To my husband, my editor, my colleagues, my brother, and my friends who have the good fortune to celebrate Father's Day, congrats. Where would we be without you?
The Toughest Things About Being a Father
1. Receiving cards on your birthday and on Father's Day which, while ostensibly an indication of affection, playfully suggest that you are lazy, cheap, overweight, getting older or going bald. Despite the fact that these are the only items available in major greeting card outlets, your feelings are sometimes hurt, although it is fully expected that you will laugh and say "thanks," anyway. Yet, you can't seem to shake the nagging awareness that their mother has yet to receive a Mother's Day card suggesting that she is fat, cheap, aging or grumpy.
2. Having to refrain from making sarcastic remarks when your offspring wish to dye their hair, pierce their eyebrows or tattoo various parts of their person. It is tough not to say "I would have produced a piece of fabric instead of a kid if I knew all the future held in store was a series of tailoring exercises," but you must not say this.
3. Having not to swear in front of children. Even when you find a melted chocolate bar on the front seat of the car. Even when their bedroom windows are open in the middle of February while this year's heating bills are higher than the salary at your first job. Even when they put caffeinated coffee in the coffeemaker without warning you and you spend the day wondering why your hands are tingling and why you have a sudden wish to sprint down the hallway at work. You don't want them to be confused by learning profanity at home rather than from their peers or from television, like the rest of the kids.
4. Always dropping everyone else off at the door of the (choose most frequent option): restaurant, school event, place of worship, mall or party, and then heading off to search for a parking place. The weather can be a factor in all of this, but you will be exposed to the elements because it will be assumed that you will miraculously be less bothered than others by rain, snow, hail or, for that matter, meteor showers. The knowledge that you will later have to head out to locate the car to pick everyone else up when it is done, only to have to wait while they say their extended farewells or find a really cool bargain right near the door and "it will just take a second to buy it, OK?" is not terribly reassuring.
The Easiest Things About Being a Father
1. In very few households will you be asked at 7 p.m. the night before it is needed to make a costume depicting authentic dress from the Huron tribe for Native American Awareness Day at school.
2. You can make up wholly fictional explanations and rationales for life, explain them in your best authoritative "Dad" voice, and have them be believed, at least briefly. For example, "Those speed bumps are put in front of tollbooth plazas so that hard-of-seeing drivers will have more time to find exact change," is one I was exposed to at a tender time of life. I believed it. It took me years to figure out why everyone else was laughing.
3. You will be told in a casual manner about some of the most momentous events in your children's lives only AFTER they have been resolved. "I told Joshua that I would save up money and go hitchhiking with him in Turkey for the summer even though I have to retake geometry because I didn't quite pass it, but Josh was grounded for having his hair dyed, getting his eyebrow pierced and getting a tattoo. I'm REALLY glad I don't have a restrictive dad like his."
The Worst Parts About Being a Father
1. Phone calls from your kids in the middle of the night.
2. Not feeling like you can say the heartbreakingly tender things to your kids you would like to say because you feel shy, or you're afraid they'd be embarrassed, or because you feel embarrassed or because your father never said stuff like that and you don't know how. The last reason is wholly unacceptable and indicates a need for serious emotional review, but all the other excuses are in fact the very BEST reasons to say the generous things you need to say and they need to hear.
The Best Part About Being a Father
Having all those amazing, astonishing, loving feelings in the first place. Who knew it could be like this?
Happy Father's Day!