Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thoughts about fathers on Father's Day

It’s unfortunate that Father’s Day is often glossed over. Mother’s Day is in May when school is still in session so teachers organize lots of fun art projects to honor Mom. Father’s Day is in June, often after school is out for the summer. Kids don’t always pull out the dry macaroni for Dad before school is over. Sometimes but not always. Gavin made a handprint in cement and decorated it with rocks when the second graders went to the Rock Quarry for a field trip. It was meant to be a Father’s Day gift so it sat in the top of his closet hidden so his dad wouldn’t see it if he pulled down the CD case for the boys.

Church recognition of Father’s Day is interesting compared to Mother’s Day recognition. My experience has been that Mother’s Day is such a focus on women. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints people are asked to speak on mothers in Sacrament Meeting. The Primary children sing one or two songs to mothers. Gifts are given often in a very deliberate way. Most wards I have been in have the congregation stay in the chapel until the women are presented with a gift. Every woman 18 years and older is asked to stand regardless of marital status or motherhood status to receive her gift.

Father’s Day is much more low key. Some wards have Sacrament Meeting talks focused on fathers. Some don’t. It depends on the ward. Sometimes the Primary kids sing and sometimes not. As far as gifts go, it’s never as elaborate a presentation as it is for the women. The gifts are always candy too. This has always bothered me. Even as a child who was constantly at war with my father, the idea of candy for Father’s Day seemed cheap and unspecial. Imagine my chagrin when I learned that the ward I live in now doesn’t do anything for Father’s Day. No talks, no gifts. Nothing. The Primary children did get up to sing to the fathers today. They don’t always do that. The priesthood is very important to members of my church so I can’t understand why men aren’t honored better on this day.

Forget about religious observances of Father’s Day, what is Father’s Day like in any household? Gifts are ties or other clothing articles. Sometimes tools. The Cosby Show had a cute episode where Cliff lamented his goofy unusable gifts for Father’s Day. The kids bought him presents that were still goofy but at least they put more thought into them. Why is that the go to response? Why is the general consensus that men are difficult to shop for? Does anyone else find that sad?

It bothers me that women are fawned over for Mother’s Day and men are all but looked over after a few random ties are tossed their way on Father’s Day. Women and mothers are extremely important and deserve to be honored but men and fathers are just as important and just as much worthy of honor.

Father’s Day used to stress me out. My father and I didn’t get along. I didn’t approve of many of his choices. I often felt like I didn’t love him. That’s a concept I’m still trying to work through but I have had men in my life that are wonderful. It never bothered me when people slipped up and called my grandpa my dad. My grandpa is such an amazing person who is not happy unless he’s serving others. He has taught me many great lessons. I love the close relationship he has with all his kids, including my mom. That’s the relationship I have watched and admired.

It is no small thing that I have a recording of my grandpa telling his stories. The following is part of that recording.

Enter video caption here

My favorite story that was shared that night was when my mom accidentally wrecked her dad’s boat. I had heard that story before but that night it felt different. My mom explained the whole situation and then she said that what she remembered most about that day was not the way she felt when she made an expensive mistake. She remembered her dad never yelled at her. He just said, “Take me for one more ski before it sinks.” That is my grandpa. He never gets angry. Whether it’s my mom wrecking a boat or me smashing a snowmobile into a tree, he fixes the problem and moves on. Suddenly I really miss my grandpa! I hope I can see him one more time before he goes home to his Heavenly Father. It hurts to imagine him in so much pain right now finally losing to cancer. He is an incredible man.

Another man I don’t mind calling my father is my father in law. Heath calls his parents every Sunday. Today he wished his dad a happy father’s day and his dad said that he is happy to be Heath’s dad. Of course Heath responded with, “I’m glad you’re my dad!” I said, “Me too!” Barry is a lot like my grandpa. Very soft spoken, slow fuse, peacemaker, great stories, incredibly loving, and full of wisdom. I remember sitting in a pool talking with Heath and Barry while my leg hair spontaneously grew from the cold water, and Barry helping me understand the eternal perspective of my childhood.

Heath, Kirk (Heath’s older brother), Tyson (my older brother), and Ed (my sister’s husband) are all awesome husbands and fathers. These men are so loving with their kids. I especially love watching them interact with their daughters. I’m out of words! I don’t know how to describe how blessed I am to have such wonderful men in my life who are everything a father and husband should be. Whenever my kids have a moment where they say things they don’t mean like they hate their dad, I hurt. I try to tell them (note I don’t yell, this may be the one time I don’t have to remind myself not to!) how lucky they are to have a dad who loves them as much as he does. They have no idea what life is like on the other side of the fence. They never will. It’s hard to know what to say when they ask about my dad. I still think they’re too young to understand. But I do tell them how great their own dad is. They love him like crazy. I do too!

For all the fathers out there – Happy Father’s Day! Thank you for being an integral part of your family’s life. Thank you for creating memories with your children that will bring smiles to their faces for the rest of their lives. Thank you for your sacrifices, your service, the life lessons you teach through example. Thank you. I hope your family gave you a big hug and a sloppy wet kiss because you deserve it. I hope on this day you were honored. Mothers are great but fathers are more important than society sometimes gives them credit for. And when a mother and father get together as a dynamic duo, love really can conquer all.

2 thoughts:

Grandma W said...

In our ward the youth wash the dads’ cars the week before Father’s Day and the Relief Society serves homemade pies the last ten minutes of Priesthood meeting. Our speakers talked about fatherhood and the Primary sang. You most definitely belong to the wrong ward.

The Piquant Storyteller said...

Maybe it's a pride issue around here. Maybe the men get embarrassed when people recognize them on Father's Day. I don't know. I just wanted to share my 2 cents that I really respect men and their role in the family.