I find it strange that we do not make more of a fuss of Father’s day. Prior to Mother’s day aisles in the supermarket are dedicated to sickly sweet confectionaries and equally sickly sweet sentimental cards. The blogging sphere lights up excitedly, and posts about mums and what mums do, what they mean and who they are, populate our social media feeds.
Father’s day is comparatively quiet. In one way, I don’t really miss the commercialism but I also wonder, why aren’t we making as much fuss of dad?
Don’t get me wrong, I have loved celebrating Mother’s day with my own mum and have a special kind of pride in marking the day now that I am a parent. I do worry though, with society’s focus on mums being the primary and most important caregiver in kids’ lives, whether we are placing more pressure on mums and simultaneously ignoring the vital role that dads do have in shaping their kids.
I wonder if our dads know how much they DO influence our lives and how much we need them? I wonder if they know that we NEED them to be just as present as our mothers?
So to mark the day, I am celebrating two great dads that I have been lucky enough to have in my life:
– My father, is a gentle comforter, and no matter what time in the night I woke up needing that comfort, he was there.
– He taught me how to apologise gracefully. I think it takes a special type of parent to apologise to their hormonal bratty teen, when an envitable clash happens.
– Like my mother, he paid no attention to my gender and the roles society expected of it. He taught me how to cook lemon curd, re-wire laps, build tables and carve boats. Whatever I was interested in; gemstone polishing, archaeology, dinosaurs, building windmills or baking an epic cake to serve 70 for my mother’s 40th; he would be there to help me nut it out, usually with an accompanying subscription magazine.
– At 12 when I got my first period; my mother cooked a special dinner to celebrate it, and my father came home with a bunch of roses for me. These simple gestures on behalf of both of my parents, taught me that I do not need to be ashamed of my body and its functions. That my body is something to be celebrated. There was no awkwardness or labelling my life event as ‘woman’s business’. It makes me think that mothers AND fathers are essential in assisting a young girl to develop a healthy sense of self.
– He never dumbed things down. If we asked for an explanation or wanted to know how something worked, he would tell us. Most of the time we had no idea what the complicated terms and concepts meant, but we appreciated being taken seriously!
– He was FUN. We went on epic bike rides together to fetch croissants. To a Melbournian, this might not sound too out of the ordinary. However, I grew up in South Africa during the apartheid. NO ONE walked or cycled anywhere in our suburb. It taught me that no matter what is going on, we have to try and live our lives, and try and live out freedom in any small way that we can.
– We debated often in our house (both my parents where very good at this). These debates were frequently heated intellectual debates over long dinners. This lesson in the play of ideas, taught me to always consider the grey areas in a situation and carefully weigh different accounts. My father; playing devils advocate; used to drive us all crazy. But now I appreciate his postion more. We always need an advocate for the other side of an argument.
– The early education in debating taught me to think for myself. To question what was around me, and to never take any idea for granted. This lesson was an especially important one for a privileged ‘white’ girl growing up in a sequestered suburb in tumultuous Johannesburg. Through his gentle guidance, I learnt that everyone has a story, one that contributes and forms and influences the paths people take.
– Teaches my son to play gently and is endlessly gentle himself.
– Takes time with my son. Hours can be spent with heads together drawing and singing Jackson 5 songs, following my boy on his long meanders through the park or patiently waiting while my train mad son watches EVERY single one pass. Though this patience my son gets to learn and explore without pressure. I often marvel at this when we are at the supermarket. I am inclined to just pop my complaining Mr 2 into the pram and just ‘get things done quickly; while my husband comes home proudly after a trip to the supermarket regaling the travels my toddler took, the things he had fun picking out, and how many ‘little trolleys’ he managed to push at once.
– He has saved every drawing my son ever made. Whether it is a scribble on a paper bag or a painting, it gets carefully put away and catalogued. Every endeavour is precious. I have seen his heart almost break with the prospect of wiping away ‘a particularly good drawing’ scrawled on the kitchen table.
– He believes in discipline in the old sense of the word. That discipline is not about punishing your kid after an action has occurred or strict rules. Rather, it is about joyously and studiously encouraging our child to make the right decisions himself.
– He is endlessly patient. When our two-year old is whinging (as two-year olds are wont to do), he stops what he is doing, kneels down to my son, meets him in the eye and says ‘so what is it you need?’.
– He actively teaches our son that love and attention are what matters.
– He really gets how kids think, and engages with our son using a language of shared songs, special secret stories or games. They cackle joyously together making ‘dinosaur soup’ or playing ‘up-down’ (basically lots of squats traversing the lounge ). I woke up once after sleeping in with the flu; to find that the entire lounge had been turned into a railway track and a series of roads. Coloured masking tape cut pathways over coffee-table ‘hills’, under chair ‘tunnels’ and right over the lounge floor into the kitchen.
– Nearly every evening, I hear my husband mutter, half asleep and with enthusiasm ‘ Our little boy is so amazing’. I always think to myself; how wonderful for my son to be so SEEN, so LOVED and APPRECIATED.
I hope you had a wonderful Father’s day whether you are one or you have one. We spent the day at the zoo and are very tired, very full and happy!