Episode 276 Transcript (Deborah Porter)

Episode 276 (Deborah Porter)

Podcast Intro: [00:00:01] Being a great father takes a massive amount of courage. Instead of being an amazing leader and a decent dad, I want to be an amazing dad and a decent leader. The oldest dad in the world gave you this assignment, which means you must be ready for it. As a dad, I get on my knees and I fight for my kids. Let us be those dads who stop the generational pass down of trauma. I want encounters with God where He teaches me what to do with my kids. I know I’m going to be an awesome dad because I’m gonna give it my all.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:00:39] Hey, guys. Welcome back to dadAWESOME. My name is Jeff Zaugg and this is episode 276. And this is the kick off of Mom Month. So we’ve done this not every year, but but I think three, maybe four times during the month of May. We focus in and I interview moms, I focus in and I interview a different perspective, usually it’s a dad, it’s a grandpa, I’ve had a couple teenagers on, coming from the son perspective, but the month of May, Welcome to Mom Month. And Today, episode 276 is Deborah Porter. I, when I approach Mom Month, just prayerfully, I’m like, who, who have I met before, who have I not met? Who is making the best kind of waves, they’re making a difference in this space of of intentional parenting and who could speak in strategically into the hearts of us dads and Deborah Porter came to mind from a few angles, her leadership on a couple of different boards of directors, her leadership in the media, as far as her perspective when it comes to resourcing moms and seeing moms really live fully alive. She’s connected in a part of for a long time, the church community that Pastor Mark Patterson leads, National Community Church of Washington, DC. So there there’s a number of angles that I said Deborah is the right person. So today, episode 276, Here’s my conversation, the first of Mom Month, this year, Deborah Porter. Just to help all of the dads get to know your family a little bit, Would you introduce your family?

Deborah Porter: [00:02:20] Absolutely. So my college sweetheart is my husband, Clif Porter. We’ve been married for 34 years this December, and we’ve got three adult kids. My daughter is 31, My oldest son is 27 and my youngest son is 25.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:02:37] I believe there was a wedding in the family about three or four years ago. Your daughter got married. Is that is that right?

Deborah Porter: [00:02:43] We did. It was a destination wedding, which I’m thinking, Do you know how many churches we have to pass in America to get to Mexico? But. Okay, whatever. All right. But we packed up Grandma, grandpa, cousins and everyone, and this was February of 2020, we had no idea what was about to happen. So it was the last vacation any of us would take for years. And the fact that we were all there together, it was just we didn’t even realize how special in those moments that that wedding and that time together, sitting by the pool, you know, getting to know the new in-laws. It was pretty remarkable.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:03:21] Well, in part of my questioning and my curiosity around a wedding moment for a dad and a daughter is just like, I want to be preparing for that moment. I want to be preparing, thinking ahead versus just in the present. My oldest daughter is only nine and a half years old, but I fascinated by these moments and how it shifts fatherhood. What did you see, just looking through the lens of yourself, but also through Clif, your husband, like how do you see like any insights or takeaways that might be applicable to all of us dads from that moment?

Deborah Porter: [00:03:51] Yeah, it would, I’m going to try not to cry here because this still is so moving and so emotional for me watching the two of them, she’s always been a daddy’s girl. I mean, she’s my girl, too, but she’s always had his heart. And he would come home in the evenings and she would stand on his feet and dance to the Michael Jackson song, Rock With You. And that was just kind of the way she would greet him and he would, you know, give her give her his time. And watching them dance on that floor to Rock With You, at the reception, for me was it just was such a moment to be so thankful to God because it’s not easy raising kids, right. There are so many fears and I spent so many years parenting out of fear that to get to that moment, to just have the realization like, God, you had this the whole time. You had it the whole time. So, yeah, just bring lots of handkerchiefs and tissues and just have all of that ready. But all of these little moments that you’re spending with your daughters, they don’t forget any of it. And it all just kind of came into a full culmination, that moment with seeing the two of them dance to that song, they danced to that song a million times, but there was something unique as they danced to that. And when they finished, he kind of handed her off to her husband. So, yeah, really, really emotional for me. And I kept telling my husband, Don’t cry. Guess who did the ugly cry the entire wedding? It was me. He kept it together. It was me.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:05:35] Well, what you’re describing and congratulations, I mean, that is a precious, precious moment. The micro investments that then you get to see moments later of like, oh, macro impact and the micro of like, dance with your daughter. And I mean, sure, there’s there’s parallels with dads and sons, but what else do you think you’re your husband, Clif, what are some of the other areas that he did micro investments didn’t see the maybe the impact way back then but he got to like now is seen with the flourishing of your daughter? Any other examples?

