My father has an annual saying come mid-June: "I don't celebrate Father's Day, but thank you. Every day is Father's Day." Of course, his loving, thoughtful children never obliged his wish. Be it a hand-made ornament or a set of golf balls, our guy always walked away with a token of "World's Best Dad" and a few extra hugs.
His discouragement of Father's Day ritual wasn't a mere attempt to shun a cliched tie, well-intended cologne or digital picture mug. As a kid, I just thought he didn't like any hoopla over him for the sake of hoopla. I never fully understood his stance until I watched my husband mirror dad's actions on his own first Father's Day. Smiling at the Hallmark kudos my newborn daughter bestowed upon him (a.k.a., a midnight Walgreen's purchase by moi), my man shook his head. "But... I haven't done anything yet," he whispered.
Granted, our daughter at the time was only a few weeks old, but his notion could not be have been more untrue. More than a passionate provider, more than a best friend, more than a professional hand holder when time presents its toughest stuff, he's a gifted partner with practical, thoughtful care and advice, a gentle spirit with a reliable peace that help guides our family's path. His cool, calm collection was present from my daughter's first days and he still keeps his rock steady now that we are juggling two. Despite it all, he continues to say "it's not enough," or "it's nothing," with each recognition of his parenting prowess. But it isn't nothing. It's everything we need.
It's a little creepy, how you marry your father. But cool. Awesome, really.
But oh, there are differences. My dad: a bearded, quiet, witty, cellphone-less Caucasian, happiest with a good book, a rocking chair, sitting lakeside or on the golf course with loons and bluegrass soundtracking his bliss. My husband: an African-Caribbean from Trinidad, soccer (football) freak, always most at ease on the field with Calypso accompanying his next play. They couldn't look or come from more different cultural backgrounds. Yet their humble natures and undying commitment to family make them identical twins.
Simply put: They rock fatherhood. They just don't talk about it or need you to either. It might slow them down.
The men in my life are on to something. Their whole anti F Day mentality gives them an inner boost toward daily parental achievement, a kick in the pants to know better so they do better, personal pushes toward greatness and never with a need for that #1 Dad lapel pin. My Dad and husband hold up a critical life pillar in this competitive, eat or be eaten fast-paced world: Practicing selflessness and humility will earn you the greatest gift of all. A happy, fulfilling life for you and yours.
So when stupid studies and charts claim a father's worth is "less than" a mom's, this wife, mom and daughter is calling major bullsh*t. Yeah, some moms work a helluva lot and there are sorry excuses for fathers who bring down the awesome average quite a bit. [Fair Factor: Some moms suck, too.] I also can't complain in the "sharing domestic responsibilities" department. But I see some paternal magic going on that shouldn't be overlooked. Sometimes parental heavy lifting comes in quiet life lessons, ones taught by our own actions over words, enriched with dedication, passion and a calm reservation. And thanks to the examples of strong father figures in my children's lives, my kids are learning this principle. It's not about accolades, but about living an honest, love-fueled, always-improving, always giving, modest life.
My children and I will still of course dole out the gratitude on Father's Day and all of our days. It's just how our machine works. Our guys will still get their cutesy trinkets and uninterrupted soccer or golf games to say how much their lives mean to the rest of us. It just will be.
But in truth, we are the ones receiving the greater gift.