Father’s Day is a complicated holiday for me. While it is supposed to be a celebration of the men in our lives, it’s often a day of regrets for me. Cards and commercials force me to consider the choices I’ve made over the years and the permanent consequences of those choices –consequences my children must live with even longer than I will. After all, they are forever connected to the men I chose as their fathers.
My kids make it impossible for me to want to change the past, for without those choices, I would not have them. But I do wish I had been more selective. I wish they had the kind of father who is more of a dad than a father. The kind you can call anytime and know, unequivocably, he’ll come rescue you. The kind who accepts you as you are, even when his values do not mesh with yours at the moment. The kind of father who never misses a soccer game or dance class. The kind who grasps the importance of spending time together, who will drive 45 minutes one way just to take you out for an ice cream cone. The kind who puts his needs below that of his children.
Don’t misunderstand. My kids love their fathers. I’ve worked hard to encourage their relationships, and I can honestly say I’ve never said a disparaging word about my ex-husbands in front of my underage children. I want them to believe their fathers love them unconditionally.
But I wish it were easier.
I know firsthand how critical it is, for girls especially, to have healthy male relationships. While I was blessed to be surrounded by strong women growing up, only one man was a constant in my youth. My maternal grandfather died before I was old enough to even remember him. My paternal great-grandfather was riddled with Alzheimer’s, and I vaguely remember visiting this man who had no clue who my dad was, let alone his granddaughter.
I am lucky to have a dad who would give anything for me and my children. He’s the one who drove me to doctor appointment after doctor appointment over the last year. He transported my kids to their extracurricular activities when I wasn’t able. I could call him right now and say, “Dad, I need you.” There would be no questions asked. He’d simply say, “I’m on my way.”
If I ever need to hide a body, Dad is my guy.
On top of this, he’s a saint to his grandkids. He’ll spend hours just walking back and forth across the meadow with his grandson. He keeps their pool in tip-top shape, sparkling clean and at the perfect temperature, not for himself, but us. He’ll rock my sister’s son Grant to sleep for hours. He’ll sort a bag of Jolly Ranchers just to have Izzi’s favorites, blue and green, in his pocket at all times. When he picks Gracie up on Wednesdays to take her to dance class, he has a McDonald’s Happy Meal in her seat before she even gets in the car. He looks at my sons, now both high school graduates, with a mixture of pride and awe. As they hug him, I know he thinks the same thing I do; when did they get so much taller than him?
There is a song by Charlie Puth that seems to play every time I get in the car lately. Each time I hear it, it bring tears to my eyes as I think of my dad.
“No matter where you go
You know you’re not alone
And when you’re weak I’ll be strong
I’m gonna keep holding on
Now don’t you worry, it won’t be long
Darling, and when you feel like hope is gone
Just run into my arms
I’m only one call away
I’ll be there to save the day
Superman got nothing on me
I’m only one call away
I’m only one call away”
He is my Superman. My hero. The man who serves not only as my father, but also as the one who picks up the pieces when my children’s fathers sometimes fall short. He’s a bit of an anomaly –a Harley man who adores his little Yorkie named Pepper, a notorious “bad boy” who weeps during movies, a tough guy who is just as in love with my mom today as he was when she was 19. Simply put, my dad is one of the good guys.
I am so grateful that my mom chose him all those years ago.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Thank you for being so much to so many. We love you.