Father’s Day

I don’t re­al­ly have a con­cep­tion of what Father’s Day is like for dads in two-par­ent homes. By the time I reached the age where I could ef­fec­tive­ly un­der­stand what it might mean to my own fa­ther, he was no longer a part of my life. My son doesn’t know what it means any more than I did at his age. It takes a long time to grow in­to em­pa­thy. I don’t get a lazy day of praise from wife and chil­dren. I don’t sleep in or skip church. I make the boy break­fast, take him to church, help clean up his spills and help him make a store for his cars to shop at. I do all the things a fa­ther does every oth­er day of the year. Basically, the day is just like any oth­er Sunday with my son — for the most part. Maybe it’s like that for all fa­thers, Odin’t know. (My god, I think that’s the worst pun I’ve ever made.)

What’s dif­fer­ent is that I re­flect — and I get a tad de­fen­sive. Most days of the year I don’t think about what peo­ple think about when they see us out and about, but on Father’s Day I kind of as­sume that they’re think­ing “Dude has his son for Father’s Day,” which, in my mind, is short for “un­mar­ried un­in­volved fa­ther spend­ing court-man­dat­ed time with his off­spring.”

Look. I know that’s crazythought. But I’ve heard its echoes from folks I know, who see tons of un­ac­com­pa­nied dads out on Wednesdays (the typ­i­cal week­ly overnight for stan­dard par­ent­ing sched­ule dads), feed­ing their kids at the Hot Dog Diner or the like. I al­ways feel there’s an im­pli­ca­tion that the­se dads are do­ing the min­i­mum, and that when I’m iden­ti­fied as a sin­gle dad, I’m al­so as­sumed to be do­ing the min­i­mum. If there’s one thing that is cer­tain to get me hack­led, it’s be­ing thought of as some­one who doesn’t take re­spon­si­bil­i­ty or do his best. There’s cer­tain­ly still a stig­ma to be­ing a sin­gle par­ent, and I’d ar­gue, the stig­ma is worse for sin­gle dads. There are so many sin­gle dads out there who do the min­i­mum or less, and it re­flects up­on the sin­gle dads who ac­tu­al­ly give a hoot.

It’s al­so a hefty por­tion of per­son­al in­se­cu­ri­ty and a lit­tle resid­u­al shame on my part for be­ing taught that there is some­thing shame­ful about be­ing a sin­gle par­ent.

Out of all of that in­ter­nal­ized roil I sit in a boat above it and re­flect. And I think, for me, Father’s Day is be­com­ing, and like­ly will con­tin­ue to be, an ex­am­i­na­tion of con­science on what it means for me to be a fa­ther. How I’ve been do­ing. How I can be bet­ter.

6 thoughts on “Father’s Day

  1. You know at the beach to­day watch­ing you with Bram, I was just re­mem­ber­ing back in col­lege, think­ing you were go­ing to be a great dad some­day, and think­ing how right I turned out to be.

  2. Good morn­ing Adam,

    Take this sen­ti­ment com­ing from a boy who al­so ex­pe­ri­enced the sin­gle-par­ent lifestyle and was raised by the world’s great­est fa­ther, with all the love and ad­mi­ra­tion en­tailed:

    Being a fa­ther, you’re doin’ it right…

    Do all you can to make to­day a good day,

    Jeff

  3. Good morn­ing Adam,

    You’re wel­come.

    A part of my life that has con­fused my fam­i­ly, and those clos­est to me, was my ear­ly de­ci­sion (be­fore I was 20) to nev­er in­ten­tion­al­ly fa­ther chil­dren.

    I nev­er took the ul­ti­mate step of hav­ing a va­sec­to­my (al­though in hind­sight, I would have done if I’d had ac­cess to med­ical in­sur­ance that would pay for the surgery) but I did take every oth­er rea­son­ably pre­cau­tion to pre­vent be­com­ing an ac­ci­den­tal fa­ther.

    My de­ci­sion was based on my self-aware­ness that I am too self-cen­tered to make the sac­ri­fices de­mand­ed by prop­er fa­ther­hood. I great­ly ad­mire those able to do so and I’m ever grate­ful to those who shoul­der the task; I just know that I’m not fa­ther ma­te­ri­al.

    Nearly 40 years lat­er, I have no re­grets.

    Do all you can to make to­day a good day,

    Jeff

  4. Dear Adam,

    You and I have a few things in com­mon. We were raised by the same fa­ther un­til the age 11. Even raised in the same house at dif­fer­ent times of our lives; 514 Franklin Street in Connersville. We both have very in­tel­li­gent moth­ers who were smart enough to re­move us from a verbally/​mentally abu­sive home be­fore we be­came teenagers. We are both col­lege ed­u­cat­ed, well es­tab­lished in our ca­reers, able to con­tribute to so­ci­ety in a pos­i­tive man­ner, and we are par­ents.

    Looking back I feel that I wasn’t there for you dur­ing your times of strug­gle. I have no ex­cus­es and will claim no jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for my pre­vi­ous ac­tions (or in­ac­tions as it were). I do hope you ac­cept my sin­cer­est ap­pol­o­gy for not be­ing a bet­ter old­er sis­ter.

    I am not sure how you feel about me. However, I am not the type of per­son to hold grudges. I have learned to for­give quick­ly so that my heart will heal and I can move on with my life in a peace­ful man­ner. That be­ing said, I was hop­ing that you and I might be able to re­solve our dif­fer­ences and work on re­pair­ing our re­la­tion­ship.

    We will be on a fam­i­ly va­ca­tion next week and stop­ping in Cleveland for the night on Wed. July 25th. I will send your mom my cell phone num­ber in an email in case you are in­ter­est­ed in meet­ing with us. 

    Thank You for let­ting me speak my piece, 

    Pamela Kaye Harvey

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