Today is Father’s Day. It’s a day that I’ve always met with mixed emotions. You see, my parents divorced when I was quite young and my father went off to create another family with his second wife. As kids, we grew up not really knowing our dad and my mom was forced to play both roles. We saw him very seldom and he did not contribute much financially, if at all.
Being a working mother and not having the support of my dad certainly made Mom’s life and parenting much harder, but we were a tight group of girls, my mom, sister and I, and we had some great times, even if the finances were always tight. I won’t lie, there were times when life was really hard but there were also times when it was really good.
As we went to watch the solar eclipse recently, I told my husband the story about the solar eclipse that happened when we were living in Lincoln, NE. I was probably about 10. Our school wasn’t planning any activities to view the eclipse, and Mom saw this as a huge learning opportunity, so she took the day off, pulled us out of school, and we headed to the local observatory to see the eclipse. It is one of the best memories of my childhood. My mom was great at that stuff, making bold gestures to create memories.
As for my dad, I did finally get to know him in my thirties, only a year before he died. In so doing, I discovered that I was a lot like him, not only in personality but even in gestures. That had to have driven my Mom crazy, but if it did, she certainly never let me know it. I also learned that while we thought for many years that he didn’t care about us, he cared deeply and as a young person, had simply really screwed up and he wasn’t sure how to undo it. What this experience taught me is that it’s never too late to get to know someone and that we should not judge people’s actions without understanding their motivation. That’s not to let him off the hook – he should have been more involved and he should have helped financially – but in the end, I had to forgive him for his absence and his loss was significant.
So, Happy Father’s Day, everyone. Here’s to all the moms who have to fill in for dads who should be there, and for all the dads who need to remember not to miss the opportunity just because it’s a difficult situation. And especially to all the kids caught in the middle – may they find peace about their family the way I have.