Deborah Porter: [00:06:09] Yeah. My husband traveled and still travels a lot for work, and so time at home was really precious. And so we came up with this schedule where our kids went to a well, not neighborhood, but a local Christian school. So no bus, right, we had to take them to and from school. So every Friday, he didn’t travel on Fridays, every Friday he would take her to school, they’d stop and get a bagel on the way. And, you know, this became the ritual. But not just that, it became it was their time together. And so, you know, were there Fridays where people were pulled in for meeting? Yeah. Were there times where people were like, well, Clif, can you speak another session on Friday morning for us at this event? There are always going to be things that are going to want to pull you from your commitment from where your heart really wants to be. Just be really intentional of protecting what’s really special. I read this book that Andy Stanley wrote a while ago, and I think he’s done a revision of it, When Work And Family Collide, like Choosing To Cheat, I think is the name of the book. And there are such pearls of wisdom because, yes, you’re providing for a family. I was a stay at home mom, right. So he was he needed to be at these events, he needed to make the money. But at what cost? Just, just always be thinking, at what cost?

Jeff Zaugg: [00:07:32] Yeah. And the mom lens that you see that you can kind of speaking into us dads right now of choosing to cheat and encouraging than the career trajectory you might miss an opportunity for promotion because of this decision, but look at the payoff. I’d love for you to go in even a little deeper into challenging us to, like, ask these harder questions with work life balance and the trajectory or pursuit of this on the career versus the hearts of our kids. But would you go a little bit deeper?

Deborah Porter: [00:08:00] Yeah, I’d love to. I think that when we’re doing life together as a family, everybody kind of has their role, their lane, the thing that they do, the thing that they’re good at. And I think oftentimes we assume that mom can just juggle more balls than anyone else, right. She’s just she’s better at it. That’s not really true. It’s just she refuses to see them drop. And so she’ll just pick up another ball. She’ll just grab another ball. And so from a perspective as a dad and a husband, it’s just really important that the intention is there, right? It’s not about perfection. You’re not going to nail it every single time, but the goal is am I checking in with her? Am I making sure she’s good? How how can I insert myself? Because my husband traveled a lot, you know, my my need for him was when you get home, I need you to insert yourself. I know you’re tired. I know you’re jetlagged. I know you want to sit in the chair and watch TV, but I need you to find a place to insert yourself, your presence, you’re back. And the other expectation was, when you’re gone, we still need to feel your presence. So that means you call in the morning before everybody heads out and you say a prayer over everyone on the speakerphone, do that. If that means you’re checking in the afternoon, when you get a break, what you got for homework. Just remember to constantly find these moments to insert yourself so that even if you’re physically not there for work or meetings or whatever, your presence, your covering, your knowledge, your love is always being felt. We use these phones for everything else. We’ve got to start using them as a way to stay connected in a world that is constantly pulling us in different directions.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:09:57] I love how practical that insight is and that challenge for us dads. I know you help coach moms and and there’s so many topics that we could like drill into, but one of them is just like there’s things happening under the surface that us, us men, as husbands miss. We’re, like, unaware, but then things come to the surface and we like, where did that come from? And for example, I did a little in my research, learning about your perspective on mom rage, and I thought it was fascinating. But like, it’s easy for us to like, like what is happening and what caused this? And it must have been something right now where there’s probably things upstream. So would you coach us dads a little bit around, how can we be more aware of some of the things that might be happening out of sight?

