Ah, Father’s Day, that most inexplicable holiday in the calendar. Children, wives and the fathers themselves walk around that day with confused expressions on their faces. What are they all supposed to be doing, or feeling or even pretending to be feeling?
Everyone understands Mother’s Day. The bond between mothers and their children is self-explanatory. Even the act of becoming a mother to a child is one of self-sacrifice and love. Even husbands are unable to be completely selfish on Mother’s Day. We’re forced to acknowledge that our role in the circle of life is the easier side. And we do. Every man in a good marriage honors his wife on Mother’s Day and tries to show some class on that day. And so, he encourages his children to gather around his wife and celebrate the nurturing nature of mothers.
But Father’s Day? I mean, we try to be good fathers. We spend time with our kids and teach them things and show affection. But do we want to be applauded and be fussed over about our role in the family?
What we’d prefer is to get up late, have a nice big breakfast, watch some really bad movie or go fishing or read a book then have a steak dinner and then watch another bad movie and go to bed. Of course, this leaves room for variation. Maybe instead of fishing you’d rather work on restoring an old car or head to the gun range or have a catch with your grandson or something. And I even know some fathers who aren’t happy unless they’re doing home repair projects on their day off. There’s a natural range.
One of my favorite fatherhood memories was taking my son to the north shore of Lake Champlain to fish for pike and bass. It was a long trip and we didn’t know any of the local details for fishing so we tried a row boat which turned out to be a dicey thing on a lake with a particularly strong current. But we caught some fish and ate some bad food and spent a memorable weekend together as father and son.
I guess it’s natural for us to think of our own fathers and try to figure out how we stack up. My own father had six sons and he spent most of his time with us trying to stop us from hitting each other quite so much. He was one of the most aggravated individuals I can remember. He was just outnumbered was his problem. But deep down I think he liked us most of the time. And since I feel that about him, I would conclude that he was a successful father.
So really none of us get to decide if we were successful at fatherhood. It’s the kids who get the last word (although the wives probably would like to add a footnote or two as usual). So, if after they’re grown, they’re still talking to you and if from time to time they still talk about any of the things you did together, then a case can be made for you as a good father. Anyway, that’s my take.