Today honors those who have taken on the task of being a dad. It makes me laugh (as well as cringe) a little to know that Mother’s Day was created as an official holiday 58 years before Father’s Day was. And I know that today is a difficult day for many whose past or present with the concept of father is a difficult one. I still stand by my thought, though, about why we should celebrate (see Mother’s Day Musings).
In the simplest sense, there is little greatness in becoming a dad. I do not mean to be crude at all, but a few minutes of biological intrigue is all that is required to start off the process of being dubbed “father.” Although many put a great deal of thought into when and if they should become fathers, as many others do not. To be a “father” in the biological sense requires little responsibility. I realize that the same could be said for mothers, but there is that nine months of incubation – a bit more commitment.
The animal world has a great deal of diversity on fathering responsibility.
- The story of Goldilocks does not tell the whole story about Papa Bear. Most male bears abandon the female shortly after mating and have been known to kill or eat cubs – even his own.
- Male lions tolerate their offspring but only allow them to eat after the father has had his fill.
- Few primates father their young past their second year, but titi monkeys carry their young about 90% which gives the young titi monkeys a preference for their fathers.
- Male Emperor Penguins sit on the eggs, and the females rejoin the family once the eggs have hatched.
- In one of the oddest fathering moments (and perhaps gross-est from my standpoint), Darwin’s Frog fathers actually host the eggs in their vocal pouch.
We see a variety of “fathering” in the human life as well. Simply donating half of a child’s DNA does not make one a father in the sense of one to be celebrated. It does, however, create some tie emotionally that tends to pull fathers and their children together regardless of how good or bad the father’s influence tends to be.
I would argue that it is not the biological donation that we celebrate on Father’s Day nor is it biological fathering alone that we celebrate. No – rather, it is the act of fathering that we celebrate today. And for those whose acts fall short of celebration, we remember them and honor them (if we have come to this point in our own lives…we all do at some point…) in our own whether by card or text or a simple prayer, for they likely have guilt for the way that they have not fathered.
Acts of fathering are critical to the healthy development of children. I will not bog down the blog with facts and figures to support something that, in our gut, we call know to be true. Better fathers tend to raise healthier children who become healthy adults. And some sense of fathering is necessary in children’s lives. We gain a sense of how the world works from the standpoint of our fathers.
I happen to adore two men who have shown me what being a great father is.
The first is a man named Rick who entered my life at a time when I needed a father…and, it turned out, my mom loved him and wanted him to be her husband. We have now hung out – living life together – for over 33 years, and it shows. Whether we are folding laundry at the Happy Host Inn, shopping at Sam’s Club, or sleeping through the Vikings’ game on TV on a Sunday afternoon, we like being together. We can almost read each others’ minds, and we obsess about similar things such as the weather, hockey scores, and construction (this one is a stretch for me, but every time I pass a site, I think of him…and this feels like an obsessions – especially during the summer in Minnesota when construction is everywhere!). He has taught more about life than just about anyone else, and his approval means a lot to me. He is a great dad entirely by choice without any biological obligation, but he is more loyal and committed than many who have that tie.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad!
The second awesome dad in my life is known to most readers by the moniker “the huz.” To our children, he is dad – or daddy (when the girl is tired). We did not plan to have children as early as we did; but when our daughter arrived a premie in the eighth month of our marriage, the huz stood at the ready to be a great dad. Neither of us feel as though we know what we are doing most of the time, but we love our kids and who they are growing up to be. The huz has a keen fathering sense that allows him to be flexible at the right time and to put his foot down when necessary. He approaches discipline calmly and logically, and he allows our children to dream up big schemes for their futures. He leads the way in our house by having high expectations and lots of love for the kiddos. They enjoy being with him and would say that he is one of their favorite people.
Happy Father’s Day, Huz!
I am happy to know these two men and have them as guiding forces for my life as well as for the lives of my children. They are foundational, and they are critical. They are a few good men. Today is their day, and they are celebrated.