June 17, 2006
FATHERS, FEELINGS AND FEARS
A father is neither an anchor to hold us back, nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way.
The first Father's Day was observed on June 19, 1910 in Spokane Washington. Finally in 1966, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring the 3rd Sunday of June as Father's Day.
Great. But life isn't universally about Father Knows Best or mom's applie pie. Stuff happens.
About half of all marriages fall apart, which means there are a lot of kids out there who are part of broken families. That's a staggeringly sad statement. On the other hand, the uncanny ability of kids to survive and even thrive is remarkable.
As the father of an 18-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son, both of whom live with their mother but who I see at least every second weekend, Father's Day can be uplifting but also ultimately sad and lonely.
A recurring theme and question in my life is how, when I'm not with my kids every day, I can be the positive influence, disciplinarian, loving support or whatever else a dad needs to be if he cares.
That can sometimes be a difficult proposition if you're not there to see them cry, laugh, struggle, flourish.
I wasn't there to see the huge smile on my daughter's face when she brought home her first steady boyfriend; I missed out on being there for my son when he got the boot from his first female flame or flunked that French test.
No single, non-custodial Dad can change the sad reality of a broken marriage or, for that matter, make up for all those lost magic moments that he would have otherwise experienced with his kids.
But he can continue to tickle his daughter when he sees her and tell her how beautiful she is and how proud he is of her being an honors student, yet again.
And he can still give his son a stern look or lecture when warranted, take him out to play catch, drive him to the mall so he can hang out with his friends and feed him every hour.
There are Deadbeat Dads. But if you're not, there are huge voids in your life that can never be fully filled. All you can do is offer the unconditional love that you are ready to give them and be there when they need you or want you to be.