It’s been 26 years since the passing of my dad from his terrible suffering here on Earth, to the warm comforting arms of Heaven. It’s been 25 dreaded Father’s Days for me, his only child. Yet, for the first time since his passing, I am actually looking forward to this Father’s Day, and I had forgotten what it was like to anticipate, even become giddy at the thought of celebrating the life of a father. I am meeting the parents of my boyfriend for the first time this Sunday, and I could not be more honored. As an only himself, Doug’s relationship with his parents is incredibly strong. How could I not love these parents that created and raised such an amazing son?
As my mind has played around with this notion for the past week, I’ve experienced everything from shyness and hesitation to excitement and anticipation. Meanwhile, Doug has assured me that they will absolutely ‘love me’ every step of the way. That’s how he rolls, after all. As I step back, four days out, I’ve come to realize some things. Fatherhood is every bit as important as motherhood. Being raised (after the age of 11) by a single mom, and being one myself, I tend to take for granted the roles that fathers play in the lives of their children. Whereas moms are typically the ‘easy’, father’s take on the more difficult role as the ‘heavy’. I’ve seen this with my own 13 year old’s father, but it’s only now that I’m truly understanding the difficulty in assuming that role.
No matter how much you love your child, as a father, you are expected to always be the parent, the disciplinarian, the ruler. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen fathers that would sooner shoot themselves in the foot than take on that role. But in the case of Doug, that simply was not the case. When it was time for the business of parenting, the tough-love to come into play, Jim was the man for the job just as my dad had been. That sort of ‘no-nonsense’ parenting has fallen off the wayside with many in my generation. Yet I know, for a fact, that it’s effective. Tough love can mean the difference between raising a self-sustaining adult and an adult who still possesses entitlement issues, expecting everyone and anyone to come to their rescue. I’m not saying that mother’s cannot also demonstrate this style of parenting, of course. My mom, due to circumstances, had no choice but to parent this way. But by and large, for most two-parent families, this is the norm, and fathers tend to get sadly overlooked.
So this Father’s Day, if you have a dad, give him a big hug and say ‘thank you’. I’ve had a stepfather for the past 16 years, and he took that role on in the most loving and selfless way, even though I was already an adult when he officially stepped in. Even after my mom’s passing, he continues to succeed in his role, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Dads are strong, protective, and wise. Let’s give them their due. Without them, we would be in a much darker place.