Deborah Porter: [00:10:48] Oh, yeah. Mom rage. Mom rag is one is one of those things that is building. And and here’s here’s the thing for you guys, it’s really not your fault. Most of the time we’re not talking. So if you kind of notice your wife is getting a little bit more quiet, maybe pulling away a little bit, something is brewing. And even when you ask and she says, oh, nothing, I’m fine. She’s not fine. Just let me let you know she’s not fine. Perhaps she’s not ready to talk about it at that moment. And so as as moms, as wives, as women, we have to become a little bit more skilled in being able to actually communicate in the moment, because often you’ll find mom rage once things have been just kind of piled on top of the other and then another thing and then another thing, and then there’s a sock on the floor and we lose it and everybody’s like, What is wrong with her, right? So the idea here is for both folks to be able to be super vulnerable and super open. I tell moms all the time, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been married, it doesn’t matter how much he loves you, I guarantee you he cannot read your mind. I guarantee you he cannot. He can’t read your mind, nor will he see the things that you see. So, yes, you see the things on the floor. Most guys just don’t even notice it. It just doesn’t bother them. And so the idea here really is to have connection time as often as possible. My husband and I, when the kids were little, we would have it, usually, we called it couch time, and so we would sit and purposely reconnect at the end of a day, couldn’t do it every night by the time soccer practice and yada, yada, yada, but we made it a point several times a week to just have these moments where we’re sitting and we’re connecting, and I can begin to download to him and let him know where I need him to plug in, what’s been going on while he’s been gone. But it’s really about really talking. Don’t let the busyness kind of move you to and fro. It’s really about making intentional connection.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:12:56] So helpful. I want to keep going after practical kind of coaching insights from you, but I think as a backdrop, talking about you meeting your dad for the first time might just help because this is like going out to dads and everyone’s story is different as far as when there’s a, is there a connection, is there a presence of a father? Is there a rebuilding of trust in rebuilding of a relationship? Or in your case, I believe, if I researched right, it was when you were 21. Is that is that is that correct?

Deborah Porter: [00:13:25] Yeah. Yeah, that’s exactly right. Yeah. So my parents separated and then later divorced, but they separated, my mother was still pregnant with me. And it was let’s just say it wasn’t good. It just it wasn’t good. These these were probably two people that should not have been together. And so years go on, my sister and I are being raised everything, you know, as great as things can be. But there came a moment where I just really began wondering, who is he? Right, Where is he? Is it that he really just doesn’t care? Like, he just really could could care less about who I am, where I am, how I am. And so I approached my mom and I was like, you know what, I think I want to meet him. I knew that she knew where he was. I’d overheard a conversation, and so I knew that she knew where he was, he wasn’t far. And so she reached out to him. And within the week, he came and we went to dinner. And I remember thinking to myself, You know what, we’ll do this one meet up, I’ll check that box and we’ll just keep it moving. But as he dropped me back off at my mother’s house, I, he asked me, Do you think, it was Christmas break from college, I was home from for Christmas break. And he says, Do you think we could get together one more time before you leave? And this voice came out of me and said, Sure, that would be great. And I’m thinking, Well, where did that, that was not my plan. So, you know, my dad recently passed, he passed a year and a half ago and, you know, but here’s the great thing, God is so faithful. He gave his life to the Lord and he became a radical Christian. And so our opportunity to connect was able to happen through the love of Jesus. I don’t know if it would have happened any other way. My daughter ended up going to a college about 15 minutes from where he lived. So when we went to visit the school, I thought, You know, my dad lives near here, we probably should go say hi. And he pulls me to the side and he says, I know I wasn’t there for you, but I promise you I will be there for her if she comes here and he kept his word. He kept his word. She’d spend weekends over there. My daughter knew her grandfather better than I knew the father, and that was okay for me. So even if there is a riff, if there is some distance between a dad and a kid, let me just tell you, don’t put it on that kid to have to reach out to you. You’re the grown up. You made the decision. You find and reach out to that kid however that looks and whatever that may be, Don’t leave it to the kid to have to do.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:16:29] Wow. Thank you, Deborah, for sharing. And to me, like the the blank canvas of you did not have a dad growing up and then watching your husband, Clif, step in where you just he was absent, too lovingly present, but then you got, because of the courage, the forgiveness, to go reconnect with your dad, your kids get the dad and the grandpa. Is that is that accurate perspective?

