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Sunday musings…Fatherhood and Father’s Day

Sunday musings…

Father’s Day.

The White Family attended the wedding of Beth’s dear friend’s daughter. Single Mom giving away her daughter’s hand in marriage, assisted by her decades-long boyfriend who walked down the aisle with the Bride and give her away in marriage. Mom is not a widow; boyfriend is not the bride’s genetic father. His is, however, in all other ways, a Father.

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating, especially on Father’s Day: any male can father a child. All it takes is to provide the genetic material. Heck, nowadays you don’t even have to be present, you can literally “mail it in”. This has nothing to do with being a Father. Many’s the societal ill that could be treated if more men understood the difference between “baby daddy” and Dad, but that topic’s a little bigger than this little random thought.

Fatherhood is an on-going engagement, a never-ending investment of time-space, brain-space, and emotional-space. Not everyone does it in exactly the same way, for sure. I’ve noted before that my Dad was something of an emotional deaf-mute during our younger years, a kind of Rock of Gibraltar who was right there if you needed him, but silent, looming if not. I still see him, the picture so clear in my mind, quietly rocking while reading the newspaper, seemingly ignoring everything else in the room. Until my sister headed out, escorted by a beau: “11:30 Tracy Jane.” “OK, Dad,” back from her, a little scared-stiff squeak from the guy. While he wouldn’t necessarily come to you, he was very “there” if you went to him.

Other Dad’s have a more proactive approach, trying to tune in to a child’s emotional state of being in part through active participation in  the many of their various activities. These guys turn up not only at games and concerts but may also drop in just to watch a practice or a rehearsal; they might even coach a team or two. My Dad never missed a game unless there was a conflict with another game in which a sibling might be competing, but he wasn’t the Coach Dad. Though he was silent in the stands I always knew he was there. Me? More toward Coach Dad then hang-back silent supporter. Both are effective, but either way ya gotta be there if you can.

Father’s Day as it is often celebrated is kinda funny if you think about my description of being a Father, isn’t it? Today millions of fathers will play golf, go fishing, or do any number of things accompanied by all kinds of people who aren’t their children. I think this harkens back to a time when Dad worked outside the house 6 days a week to provide for the family, and then spent Sunday doing any number of chores or tasks at home that were his to do. Father’s Day was the official “Day Off” I guess. My brother and I were caddies as kids and we would beg the caddy master to put us in Dad’s group on Father’s Day so that we could be a little part of his morning. I remember a couple Father’s Day rounds with Dad, my brother and me, and the three Levin Brothers, family foursome x 2. The afternoon would then be spent sitting at the base of that rocking chair watching the U.S. Open, largely in silence, close enough to catch any stray words that might spill from above.

My take on Fatherhood and consequently my Father’s Day has always been a little different. For me Father’s Day is when I am free to be nothing but a Dad. I’ll be around to do a WOD, help pack, cook breakfast, barbecue, whatever. Every time I hear “Dad, do you wanna…?” I’ll do everything I can to say “yes!” It’ll be really busy, or not. Jammed with activity, or just a day hanging out together. Doesn’t matter; all day I’ll just be in the active state of Fatherhood. Kinda like the boyfriend with no genetic skin in the game who gave away the bride, but who was a Father in word and deed because of what he did AFTER the bride was born. He was Dad. It’ll just be my own personal version of what I do as a Dad, and doing it around my kids.

So Happy Father’s Day to every Father out there in the various worlds I occupy. Happy Father’s Day to every single Mom doing the job of two (you didn’t think I’d forget you guys, did you?). Thank you to Dan, Megan and Randy for being the kids, my reason and my inspiration. A special shout out to Alex, Harlan, and Whitney, my “sometime kids”, who choose to let me be “Papi” when I’m needed.

And thank you to my darling Beth, my better 95%,  for helping me be a better Father today, and every day.



One Response to “Sunday musings…Fatherhood and Father’s Day”

  1. June 22nd, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Rob says:

    Well done. Rob

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