Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Day of Dads.

“A father’s words are like a thermostat that sets the temperature in the house.” Paul Lewis


True that. 


You can have a house with any number of occupants, from three to thirteen, and when the father opens his mouth (or doesn’t) there are microscopic shifts that take place within four walls that affect everyone inside.  I have no scientific proof of this, but I have years of emotional experience with my own “fathers” (I’m a child of adoption/divorce/foster care – it’s complicated) and the father of my own children.  Take it from me, the man of the house sets the temperature, whether he is aware of it or not.


With Father’s Day comes the onslaught of media reminders that cards are available and barbecues should be attended.  There is a great glossy sheen on these advertisements about what’s to be and to be done, but for me, the 3rd Sunday in June is an annual day of reflection, remembrance and resolution — for it seems that no matter how old I get, there are still issues to attend to in that area.


While I am a HUGE fan of all things advertising (honestly, I have no problem watching television shows with the commercials, I am that woman who will stop the car to read a really well-executed ad or billboard and in waiting rooms I am known to not-so-quietly cheer a super print campaign in magazines), however I have always felt a bit duped by the whole scene when it comes to how Madison Avenue “sells the holidays”.  All my life holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine’s Day have been accompanied by advertising that makes it seem like everybody else is celebrating a MUCH BETTER life than mine thanks to images that seem to be selling nothing other than perfection.  I don’t think I’m alone when I say that Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) has always hollered “Neener-neener!  My parent is cooler than yours!”  Yards and yards of cards display images of dads who take their kids fishing/camping/hiking and who’ve distributed scads of great advice/guidance/wisdom and love.  After well-meaning shopping trips I end up in greeting store aisles muttering “I do believe, I do, I do…” like the Cowardly Lion.  Always, wondering where the more realistic cards were kept: cards like, “Dad!  You never took me on a trip (camping, vacation or otherwise) But thanks for consistently BEING one!”


Parenting is a complicated and sticky business.  I know this from nearly two decades of experience.  One of the most important things I’ve observed is that a child’s temperature can definitely run hot to cold based on a father’s words (or lack thereof).  What I also know is that there is also tremendous gratitude in my heart that over time, human beings are molded by more than just two people.


In my life, there have been many men who have shaped my opinion of what fathering truly means.  One of my first great role models was my grandfather, my Grandpa Andy who (admittedly) didn’t do such a good job with his own three children – but who, luckily for me, mellowed with age and was determined to be all that he could be to me, his non-blood, not legally bound “granddaughter.”  I believe this man could have only loved me more unconditionally if I were a puppy.  I followed his every step, motion and mannerism because I adored him and was equally adored in return.


My grandfather died when I was in junior high, leaving me bereft and bereaved.  I entered high school and met the wise, bespectacled choir teacher who fed my love of music and dispensed much-needed fatherly advice to all of his students, but I believe I needed it and followed it most.  His opinions meant the world to me and I worked very hard to make Mr. Fisher proud of me, long after I graduated.


Around that same time, a friend’s father took on the lion’s role of protector for me and I became an adopted-by-love child of that family.  There have never been greeting cards that adequately describe how grateful I am for this man and how I thankful I am that he took the time to look out for me, making me feel safe, despite having three kids of his own to take care of.


Before I graduated high school, an uncle through marriage allowed me to live with him and his wife, taking on an angst-filled, confused teenager with a fractured past.  He walked patiently alongside me as I grew to be a woman with children of my own and his wisdom and guidance still echo in my heart, acting as my moral compass as I make decisions each day.


The father of my children – well, he is a ridiculously complicated and snarky individual, but also a constant reminder of how incredibly deep a man’s love for his children is and how terribly tricky the whole tightrope of fatherhood can be.


I have yet to meet the perfect poster child of a Dad, but I have known many men with variable attributes that make me think that the whole “Dad” thing is a more complex job than originally thought.  You know, one man might have kind, forgiving eyes, another equipped with the stern brow of guidance and someone else might have patient ears to hear – oh, wait.  I realize, I just described Mr. Potato Head as the perfect father. 


Maybe there’s something to that mish-mash theory.  You know, the whole business of fatherhood could require more of an assembly line kind of strategy to make sure we all grow up and come out okay in the wash!  No man is the perfect fantasy island unto himself – and it is sort of unrealistic that we ask any one man to be all that and a side of (Mr. Potato Head) fries.  Maybe we’d be better off looking around to see who are the role models that inspire us to be better people?  Who are the men we look up to that make us believe in the goodness of mankind?  Who are the men that we want to make proud through our actions, words and deeds?  Those are the men we should probably honor on Father’s Day. 


Whether a card or bbq is involved or not, is up to you.

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