Celebrating Mother’s Day when it’s hard is hard enough. Celebrating Father’s Day when Daddy is absent can often be that much harder – especially when it means you’re parenting alone. It may be that you’ve never had a dad, or you’ve recently lost a special one, or he is so far away. It may be that the father of your children has passed away or is serving the family and country in another part of the world, or he is a dead-beat dad: a sad reality for many families. Some are glaring in their absence. Others are present in their abuse. Still others are apathetic. All these scenarios can make Father’s Day very hard, because when Hallmark and families around the world are celebrating, the glaring absence of a caring, loving daddy is more obvious than ever before. And it’s hard. Just plain hard.
When I contemplated facing celebrating Mother’s Day when it would be hard – perhaps the loss of my own mother or, God forbid, a child – I couldn’t begin to imagine the depth of pain I may feel. I know that it will be difficult beyond my own frame of reference. I can’t say how I would feel about celebrating the day myself. Nor can I say how I would feel about celebrating Father’s Day in the light of the loss of my dad, dad-in-law, or husband.
But this I do know, the pain of loss is made greater by the fact that a loving mom or dad in one’s life is a wonderful joy worth celebrating. When that joy is missing, the pain is deep. And when others celebrate that joy around you, the pain cuts deeper still.
So, how is one to approach Father’s Day when the pain and hurt is real? I can’t say that I know for sure. Having never experienced that kind of pain, I cannot speak with any kind of authority on how one should or could or must or will handle a day that highlights great pain. But, what I do know is that when a hardworking, loving man fills that position, he is worth celebrating. And I know that even in the absence of worthy men, the office of ‘father” remains a great and virtuous thing. It, too, is worth celebrating.
So, perhaps, with whatever glimmer of hope there may be, celebrating Fathers on Father’s Day, and every other day, is worth doing simply by saying, “yes!” to the office. Yes, dads are important. Yes, dads can have an incredible impact on their children. Yes, dads loving their wives and kids is a very good thing. And perhaps, when we talk to our kids, we could speak less about the anger, disappointment, and frustrations that may be and more about the goodness that is and has been. We hold the power to give them a picture of the kinds of dads and moms they’re going to be. Let’s honor Fathers by equipping our boys and the boy children in our care and influence with the tools to be kind, wise, loving, engaged daddies of tomorrow. And let’s honor Fathers by equipping our girls and the girl children in our care and influence with the tools to be supportive, respectful, caring, and loving wives of those future daddies.
Perhaps then, one day, when we are stronger and the pain is no longer too great a burden to bear, we can celebrate the introduction of a new generation of daddies to our world: our sons fulfilling the office of new dad with integrity, honor, and commitment. And our daughters enabling them to be the best daddies they can be.
It’s a future, I believe, that’s worth fighting for.
Is Father’s Day hard for you or your family? Do you have ideas for making it easier or for celebrating in your own way?