It doesn’t seem like 2 minutes since I was enduring physics in the name of celebrating father’s day last year, but once again here we are. A nation celebrating all that is good about Fathers.
And there is a lot that’s good about them, so it’s right that we should, but I also think it’s important to remember that not everyone has one to lavish their attentions and/or a pair of hideous socks or a bottle of cheap red on today, and that even those that DO may have their reasons for not wanting or not being able to.
My Dad hasn’t been around for father’s day for a few years now, on account of he passed away at the ridiculously young age of 49 after a lifetime of alcoholism, and so father’s day for me is now much more about celebrating the wonderful guy who I’ve chosen to build a life and start my own family with. But today that guy is off to work for an eight hour shift in a place where just yesterday he was assaulted by one of the young people he works with, many of whom also won’t be feeling warm and fuzzies towards their own fathers- if they have them- today.
Fatherhood, and in fact parenthood, and indeed families in general, are so bloody complicated. It’s like that old adage “Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em”
As parents we don’t need to worry that we won’t have an impact on our childrens’ lives, even absentee parents make an impact- just by the very fact of not being there. Everything we do and say (and indeed everything we don’t do and don’t say) has an impact on our children, the real worry is whether it’s positive or negative, and what that will mean for their own lives, and relationships, and children (if they choose to have them) moving forward.
It would be wrong to hold my Dad up as an example of what is fantastic about fathers on this day, when his battle (and it was a battle) with alcohol coloured my entire childhood, and is something I carry with me always. Not to say that everything that has ever happened to me has been his fault- or because of the drink, but that when someone in a family has an addiction, or an illness, be that physical or mental, it is never just them it affects, and it is never really over, even when it is.
But he was my Dad, and as I get older I can appreciate more and more that to be a Dad can mean so many different things. For me it was having someone teach me calligraphy, and how to play chess, and show me how to make a garden from a pile of dirt. Incidentally, all things I couldn’t do now if you paid me. It was a shared loved of pork scratchings and old books and a million broken promises, all forgiven. My Dad loved me, and I loved him and although that wasn’t always enough, it is enough now.
For my own children- there’s much more. Their Dad loves them, and he’s here everyday, sometimes they might not see him because he’ll have left for work before they wake up and be back after they’ve gone to bed, but when he’s here he’s HERE. He plays with them (and is much better at it than I am) and teaches them things I know nothing about, and swings them around and throws them in the air higher than I’d ever dare. He can put his own worries aside to listen to theirs, and he works hard to make sure they never go without.
He got out of bed at 7 this morning to make a bottle for a baby that isn’t his, and then taught the boys to play snakes and ladders whilst I made breakfast. Now he’s off to work, and when he gets back tonight I know he’ll ask about our day before he tells me about his.
When it comes to Dads, he’s definitely one of the good ones. Maybe even the best in fact (but shhh don’t be telling him that, his head is big enough as it is 😉 )
Father’s Day is just always going to be one of those funny days for me, an out-of-the-blue reminder of how things were, what they could have been and what they actually are right now. I just feel lucky that the latter is such a good place and with such fantastic people around me, that I wouldn’t swap it for anything, no matter what came before.
Happy Father’s Day to all those Dads out there who deserve a bit of recognition and appreciation, and massive hugs to all those who for whatever reason can’t celebrate today- why not buy yourself some socks and a cheap bottle of red and remind yourself just how wonderful YOU are 😉