I want to talk today about something that irritates the hell out of me: the backhanded “Happy Father’s Day.” You may see it posted on a social media platform and it goes something like this:
“Happy Father’s Day to all the dads AND TO ALL THE MOMS OUT THERE WHO ARE DOING IT ON THEIR OWN AND HAVE TO BE FATHERS, TOO.”
Um, but no, because YOUR day, Mom, was last month. This day is only for those fathers who were actually born with Y chromosomes.
I hate that fathers get such a bad rap and hardly any of the credit they deserve. I’m not talking about the deadbeat dads (and let’s not forget there are also deadbeat moms). I’m talking about those who actively participate in their children’s lives the best way they know how with their main intentions being to show love for their child and be a good dad. And, of course, keep Mom happy and sane.
Dads often get the parts of parenting we mothers either hate doing (because we’ve done it a zillion times and just can’t today) or don’t know existed (because we were never made aware of the situation). Something we hate doing: changing the blowout diaper in a public setting. If Dad is on an outing where this happens, you better believe it will be his turn to change that diaper. Something we may not know about: Dad picking a child up from a raucous Saturday night party that happened while Mom was out of town (some things are better left unknown, yes?).
There’s no training to learn how to be a mom. But guess what? There isn’t any for dads, either! Yet they are often found guilty of doing something “wrong.” I myself went through this struggle in the first few months of my son’s life. I thought my husband didn’t hold him correctly when giving my son a bottle, or that he put lotion on him the “wrong” way. Even reading this now makes me cringe because it’s so petty. Now, if Hubs dresses our son and the outfit doesn’t match guess what comes out of my mouth? “Thanks for helping him.” Every. Single. Time. (Hubs, if you’re reading this, vouch for me with a comment at the end, please!)
I can remember two times my dad was a dad in situations very foreign to him. Once was when I moved back home after temporarily breaking off my fist engagement with my now ex-husband. I lived a day’s drive away and after driving my packed car home with all my stuff, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I started unpacking but broke down in tears, sobbing so heavily I couldn’t speak. He gave me a hug, told me to rest and not worry, and proceeded to unpack my entire car for me and put the things away in my room. What I needed was someone to talk to and bring me down from whatever ledge I may have been on. My mom would have done that but she wasn’t there, and since my dad isn’t much for touchy-feely conversations, he helped the best way he knew how. I was very grateful for him in that moment.
The second situation was earlier than that unhappy time at a much happier event–my college junior year piano recital. Because of his work schedule when I was growing up, my dad never attended any of my piano recitals. If you’ve never been to a piano recital or any other classical music performance, which my dad had not, you would not know proper audience etiquette, which my dad did not. My dad, bless his heart, stood up out of his seat and clapped after every movement. For those of you for which this is gibberish, just know this is a huge faux pas. Know what my mom, who very much so knows classical concert behavior, did? Nothing. She didn’t pull him back down to his seat or verbally admonish him. Know what I did? I turned slightly on my stool to look at him, smiled and nodded curtly at him until he finished clapping and sat down, and started my next movement. This is also a no-no in a classical recital; you don’t take breaks to acknowledge the audience. But it was MY recital and MY dad who was visibly overflowing with pride in his daughter. Mom and I knew that so we let him be and enjoy himself. And guess how it turned out? Fine! No lives were harmed, no one laughed at him, and I got through my recital swimmingly.
I guess where I’m going with this is, most dads are doing the best they can with the tools they have. A lot of those dads who “hold the baby wrong” have never held a baby in their lives–my husband was one of these. Kudos to them for trying to help soothe the baby and pick it up at all! If you’re married to or related to a dad like this, try and remember this today and let this be THEIR day. Finally, to my own dad and husband first, then all you other dads who are doing the damn thing the best way you know how (and who do indeed have a Y chromosome), Happy Father’s Day!