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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