Deborah Porter: [00:16:58] You nailed it. Yeah, you nailed it. You know, forgiveness, I didn’t know that in that moment what forgiveness was going to give me. I didn’t know that was going to give me the view of a grandfather from a father, I didn’t know. We oftentimes don’t know what we unlock when we willingly choose to forgive. Could I have held a grudge? Probably. And I remember having conversations with God, like, surely you don’t expect me to walk in forgiveness in this situation, like you get this God. Like you look like you, you know what happened. Surely there’s no expectation that that I somehow choose to forgive. And the Holy Spirit was like, No, yeah, there is an expectation of forgiveness. Think of how your Father has forgiven you. Your Heavenly Father has forgiven everything you’ve ever done or said. So it was not, it was not without a lot of tears, a lot of push back, but at some point I just said, All right, God, if I’m going to do this, if I don’t do this your way, it’s just going to remain a mess. So the choice to forgive, I had no idea that forgiveness at 21 would unlock an opportunity for my kids to know grandpa. Like, I had no idea that was even on the horizon. So many times just the act of obedience just unlocks so much more that God has for us.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:18:34] And I’m positive there’s parallels that are radical with some people listening. Some dads are going to take a radical step and reconnect with a with a dad, with a child. I mean, that’s that’s amazing. But there’s there’s small examples, too, of just like unforgiveness that’s caused small walls to be built between dads and kids or again, dads and their parents. And and the healing, and I mean, we’re only talking about on the home front, the like the fruitfulness, the the answered prayers on the home front, the work that you do coaching moms, the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands that have been touched by your work. I can’t imagine the difference of that work if you hadn’t taken this step. So it’s there’s big there’s a ripple effect here that’s big.

Deborah Porter: [00:19:20] It is. You know, I often say, you know, everybody’s always like, well, what’s your why? You know, why are you doing this? What’s your why? And I really had to accept the fact that single moms have a rough go at it. My mom had a rough go at it. And my why is that I want to be that person that my mom needed. My mom needed somebody to help her. She just didn’t, she there was too much on her plate to have to navigate in just providing for my sister and I. She needed a coach. She needed a life coach. She needed a support. She needed somebody to come alongside her to give her some tools. And once I really peeled away all of the layers of why I do what I do, that’s the one thing that’s right at the heart of it. I want to be for other moms when I know my mom needed and could have been blessed by.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:20:17] It’s incredible. It’s it’s incredible. I would love to pivot a little bit into how us dads can take more leadership and just perspective of like, hey, here’s maybe some things you can step in and lead with more intentionality and you had shot over ahead of time three potential areas we can chat about of bringing leadership to the area of prayer, fun, you know, dating our kids and and then household family chores. So, whatever order, take all three or take one at a time. I’d love to talk a little bit about dads taking leadership in these areas.

