This is the last year we’re celebrating Father’s Day in our house.
No, I’m not moving out, and nothing’s happened to the kids. I’m not getting a gender reassignment… nothing like that.
I just don’t see the point of it anymore.
Now, the click-bait title aside, I’m not really in favor of banning Father’s Day. I think the concept of it is wonderful… but I think we have a long way to go before we’re genuinely, universally, honoring those who take on the mantle of fatherhood. And until we get to the point that we’re willing to make it meaningful instead of the quid-pro-quo that it feels like…
The last few years, Father’s Day has been something of a bust here in our house. Much of this comes from the ages our children are, and the nature of dealing with how the Monster’s Autism manifests itself – R is too young really to care about the day (as 3 year olds are wont to do), and the Monster has his very tightly internally-regulated schedule.
So, my Father’s Day the last few years has looked like this:
I get up around 8, when the kids start making noise. I take them downstairs while the wife’s still sleeping – she wears earplugs, so she generally can’t hear them – get them settled with vitamins and juice, and start prepping breakfast because they’re hungry. She joins us when she gets up. I do some clean-up in the kitchen, we discuss when we’re going to head over to the pool. (Insert for this year that we got a call from his OT and SLP, because we forgot that the schedule changed this weekend for the summer, and missed the Monster’s appointment.) Eventually, we manage to make it out the door to the pool, where we have to deal with two very different sets of what-I-want-to-do from both kids, and eventually meander home, where we either re/heat something for dinner, or I grill something…
And this year, while I was preparing pancakes, I asked myself what the point is. Neither child understands what the day is. I know my wife appreciates the role I play in the house, and the style of our lives prevents doing something to show it.
Father’s Day is, essentially, a token holiday to balance out Mother’s Day.
(This is an interesting point that bears examination. In our house, Mother’s Day tends to look exactly like Father’s Day, with the exception that a) the pool’s not open in May, and b) I usually take the kids – myself – out of the house to give her some decompression space, which she needs more than anything else. And as to b, she’s already dealing with the kids alone at various junctures, and so that’s unfair to her.)
But it goes deeper than that. I don’t feel honored or cherished as a father by how Father’s Day is observed.
A couple of examples:
- R’s preschool makes gifts for both parents for their days. The wife got a ‘bedazzled’ mirror and a lovely card for Mother’s Day, talking about how pretty and wonderful she is. I got… a tennis-ball-can-piggy-bank marked “[R]’s College Fund”. Thanks.
- The general message in the media is, “Take Mom out and spoil her” when it comes to dining options on Mother’s Day. On Father’s Day, the message is, “Set Dad to work at the grill.”
- Both of my cards – the one from the wife and the one from the kids – were monkey themed this year. When I commented (and I was genuinely amused that there seemed to be a theme), she mentioned that it wasn’t intentional, but there were few options beyond “golf, fishing, tools and making fun of Dad”. I can remember the bevy of options when it came to hers… are we men not deserving of better?
- But most importantly – Father’s Day looks no different than any other Sunday in our home. I’m doing the same chores, running the same errands, and getting the same down-time (zero) that I get any other Sunday.
So I did bring this up with the wife, that I’d really be quite happy not celebrating Father’s Day anymore in our home – kind of how I don’t celebrate my birthday in any fashion because I don’t feel that’s any differently celebrated either. And after some serious back and forth, I do think she’s understanding where I’m coming from.
I don’t hold it against her that the nature of our lives has me waking up earlier than she does, most mornings. The fact that she could make breakfast once in a while is an entirely separate conversation from the fact that she’s not usually up to do it, and that I know she needs the rest desperately. (Plus, to be fair – it’s self-serving, not to mention asshole-ish, if I wake up and nudge her to go make food.) It’d be nice if I got to do something I’d like to do… but the things I can think of are an undue burden to her or just not feasible right now with our children.
So… maybe someday, in our house, we’ll un-ban it. But for now…