Father’s Day was just a few days ago. While I am a mother, not a father, I spent much of the day thinking about fathers. I asked myself what it meant to be a father. What is it like to be a father? How is it different from being a mother?
Rather than looking up a definition, I reflected on three generations of fathers: my grandfather, my father and the father of my children.
In general, fathers are the immediate care givers and grandfathers support fathers. Grandparents let the parents raise their child. I truly value the role fathers have in children’s lives. They take full responsibility of teaching values, morals, and perseverance. They also provide love, safety, and self-control. They work hard, love deeply, and provide insight as a male figure.
The same expectations still exist today as they did with my grandfather. Fathers are meant to be a role model, be a provider and be strong and wise. My grandfather ran his household and was the king of his castle. Things were done his way and my grandmother followed what he asked. He did not demand, but he asked. As a grandfather, he was kind, loving and fun. He taught me to swim and ice skate. We would go to the local swimming pool and he threw pennies to the deep end of the pool. I would dive for them and each one I retrieved, I got to keep. When he went to tossing quarters, I worked even harder for them. Literally it was sink or swim, but I knew he was with me if I ever needed help.
My father was the disciplinarian in the house. If I screwed up really bad, Mom would make me wait until Dad got home to have him dole out my punishment. The wait was always the worst. Can you relate? I knew I messed up and disappointed my dad. That hurt me because Dad believed in me. He encouraged me to do more and be better. To this day, the piece of advice that I remember the most is, “Peg’s, Dad was one of the few that called me Pegs, college is important. Remember though that one-half of your education is learning social skills”. I so relate to it now and see how technology is taking away the opportunity for children to learn important social skills. My dad has been gone over 20 years and I miss him deeply. He would be proud my social skills.
After spending time thinking about my grandfather and father, my thoughts turned to the father of my children. My two girls spent time with their dad to celebrate Father’s Day. However, I knew there was a piece missing from that celebration. It made me sad to think about who their father was missing. Courtney has been gone 29 years and Connor 18 months. I imagined how their dad’s heart was hurting. I took on his pain. I cried for him, his suffering, and his grief. To wish him Happy Father’s Day did not make sense to me. I questioned; how could he be happy? I convinced myself he would not want to receive such a message, so I did not send it. However, just a short month before, I received and eagerly accepted Happy Mother’s Day greetings. I was judging how he would respond and thought it would upset him. This was not a fair assumption.
I caught myself doing what I encourage others not to do; being silent in fear of saying the wrong thing. Some of it was my own grief and taking on his. I was sad. Moving forward, I will do better. We still have 2 living children to live for and can stay in the land of the living.
Grief is a journey that never ends. The hills and valleys lessen.