Deborah Porter: [00:20:50] So my husband has always been and will always be the lead for fun. Lik, he is the guy that is going to make whatever is going on hilarious and I had to learn to really let him do that and not get irritated, right. Because I’m more rigid, get it done. We don’t need songs, dance we don’t like, just get the thing done. But that’s his way. So allowing him to kind of flow in the way that he does stuff, but trying to find those moments where you can just pull away with your kid, one at a time, right, ideally, if they can get one on one time with you, that feeds a kid well into the next week or two, right. So just being able to to pause long enough, even if it’s just a walk around the block, even if it’s just a quick bike ride, even if it’s just kind of curling up with them in the bed before they go to bed, before they go to sleep. The idea here is the intention, making sure life is not just happening and we’re not just kind of like I’m thinking we’re almost at the end of April. How is that even possible? It’s just it’s insane how quickly time goes. And, you know, watching the two of them, my daughter, my husband on that dance floor, at her reception, I just thought, how has 30 years gone by already? And I know people always say, oh, it’s going to go by fast. No, seriously, it it is going to go by fast. So you want to make sure in all the voices that they’re hearing and options and things they should do, you want to make sure that yours is the voice that rises to the top because it’s the one they’ve heard the most. And as we think about household chores, right. So here’s here’s the thing about household chores. No mom wants to be the default parent, the one responsible for all the things. I would tell my husband, you treat me like I’m your iCloud. I can’t hold all the things, like I cannot do, and I’m not your iCloud, right. So what are a couple of things that you can do, not just this week or not just next week, but what are the things you can tell your wife, the mother of your beautiful children, I will take this off your, this is now my responsibility. Whether it’s the grocery shopping, whether it’s the laundry, whether it’s the vacuuming, what is the thing you can take? She doesn’t have to remind you. She doesn’t have to check on you about it. She doesn’t have to double back behind you to do it better or again. And mom, that’s just a clue. Never do that, because that’s just going to let them know that what they’re doing is not good enough. But what other thing, what can you take and now own as yours? What this communicates is I get that you’re carrying a lot, here’s one less thing. I got this and I got you. And then lastly, the idea of prayer and time around God’s word and leadership in that area. The idea here is most women, I can’t speak for everyone, but most of us, me in particular, I needed to feel safe. I needed a sense of safety. And when you gather us together and you’re praying over us, and I feel your hand on me and I see you praying over our kids, there is I feel like my blood pressure goes down. I feel like there is this thing and I know it’s God that’s covering and protecting us. But I also know that through my husband, that is made tangible and earthly. And so, these things, don’t take any of them lightly. If there is a way that you can pick a family night, where it, whether it’s game night or whatever it is you’re doing, but you can just before you step into that fun, really take a moment and just pour into your family and pour into your kids and let them hear you pray over them and over their mother. That pays dividends for decades.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:25:02] Yeah. Wow. So good. And I feel like I just need to share a dad fail because I, on the household family chores, here’s how I partially step into what you encourage, but I missed the key of take ownership. You said something about, you know, you own that area now. So laundry and we’re living in an RV right now and laundry is a bit of a beast to carry stuff to the laundromat. But I’ve been stepping in a lot more and and my wife would say, Yeah, Jeff has stepped it up, but I will bring up the fact that, well, I did the laundry. I’ll bring up, I’ll bring it up in a way that she owes me something because I have taken leadership in that area. And so basically I’ve still mentally positioned it, ownership is hers, I’m helping her versus’ it’s it’s actually it’s not good. It has never gone well when I bring up “well I did the laundry.” So there’s my fail, there’s my fail. A fully own it. 

Deborah Porter: [00:26:01] It’s aware, you’re aware of it, right. You’re aware of it because yeah the idea is I remember what was it, My husband, I don’t know, he did something around the house and I was like, Would you like a parade? Like, what exactly would you like for me to provide for you now that you unloaded, I think it was on the unloading the dishwasher. Well, I unloaded the dishwasher. And I’m like, full on parade for Clif. Woo, like, come on. 

Jeff Zaugg: [00:26:25] Guilty. I’m totally guilty. Well, I thought this would be maybe a fun, helpful way to kind of land this conversation, Deborah, and I’m so grateful for what you’ve already shared. But thinking about your daughter getting married three plus years ago and they don’t have any kids yet, do they? Are they still no kids yet?

