Fathers are about to have their Day! It's honestly a non-celebratory day for a lot of dads because a lot of men I've found have only one wish on Father's Day -- to be left alone. I suppose it can be a celebration of liberation for a man who gets to spend the day in his under-britches scratching, eating bad food, and napping in his recliner. As a father of 3 teenage daughters, I completely understand. Let's consider some of the phases of this blessed journey called 'Fatherhood'.
At one point, your father had to woo your mother. I know this may seem impossible, or you may not believe it, but once upon a time your old man had that swagger like Jagger and your mother fell for it... poor mom!
Like grandpa always said, 'Good things come to those who wait-except your mother, and that's why she's stuck with your father.'
— The Refined Ruffian (@CulturedRuffian) August 14, 2015
Next, you were conceived and born! I know, I know -- it may be difficult to comprehend your mother would consider marrying him, but it's more difficult to believe she conceived children with him. Thank God she did though, because we're alive to read this! Either way, the man made his contribution and will forever be a part of the fabric that is you.
Nine months is a long time to carry a baby but it can also be a great time to train a man to obey odd requests during all hours of the day. My wife would want crazy things like olives and ice cream at 3:00 a.m. What does an intelligent man do? He puts pants on and goes and gets the lady olives and ice cream -- that's what he does. The only discussion to be had about such a request is 1) What kind and 2) How many. Although the man usually has no clue -- he's being groomed for fatherhood.
When it comes to showtime, most men assist with the trip to the hospital and the birth to some extent. Lots of men these days attend OBGYN visits and lamaze classes. I did. Watching your wife's visit to her doctor makes you appreciate the once-a-year 'cough' at your doctor's office. Delivering, cuddling and changing the diaper of a plastic baby at lamaze class may also require you to check your man-card at the front desk before class. After all of that is over, there may be multiple false alarms during all hours of the night and/or day. Braxton Hicks, contractions, and other issues may create false alarms and multiple 'practice runs' to the emergency room. I had a packed suitcase, including clothes, snacks, video games, pillows, MRE's and much, much more. Now that you've had all that practice, you're ready!...or are you?
Finally, the day comes. It's actually a relief to get there and see this little guy or girl be born. Dads have different types of personalities when it comes to this part: There are the guys who can't look and then there are the rest of us who don't want to watch, but we can't turn away. I'm a looker, a helper, an encourager and a cheer captain. During my first two daughter's births, I was the chief motivational speaker and annoyance to the hospital staff. I'm pretty sure I ate more hospital food than my wife did. Some dad's like to get really involved like I did -- I literally scrubbed in and delivered my third daughter. It was amazing and even though they look like little aliens when they're born sometimes, I instantly fell in love with these little, helpless people and felt the need to protect and provide immediately. Unfortunately, the kid wasn't old enough to drink Mountain Dew out of a bottle yet and since I wasn't lactating, I gave them to their mother. I know -- good call on my part.
The next few years can be crazy -- dirty diapers, teething, crawling then walking, potty training, sometimes stitches, broken bones, bruises, lost teeth, camping, fishing, hiking and lots of growing up. Many dads are involved in and or leading these activities. Dads are also like a walking Wikipedia-like an encyclopedia, but with a bit of a spin and some of it completely fabricated. I was fortunate to learn many skills from my father, but I just don't seem to do any of them as good as him. I was the first born. A son. My dad is big on outdoors activities, and I was a pretty big failure in that department. I loved air-conditioning, malls, snacks, tv, movies, video games and laying around in general. It was a difficult mix for a father and son, but having a legally blind, chubby kid like I was for a son hopefully taught him some things, and having an outgoing, outdoorsy father taught me some things.
We all know that growing up is hard, but let's think about our parents -- raising kids is difficult also. Put yourself in their shoes. Your mother and father have a never-ending responsibility of raising you. In most cases, there is no class for raising children. What are you supposed to do? How do we deal with raising children today in this harsh, cruel world of uncertainty? How do we pay for them? Clothing, shoes, school, extracurricular activities, cars, insurance, college, weddings, ect...? For as many reasons you may have to hold a grudge or be upset at your parents, you have 100 times the reasons to love, honor and respect them. Sometimes dads may not seem to play as prominent role in raising children, but he often bears a lot of the financial liability and responsibility for holding things together and for making it work. Let's give the guy the respect and love he's due this day.
I understand many of you may not come from a traditional home. Maybe your father died. Spend this day honoring him and his memory. Maybe you never had a father in the home. Find that man who you looked up to as a role model and tell him how much you appreciated him. Perhaps your parents are divorced like mine. Call your biological father and let him know how much you love him and then find your step-father or the man that may have raised you and share with him your thankfulness and thoughts. Whatever your situation this coming Father's Day-bring happiness, share love and encouragement.