In Australia, Father’s day is the first Sunday in September. I guess it clashed with Labour Day here in North America so the government moved this important day.
Father’s day has always been a low key affair in our household, as I suspect is the case for many.
It’s not that Zach and Sam don’t care, I think it’s a societal view that fathers don’t need much adoration or encouragement. Far from it!
It feels like recognition for fathers and what they contribute to both family life and the raising of their children hasn’t kept pace with the level of appreciation that I believe is due.
Maybe I’m alone in this, but it would be nice to feel valued more than just at Father’s day. Perhaps it’s just a generational thing and as the kids age they value you more.
Now that I look back on this it was certainly true for me and my dad.
In addition, I marvel at the significant difference in the way I parented my two kids versus the way I was parented back in the day…
Clearly it’s a different era, with vastly different distractions and expectations and virtually impossible to stack up against one another neatly.
For instance I noticed that soon after the Zach was born I became a a non-entity in the grander scheme of things, and no that’s not just my ego talking! (yes that’s your outside voice) 🙂
The universe seemed to shift and focus entirely on the mum and beautiful baby, as it should – except that the universe, for me at least never seemed to shift back to any sort of equilibrium.
As a father I honestly felt I became completely invisible.
My role became primarily the “muscle” in the relationship, the one who lugged all the bags, and struggled under the weight of car seats, strollers, portable cribs, and all the kiddie accoutrements whenever we went somewhere.
I had suddenly faded into the background to become the jack-of-all-trades, the night guy when Zach and Sami woke at ungodly hours hungry, wet or crying, the guy who cleaned up the many pooh explosions (oh yes, there were quite a few!)
I know I’m not alone when I say that being a dad can be a lonely role.
Don’t get me wrong I love being a dad! I feel truly blessed each and every day to have Zach and Sam in my life. They bring meaning to my life and wonder where I’d be without them.
But then I begin to think about my dad and the relationship we had.
And there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t wish I had more time to spend with him…
My dad was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer in August 2010 and I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Australia and spend time with him before he passed away
From the day dad was diagnosed to the day he died was six months almost to the day. The absolute blessing was that this was five months longer than expected.
He died on Valentines Day 2011…
In that last six months I seemed to take on the father role in our relationship and was his daily chauffeur for the endless chemotherapy treatments, blood tests and doctor’s appointments.
That being said I was very fortunate to have this final opportunity to spend time with him, as heart breaking as it was.
One of the most important moments with dad was when I sat him down over coffee and told him exactly how much he meant to me. Both our eyes filled with tears and he tried to stop me by saying “you know we aren’t that type of family…”
Too bad I told him. I don’t want you to say a word, just listen.
I told him how much he meant to me, and about how every time I had to make a big decision in life, I would often think about what he might do in my situation.
This approach provides great comfort knowing that his influences and values continue to this day.
I also saw the joy in his eyes when my younger brother James and I would stay with him and help him with his dinner during his hospital stays.
My dad was a man of few words, the quintessential Australian if you like, a battler…he was the “dinkum oil” as they’d say. Authentic and true! 🙂
I still miss him, and don’t think you ever get over the loss of your parents.
So, next time you see your dad thank them for being them – don’t wait for Father’s day or a special occasion.
Tell them how much they mean to you, as a role model, or perhaps for their support and guidance or for just being there for you.
To my astonishment Zach did exactly that this past weekend, without any prompting from me. 🙂
His words were straight from the heart, and I could feel that he meant every word.
You will never know what those words meant to me and how powerfully touching they were…
As you probably know by now I have a deeply sentimental soul and his words really moved me, yep I teared up…no denying it. 🙂
All I can say is that being a dad is the best job ever!
Until next week