His good nature and playful, twinkling eyes are what people still see in him, although he has the many challenges of aging to face.  My children have lived with a father who is so genuinely warm and engaged, who can be so intelligent in one moment and so playfully silly in the next, who is equally obsessed with circling for all family members the relevant news articles we should read and inserting clever lines from comedy routines into our conversations.  His clear love for his boys, for extended family, is a given in all our lives.

With father’s day around the corner, I think of these amazing men, my dad and my husband, and my late father-in-law too, and I know for all we see of what they do, there is so much more that is hardly seen and rarely acknowledged.  It was often Moms who provided the obvious “dressing” in our families – the kisses on boo-boo’s, the goodies for birthdays.  Moms may have been the visual symbol of parenting, the pictures hanging on the wall for all to see.  Sometimes, that meant dads were not as noticed.

My Dad lent his skill and effort to so much of our home growing up. He treated a curved wall with molding to give it beauty, built us a deck to dive off into the pool, made a bedside table my sister and I hid toys in to occupy us when we were punished.  We may not have understood how he created our decorative ceiling, or kept our cars running, but we knew we could count on him for things beautiful and useful.   Although I only met my father in law long after his sons were grown, I heard stories of his, engaging his sons in grassroots political legwork, bringing them to his law office, schooling them in an appreciation for current events and social responsibility.  His legacy lives in the men he raised, who serve their communities and their families as he did. And then there is my husband, who assumes the responsibility for the necessary but tedious work of family life, handling every piece of paperwork, billing, health care and other annoyances that modern day living requires.  I hope his sons appreciate the unseen but constant infrastructure support he provides our family, how he keeps us in clean laundry (yes, he does all laundry in our home!) and paid bills as well as making us smile and making us think and making us be a family that cares about being a family and about larger issues.

So, on this father’s day, I salute molly bolts, a workhorse of the toolbox, a small piece of hardware that makes the impossible possible, that holds so much more than its own weight.  And to the fathers gracing my life . . .  thank you for being such strong anchors, keeping us firmly planted in place when it might not have seemed there was anything you could count on.  Thank you for making our family possible and magnificent, and giving the next generation of men a lesson in the hard work and rich reward of caring!

Happy Father’s Day to All!

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2 Comments »

  1. Just beautiful…this made me cry…Happy Father’s Day to your husband Rona!!

    Comment by Lisa Catapano — June 15, 2012 @ 3:13 pm |Reply


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