Friday, June 16, 2006
I'm not sure if anyone out on the internet heard about it, but apparently there is a holiday this weekend called Father's Day. I know, I know, I thought it was just an internet hoax too, but it really exists. There are greeting cards and everything!
Now, being one of a million Daddy-bloggers, I suppose I have a duty to say something profound. I should speak about the traditions of fatherhood, the power of the bond between a dad and his child, or what is the appropriate age for a father to teach his child how to burp the alphabet or how to make farting noises with his armpit. You know, the important stuff. But, instead of touching on those sentimental things, those lists of items you can find on the greeting cards, I thought I'd propose a question, instead.
So, for the father's out there, preparing for their big day of indulgence... do you deserve it? Do you deserve a day celebrating your contributions to your child's life?
If you had asked me that question last year, I'm not sure what my answer would have been. I was probably still too shell-shocked about actually being a father to really come up with anything coherent. I can say that this year, unlike last year, I know I deserve my day. I know that when the going got tough, I didn't always just hand Chunk off to his mom. I know that even when I was tired and cranky and overwhelmed, I still hugged that kid, told him him I loved him, and meant it every time. And, yes, I know that I took the time to be a part of the fun moments too.
I spent a lot of time with my grandpa when I was a kid, especially during the summers. We did a lot of fishing. We took hikes through the local nature preserves. We went to countless hardware stores so my grandpa could tell the various managers we cornered how to run their business better. Years later, after my grandma died and I was staying with him, my grandpa told me that he felt like I gave him a second chance at being a dad. He confessed that he missed so much of my dad's childhood dealing with his own problems with alcohol addiction, he was glad to get another chance by being a father to me.
Although my dad didn't have those same issues with alcohol, in a lot of ways he was the same way. As a father, he was distant, uninvolved, detached. And now, as a grandfather, he's everything I thought I wanted in a dad. Chunk, just like his two older cousins, is my dad's second chance and he makes an outstanding grandpa.
Fatherhood, it seems, skips a generation in my family.
I'm not a perfect dad. Frankly, I don't think such a thing as a perfect dad even exists. I know that I have my days when I do detach, escape to the internet and just let Denver Mom handle Chunk's tantrums while I click through whatever pages give me a break. I'm trying to get better. I'm trying to break that cycle of absentee fatherhood that my family has "enjoyed" and be present for my son, let him drag me away from what I'm doing to play, to read, to wrestle and run and swing and giggle.
Is that enough to deserve a special day? Maybe it is. Maybe the best we can do as fathers is try. Maybe the most important lessons we can take from our own childhoods is to see the disappointments we had in the men we looked up to and try to do better. Not all father-son relationships are like the one I shared with my dad, of course, but every child has been disappointed, at one time or another, when they didn't get the hug they needed or the time that they expected. Like I said, there's no such thing as a perfect dad, except in 50s television.
I love my dad. I know that he loves me. It took a lot of years of frustration and strife for us to finally figure that out and I'm glad we got the chance to find a kind of peace and understanding between us. Maybe I'm naive, but I think that with some work, I can keep that from happening between me and my son.
So, do you think you deserve a special day? If not, why not make Father's Day the day where all of that changes?