I once wrote the wrong name on a Father’s Day card. I was twelve and I’d had a few fathers by then, some “official” and some not. Fathers were fleeting things–like butterflies that fluttered just an inch too high for me to reach when we lived in northern Idaho, or the jets that flew so high and fast that they were out of eyeshot by the time I knew they were there when we lived outside McChord Air Force Base in Washington, or the thunderstorms that appeared out of nowhere and dissipated just as fast nearly every summer afternoon that we lived in Glen Burnie, Maryland. And fathers’ temperaments varied to about the same degree. So you can imagine that as I’ve read various articles this past week about Father’s Day, its role in family life, and its value and celebration mechanisms as compared to Mother’s Day, I found myself nodding at all of them even when one disagreed with another I’d read the day before. The truth is that fathers day meant very little to me until my second husband proved just how important fathers really are.
These days, Father’s Day is a weekend affair. We start celebrating Saturday morning and the manner of our celebration is somewhat nontraditional. I cook on Father’s Day weekend–as much and as often as my husband wants. The only other time of year that I cook is on his birthday.
I also clean on Father’s Day weekend. I do the dishes. I pick up the living room. I take care of the kids so that he can nap or watch TV in peace. I don’t work on Father’s Day–volunteer, paid, or might-be-paid-later. Father’s Day is his weekend.
If he wants to go to the movies, I go to the movies with him, even if it means seeing one of those terrible horror flicks he loves so much or, like tonight, driving 40 miles to the drive-in while knowing that we’ll get home around 2 am and be up at 7 to take care of our youngest and get breakfast started.
In our house, Father’s Day looks a lot like Mother’s Day in other houses, because even though he works a full-time job, he also does the majority of the cooking, nearly all of the cleaning, and is definitely the nurturer to our four children, two of whom aren’t biologically his but also aren’t treated any differently than the other two.
We don’t celebrate the way we do because he is “motherly” or because “motherly” means more or is more important than “fatherly.” We celebrate the way we do because he is everything that I am not. Because the two of us together make a whole parent. That has nothing to do with gender.
I honor that. I honor him. I honor the fact that after 12 years of putting up with financial hardships, medical traumas, extended family members who may or may not be assets to the immediate family, not to mention my mood swings and tendency to get involved in many more activities than I actually have time for, he is still here. He is still loving, contributing, and fathering.
Not every mother or father deserves the honor of this kind of holiday. I would know. Maybe that’s why I feel so lucky to have a husband so very worthy of celebration.
Happy Father’s Day, Baby.