Fatherís Day: Why Do Dadís Always Get Shorted? ...by Bill Knell
O.K. Everyone understands why Mother's Day is a big deal. I loved my mom and miss her very much. I appreciated her while she was alive and have no regrets now that she has passed. But it always bothered me that mothers get all the attention on their holiday, while dads barely a get quick nod. Moms get flowers, candy and taken out to a wonderful dinner with all the trimmings. Dad gets a bad tie or a gift card to some fast food place. Hey, dads are people too!
I think that most kids, especially adult children, look at their dads as these strong super heros that go about doing good without any desire for appreciation or renumeration. I can understand that because it is a kind of traditional view. What I can't understand is why people still think that way today. Didn't anyone watch Family Ties when it was still on? Ever heard of re-runs?
It bothers me that people think being a mom is all about sacrifice. Sure, a lot of mothers give up things like jobs, spare time, educational opportunities and money for their kids, but many dads do the same thing. When mothers do it, it is noble and earns them a great deal of sympathy and a lifetime of appreciation. When dads do it everyone thinks they are selfish. Their sacrifices are always misunderstood. Just look at the endless pile of non-fiction and fiction books, TV shows and movies about the dad who worked all the time and had no time for his family. Did anyone ever stop to think that he might not have had a whole lot of choice in the matter?
I have been married to the same goddess for over thirty-five years and I cannot and will not ever say anything bad about her. My wife is a saint. That said, a lot falls on a man when he becomes a husband and even more so when he becomes a father. That traditional view of dads that I mentioned earlier kicks in and people expect husbands and fathers to bring home the bacon, and the more the better.
When my wife and I were first married it was just us. It was nice to be able to go out without worrying about babysitters or calling home to check on the kids. Despite that kind of freedom, there were still bills and they had to be paid. My wife and I have always worked, but at different times. When we first married I had the only income and that put a lot of pressure on me. At no point did I ever want to have to tell my wife that I couldn't afford to buy food or pay an essential bill, so I worked hard and put in long hours.
My work hours became even longer after our first child was born. The choice was simple: Work less, spend more time at home and be short on the bill money, or, work more, spend less time at home and pay the bills. I chose the latter and have always believed it was a responsible choice. As more children came along my work increased. With regard to fairness, I took job breaks and briefly became a stay-at-home dad from time to time so that my wife could pursue her education and career goals.
My pet peeve about Father's Day started back in the late 1980s. I was watching a talk show about fathers and it was either just before or just after dad's 'special' day. There a guy on the show that was probably in his early sixties. His wife and family dragged him on to the show on false pretenses. He was told he was there to help celebrate Father's Day and to be appreciated by his wife and children. Imagine this dad's surprise when he found out that the real reason for his presence was so that his family could confront him about retiring. He refused to retire and had spent a good portion of his life working long hours. That helped him to buy a home, keep the bills paid, take care of his wife and comfortably raise five kids.
The situation quickly deteriorated into a verbal free for all as this man's wife and kids complained about the fact that his work was his life and that he had never spent what they felt was enough time with them. It was always work, work and more work. Now that he could retire, he refused to do so and they said that just proved their point. Of course none of his adult children said anything about helping dad and mom with some cash if he did choose to retire and ran short of bill money from time to time. And it didn't seem like anyone on that show was worried about what would happen to the medical benefits he received for himself and his wife once he stopped working.
Here this sixty-something year old man was sitting on a talk show couch being brought to task for not retiring and working too hard during his life by a host that never married, raised any children or had those kinds of financial or social responsibilities. That man was there for doing what most husbands and fathers would consider their duty. Neither his wife nor his kids looked like they were starving or had ever done without, but all of them whined about him not spending enough time with them when they needed him the most. Well, eeexxxcccuuussseee uuuusssss! We husbands and dads are not Houdinis. We can't escape work whenever we feel like it to run home because someone has had a bad day. When dads have a bad day it's like: Oh, well they do call it WORK, don't they!
I have always tried to be very sensitive to the emotional needs of my wife and children. For me that's part of the job of being a husband and father. Despite that, I could see myself sitting on some talk show couch and listening to Dr Phil's psycho-babble about me or some other host's complaints about what a lousy job I did as a father. Not to be tacky, but perhaps Dr Phil should take some of his own advice. Either way, it's time for dads who cared enough to take care of their families to get the royal treatment on Father's Day. It's also time for everyone to stop whining about their husbands and fathers, and how much time they give to their families.
Nobody's perfect and tough choices are a big part of being a spouse and parent as both husbands and wives know all to well. I hope that as Father's Day draws near all of you kids that have fathers who have worked hard and taken care of you will remember to give good old dad the same royal treatment that you give to to your sainted moms. It's not like you have to bring him breakfast in bed, but be nice enough to spend the day with him and do some special things that you know he would like.