Yesterday was Father’s Day, which I consider to be the “as long as you’re helping a kid grow up you get saluted” holiday. Single mothers get the shout out on Father’s Day (which I’m not against but I don’t really do it – I understand that single mothers play a dual role, but they are mothers. They have a holiday already.), uncles, cousins, mentors and “father figures” get the shout out on Father’s Day, and finally the dads get their shout out. You know what apparently comes with all of the shout outs? A lot of dad issues come out on Father’s Day, with people angrily tweeting, Facebooking, talking, writing, blogging, and the like about how they don’t like Father’s Day because of the bad dads out there (theirs included, I imagine). There are a ton of terrible fathers out here. Some aren’t bad people, just immature to the situation. Some are legitimately bad people. Some are bad baby daddies, where they don’t take their responsibility to their child. Just as important to acknowledge are two things – there are plenty of good dads out here; and there are also plenty of bad moms too.
You know what I don’t see on Mother’s Day? People talking bad about their mothers who abandoned them, people saluting single fathers for their dual roles they have to play, or shout outs to general “mother figures.” I’m sure it happens, but it’s not nearly as prominent as the bad dad talk. It’s an easy card to play – the numbers are out there on absentee parents and it doesn’t look good for the guys. It’s an easy bandwagon to jump on. For many of the angry people, it’s also right in step with how they feel because of their personal experiences. If your dad left you, Father’s Day very well could be a bittersweet (or just plain bitter) day. But there was (and have been) plenty of negative comments about Father’s Day, even directed towards those who were celebrating their Father’s Day. I imagine it could get downright annoying to check your social networking sites and see all of these people saluting their dads and all and you think to yourself, “I never had a dad. This is just another day for me.” Maybe it leads to lashing out at others. But that’s not what Father’s Day is about.
Mother’s Day gets all of the love and we know there are some terrible, horrible, no good mothers out here. We all likely know some bad mothers and bad fathers. So why use Father’s Day as the lashing out holiday? It’s about saluting dads, not talking shit about them. And I want to salute three new dads I know, because they remind me that we’ve got plenty of good, caring, positive fathers to hold up as examples.
The newest dad is a cousin of mine, and seeing his life change as he went from bachelor to married with child was nothing short of spectacular. Not only did he step up and make the life changes he needed to in order to be a good husband, he really got excited about getting himself ready to be a dad. When I first saw his son I was whispering because he was asleep, and my cousin told me that it’s louder inside the womb than in the house. My first thought was, “He read the baby books!” That was when I knew he took the process seriously and seeing him with his new family brings a smile to my face.
A friend of mine in Memphis had a kid in the fall and he still sends me texts about how being a father dramatically alters your worldview. His son is “little him,” and he’s mesmerized watching a smaller version of himself learn how to move around, communicate, and interact with the world around him. He’s been married for a few years, but being a dad really seemed to change him for the better. He made sure to keep on doing his regular routine but he made some major adjustments to it so that he can be there for his son, not just provide for him.
My last dad to salute is another Memphis buddy of mine. He’d been married for a few months when they had their little girl, and I noticed the change from fiancee to husband but I really took notice when he went from not-daddy to Daddy. The word is responsibility, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s not just taken responsibility to be a good husband and father but he wants to. It’s not done begrudgingly, but with a smile. All of these guys were happy to become dads, not sad, and they certainly show it. So kudos to you three and to all of the other dads out there doing the best they can with what they have. Being a parent isn’t easy and it’s easy to forget that, especially as we are still maturing (or aren’t parents ourselves). I propose for next Father’s Day, we hold a campaign to reduce the Father’s Day hate. It might not successfully reduce the hatred, but by highlighting some of the good dads we know, it might broaden people’s horizons about what kind of men are being good fathers. The truth? All kinds of men are being good fathers, and we should spend time saluting them rather than throwing shade on the dads that never were dads.