Fatherhood. What do I know about it? I’m a mother. And just because I’m a single mother, doesn’t mean that I know anything about being a father, or that I DO the role of a father. I do the role of a single mother. That’s what I am. And I’m so proud of it, that I don’t need to claim recognition on someone else’s day.
I was really shocked this week when I heard about this publicity stunt – err, excuse me – proposal by a child services educator to rename Father’s Day as Special Person’s Day. Is nothing sacred anymore? Is the Queen’s birthday up for grabs next? We might offend the Australian Republicans, you know. Brazenly celebrating the monarchs and all.
The professor behind the noise is a Dr. Red Ruby Scarlet (because THAT is a serious name of someone worth listening to) claims that the movement towards changing the day is one about inclusivity. And before I totally dismiss that there could be any logic behind her proposal (which I’m unashamedly about to do), I would like to acknowledge that Father’s Day is not an easy day for everyone.
There are families who have never had a dad in the picture. There are families who have recently lost theirs. There are people who only see their fathers in their nightmares. And others who wonder if they’ll ever even know his name.
As sad as these situations might be, they are no less real for families who struggle through Mother’s Day, Christmases or birthdays. None of us are untouched by grief. We all have places in our hearts where loved lived and left, or where loved should have lived and never existed. Nobody said life would be easy. We already know we won’t get out alive.
We can’t take away the darkness. But nor should we let it rob us of the brightness that deserves to be celebrated.
There are some incredible fathers amongst us. In my opinion, unpopular as it probably is, they don’t receive anywhere near as much recognition as mothers do. Maybe it is because childrearing has been a traditionally female role. Or maybe it’s an echo from the feminist movement. Every time I see a girl power sticker that says some version of “Women Can Do Anything”, I wonder to myself why we need to keep announcing it? And I also wonder how people would react if the sticker said “Men are so Powerful”, or some other shameless version of the male might.
Personally, I find it embarrassing. There’s plenty of room on the podium for both the guys and the gals. Everyone gets a turn, so chill out Dr. Ruby Raving Mad Scarlett and go make yourself a cocktail. Sounds like you need it. Today we are cheering for Fathers, and that’s ok.
We are saluting the men that went out at 2:48am to get their pregnant wife tavern chips and gravy, because it was the only thing in the world that mattered to her at the time. We high five the nappies you changed balancing on chipboard at Bunnings. We thank you for the safe arms you wrapped around our toddlers when they learnt to walk. Thank you also for the awful meals you tenderly made- which everybody hated, because it didn’t taste like mum’s.
We appreciate how hard you’ve worked through the years, even when it kept you away from the bedtime stories you would have rather told. Thank you for the bugs you’ve killed and for the mouldy mysteries you’ve fished out from under the car seats. We salute the single dads buying tampons for their teenage daughters. We are grateful for the men who sacrifice precious time with their families in order to serve their country abroad.
There is really so much beauty in Fatherhood. Oh, and noise and vomit and exhaustion too. Fathers deserve to be celebrated every day. As do mothers. That, in my opinion, is true inclusivity. When I sent my ex-husband a text today saying ‘thank you for being an amazing dad to our boys’, I didn’t feel like it detracted anything from me as their mother. Yes, we kill bugs and work long hours too. Nobody said we didn’t.