Close up Hands Tea x

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

Day of Fathers

Today is Father’s Day, a day that traditionally gives dads permission to kick back, relax, neglect working in the yard and do what their heart desires.  For some men, the day might begin with breakfast in bed followed by 18 holes of golf and an afternoon barbecue.  In television commercials the day is capped with sentimental cards given by sweet rosy-cheeked children in freshly pressed clothing.  In our house, it’s not that Rockwell picturesque, but the thought is still there.

 

 

At the risk of sounding like an episode of Oprah, the overall concept of what a father or Father’s Day should be has been a very difficult one for me, but I know I’m not alone.  Nuclear families created over the last few decades have made blended families and un-traditional households the norm and that can understandably make a holiday like Father’s day prickly for a lot of people, not just me.

 

 

I was born on Father’s Day in 1962 and was adopted by a man (who probably really just wanted a tie – not a kid) whose name I carried until I was 21 years old.  I only saw him a handful of times, due to divorce in ’64 and as a result, he never got (or earned) a Father’s Day card from me.  My second “Dad” was a complicated man who was married to my mom for a total of six years and was in and out of my life until he passed away in 2007.  Early in my teenage years, I went to live with an aunt and uncle who have been the truest parents to me, taking on every responsibility (emotionally and fiscally) that accompany the duties of parenthood.  Along the way, I have also had some incredible “stand-in” dads, borrowed from friends, who I love very much.  So, Father’s Day has been a mixed bag of nuts.  Literally.

 

 

As a result, the annual trip to the Hallmark store or card aisle at the local pharmacy was something akin to root canal for me.  Standing before racks of heavyweight cardboard sentiments, beads of sweat would form on my forehead as I read through each card, trying desperately to find words that would suit my unusual parental situations.  But the brain trust of those greeting card companies never wrote things like: “Great fathers teach their kids how to ride a bike, but the guy next door taught me! Oh, Happy Dad’s Day anyway!” or “I want to thank you for standing by me all these years … but I can’t!  Still hope you have a great Father’s Day!”

 

 

It’s one thing to love someone with all of the emotionally complicated nooks and crannies that come with unconventional parental parameters, but it’s a whole other thing to try and boil down your feelings into a card that takes less than 12 seconds to read.  I hated it.

 

As a result, I grew up trying to remember that there are 364 other days in a year when I can pick up the phone, drop a handwritten note or send a quick email to the colorful father figures in my life to say, “Hey!  I just wanted to thank you for … XY and/or Z … over the years” — which takes some of the pressure off of trying to shove it all into one day. 

 

Thank goodness the summer months are a vast holiday wasteland, giving me time to contemplate new ways to acknowledge those I love without any added stress.  And, with time maybe I can come up with a new line of greeting cards that suit my situation and other folks in the same boat who are out there navigating the rocky shores of unusual households.  I welcome suggestions!

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