Father’s Day, a day to honor your father, a sequel to Mother’s Day. Somehow, I’ve never put as much importance on Father’s Day as I do on Mother’s Day. Even though I loved and respected my father, and I’m a father of three terrific grown children, I’ve never seen Father’s Day as an equal to Mother’s Day. My Dad never made a big deal out of it either.
Mothers bring you into this world, they give you life. They love you unconditionally, they heap praise on you for trying, and they build you up as if you’re the best thing since sliced bread. When your mother makes you sit in the corner or take a time-out, you’re mad at her, but she’s the first one you miss when your’re left at the babysitter’s. You don’t want to do anything to shame your mother, and she’ll be the first one to set you straight, but deep down inside you know you are the twinkle in her eye.
Father’s, on the other hand, tend to take an approach more akin to Mother Nature, where the parent’s role is to teach their young how to get along without their parents. If you learn how to be self-reliant you’ll survive; if not, you perish. Father’s want you to grow up fast, show that you’re man enough to fend for yourself, yet feel threatened when you reach puberty and want to be “your own man”. When I grew up, the common message from fathers was: Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.
As I look back, I can see three very distinct phases or relationships that I had with my Dad. 1)The first phase is idolotry, where your dad is the BEST, he can do no wrong and he can beat up your dad. Like this photo, where the two-year old idolizes his dad so he lines up his shoes along side his dad’s. When I was in eighth grade our assignment was to write a biography about our hero; the other kids in the class wrote about presidents or athletes, but I chose to write about my Dad. 2) The second phase is defiance. About the time you reach puberty you start to see your dad as a fuddy-duddy, out of it, not with it, uncool, a dinosaur, someone who doesn’t know what it’s like to be teenager. You wonder how your dad ever got married, he didn’t know anything about girls. Dad, stop telling me about your paper-boy job, I need the car to take this girl on a date. 3) Finally, respect. This comes when you leave home for the first time and have to make ends meet with your limited finances, and you begin to see that adulthood comes with obligations and responsibilities. That’s when you thank your dad for being tough on you and making you see what it means to make a choice and live with the circumstances. You start to realize that he was being a tough-guy to prepare you for the real world (how to get along without him), and your respect for him grows with each passing year.
Maybe its a gender thing; i.e. the reason I feel different about Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Mother’s are nurturers, soft and cuddly, and are built for hugs. Father’s teach you how to “hunt and gather” to provide for the family; they’re fun to wrestle with, but not much for hugs, at least once you get passed 2nd grade.
With respect to remembering my Dad, Father’s Day is no different than any other day, so I look at Father’s Day as a day to appreciate my three children. I’m so thankful that they became responsible adults, are good role models for their own children, paying their share of the national debt, and I never having worried about them moving back in with us once they left home.
Thought for the Day: I like children … if they’re properly cooked. W. C. Fields