Fair warning, today’s post is not about writing. It’s about fathers.
First off, a little back ground from me. I was raised by a single mom. My dad wasn’t a deadbeat or anything, my mom just decided not to tell him she was pregnant. She’s like that. So growing up was sort of bent in a way that only other kids without dads will understand.
The first thing I want to tell you about growing up without a dad is that as a kid other people seemed more upset about my lack of dad than I ever was. One well meaning lady in my church offered to have her husband escort me to a father daughter event we were having. I really didn’t care that I didn’t have a dad, though. I had my mom, and that was all I thought I needed.
Two things changed my mind as I got older; Cathy and my husband.
You know Cathy, the comic strip? She’s got a complicated relationship with her friends, her husband, her boss, her mom, chocolate, salespeople, shoes and bathing suits. She doesn’t have a complicated relationship with her dad. They love each other unconditionally. When he says she’s beautiful, she believes him.
My husband is the best dad in the world. He has devoted himself to being a daddy and a step daddy. While I’ve got the day job, our daughters are his day job, and his night job too. When the kids get sick in the night, they come find him. When the neighborhood kids tease my kids, they come find him. When they want five bucks, they come find me.
I wish I’d had a dad like Cathy and my girls.
We are a non traditional family. And we’ve faced our fair share of persecution for that in our very traditional little town. It’s hell getting an apartment when the land lord doesn’t think a woman can make enough money to afford it. It’s humiliating when someone assumes that there has to be some good reason why your husband ‘doesn’t work’. I spent longer than I’m happy about making up explanations about why my husband didn’t have a job. I wouldn’t have expected to explain if I was the stay at home parent.
We do it because it works for us, but it doesn’t work for the people who see us and can’t understand what we’re doing. In our society, men are the providers, and women are the nurturers. That’s the sort of society that makes it okay for a woman to not tell the father of her child that he’s going to be a daddy.
So, I told you all of that to tell you this. You never appreciate something unless you don’t have it. Fathers are unappreciated. We hear a lot about the deadbeat dads, the abusive dads, the critical, domineering dads.
I mean, let’s just take a look at how we celebrate Mothers Day and Fathers Day. Mothers Day we moms are showered with love, as we should be. Being a mom is a hard job. Step moms get the love too, which I appreciate the hell out of. Being a step parent is a whole different kind of hard, let me tell you. If you went on tv on Mothers Day and talked about dead beat moms, or moms who drink, they would roast you alive on the evening news. But we say those sorts of things about dads every Fathers Day.
There used to be a whole advertising campaign encouraging fathers to be there for their kids. Do you remember those? “Anyone can be a father, but it takes a man to be a dad.” What do you think would happen if there was and ad campaign like that for women? “Women, let’s stand up and take responsibility for the children we created.” Yeah, I don’t think that would fly. Yes, some men walk out on their kids, but some women do to.
It’s just sexist. And, as a handy tip, here’s how you know if something is sexist, because there is some confusion about this. If you can take any sentence, and switch the gender pronouns and have it be something you wouldn’t want to say in public, it wasn’t okay to begin with.
I couldn’t do what I do, be what I am, without my husband. He keeps the home in check while I write my stories and do my day job. I want to use this very public forum to thank him for that. There’s a couple other people I want to thank, too.
* To every gay couple fighting to be allowed to adopt, thank you.
* To every dad fighting for custody, fighting just to be part of their child’s life, thank you.
* To every dad suffering from Parental Alienation Syndrome, thank you. I know it’s hard.
* To every step dad stepping up and looking after a child by choice, thank you.
* To every coach and teacher who was ever a father figure to kids like me without one at home, let me give you a sincere and heartfelt thank you. It helps more than you know.
So today, thank your dad, your step dad, your uncle, your teacher. Thank anyone and everyone who’s been like a father to you. And if you really want to thank a dad, give them the same freedom we women have. Give them the freedom to be the nurturer.