Deborah Porter: [00:26:42] No, they don’t. Not yet. I’m waiting patiently.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:26:44] Now, fast forward, whether it’s two years or ten years, whatever, when your son in law becomes a dad just to kind of package you up, if there’s a couple principles that you just hope they’ll step into with intentionality? A few like, hey, here’s some ideas not to be perfect, we’re not talking about being dad perfect. dadAWESOME is just like a direction, a heart connection. What are a few the things you’d want to pass along to your son in law as he steps in with intentionality?

Deborah Porter: [00:27:12] Can I just say that I love my son in law. He is, he’s he’s he’s my son. Like, he’s, he is, he loves my daughter so well. But to answer your question, one thing that I would really encourage him is you’re going to be afraid. You’re going to hold this little blessing and you’re going to think, what in the world? Don’t parent through fear, because if you parent out of fear, what happens is you create so many roadblocks for them. You create such a an environment where you can now really pass that fear down to them unknowingly. So the first thing I would say is be aware of your fear. Allow God to work with you through that fear. Surrender that fear to God, but don’t parent through it. The other thing I would encourage him is to don’t see this as mom and dad as much as it is parents, right? Because when we separate it out, society has said moms do the things with babies and dads get to coo and kind of throw them up in the air. You guys are parenting together. And so whatever parental leave your place of business offers, take all of it. I think so many dads step back into work a little bit too quickly. Your wife, my daughter’s body will be healing for months, but like, she’s birthed a whole human, hello, like a whole human came out. So there’s a lot of healing that still has to happen. So whatever parental leave is offered, take all of it. And if you find that your place of employment offers less leave for dads than it does moms, you step into that and be an ally and speak to the need that we both just welcomed a baby. I need as much leave as a maternity leave as a mom, but I need the same thing to connect with my baby. So those are a couple of things that I would offer.

Jeff Zaugg: [00:29:21] Thank you. This this conversation has been so fun and so practical. And you have coached us the and I made a joke earlier before we hit record about, like, the ultimate mom coach. And I believe you’ve been called this before, right. This is this is your domain that you go after. I think we all can step in and be like, hey, I’m going to bring my all to this, my full passion. And even when you talk about your why earlier, it’s like, I just want to say thank you, Deborah, Thank you. And invite you, would you say a short prayer over all of us dads?

Deborah Porter: [00:29:52] Absolutely. Jeff, thank you so much for this conversation today. I just I love that you’re allowing a mom to kind of step in this month and really share and help dads. I think maybe hearing it from another perspective just helps everybody. So thank you for having me. Father, thank you so much for the opportunity to really just come and gather and be able to share our mistakes. Maybe a few things we’ve gotten right along the way, but really this 20/20 vision and being able to give insight to people that are coming along this same journey of parenthood. God, I pray over every dad that will hear this podcast and I thank you, Lord, that even just in the listening, there will be a surrender. Even in just the hearing of some of the stories in between the laughs, Lord, I just thank you that there’s a heart surrender to you to be the father that you desire each man to be. Does that mean perfect? No. Does that mean surrendered? Yes. Does it mean always striving? Yes. Does it mean making mistakes and getting back up? Yes. And so, God, I just thank you that by your Holy Spirit, you empower and allow every single father that hears this to choose family, to choose stepping into those roles, even when it’s not comfortable, even when they’re not sure, but to choose to be intentional about what you’ve called them to and this incredible opportunity that they have being a father. Lord, we thank you. We surrender it all to you. We welcome you, and we ask that you continue to draw us close in those moments when the world is pulling us in every other direction. We love you today and we thank you. In Jesus name, Amen.

Kiva Zaugg: [00:31:43] Thank you so much for listening this week to episode 276. To find the show notes, go to dadAWESOME.org/276. Have a great week.