Time, as the saying goes, waits for no one. The civil calendar marches on and leads us into June and toward Father’s Day.
A quick history primer: the first unofficial Father’s Day followed shortly after the first unofficial Mother’s Day in the early 1900’s. But it was not until 1972 that Father’s Day was declared a national holiday, a full 58 years after the same declaration for Mama. The head start for Mom in the Hallmark holiday race is likely a nod to the slowly evolving attitudes about male parenting, both by fathers themselves and the public. Volumes have been written regarding the transformation of male involvement in the domestic arena.
Personally, I have always had a bit of a dichotomous relationship with Father’s Day. My father is one of the happiest men I know. I genuinely envy his optimism and outlook on life. I love him dearly. But my parents divorced when I was four. My father left my mother with my younger brother and me. She had no money, no job, and no prospects. I sometimes think about what it was like leading up to the day the switch flipped, and he decided to move on…it’s hard to imagine. He went dark for a while but resurfaced fairly quickly, and thankfully stayed in the picture. He has been in my life as far back as I can remember; much of it at a distance but always trying to make up for lost time. As I grew up, he was about two and half hours away, so he would get us for long stretches at Christmas and Spring Break and summer vacation. He would shower us with toys and presents and junk food to be the fun Dad, and it worked. (You can imagine that my mother was not amused. She still isn’t. Just bring up the topic).
Today he is very much in the picture. We speak two or three times each week. He knows my kids’ schedules, activities, stories, and friends in a way that is hard to understand coming from this man. But I am grateful for it. We are all fallen creatures, so I accept him for who he is and bear no grudges. But here I am at 45 droning on about it, so it clearly made a mark. It’s complicated. Every year I struggle to find the right Father’s Day card: “Dad, Happy Father’s Day. I love you, but WTF?”
Fatherhood, as many of you know, is not easy, and I’m surely
no expert. I live in a glass home, and I cast no stones. My kids might be crafting
their own articles about me as I write this. I certainly fall short. With my
wife’s help and guidance, I often see the error of my parenting ways and attempt
to amend whatever selfish or foolish decisions I made. (So put your
iPads down, kids. I said I was sorry).
So if you’re lucky enough to still have your father in your life, take a little time before this Father’s Day to put a little extra thought into something special for him on June 20.
And if you are lucky enough to have children in your life, slow it down and soak it in. Time flies, and as the saying goes, waits for no one.
And if you are blessed enough to be in both categories, put your head down like we do and do both.
If you happen across this, Dad, Happy Father’s Day. I love you.
Until the next Gloom, Peace be with you.