If it weren’t for our dynamic media commercializing holidays, such as Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, would you walk into a store and buy your mom or dad a “Mothers’ Day” or a “Fathers’ Day” present, whatever those are, just because?
Let’s be real here, most people don’t even speak to their parents until those particular days when they send mere “Happy Mothers’ Day, mom”, or “Happy Fathers’ Day, dad” texts, etc. I mean, I don’t know how often Ashton Kutcher speaks or even interacts with his mom, but I bet renovating her basement as he did this Mothers’ Day would have been done any other day – it’s not as if he’s the kind of son who needs to “save” some extra cash to do something nice for his mommy dearest. Heller, the man can afford it! But I totally respect what he did. Brought up by a step-father and now a father to his sweet daughter with Mila Kunis, that was sweet.
But for you and I; what would motivate you to go out of your budget, especially when you have a family of your own, to spoil your dad or that father figure rotten on every third Sunday of June or even mom, on every second Sunday of May?
For starters, most people in our generation grew up with absent fathers, leaving them brought up by their single mothers. But do they celebrate their single moms on Fathers’ Day, or is that day just reserved for dads? And if anything, what kind of dads do we celebrate on Fathers’ Day? Anyone one with a [biological] child?
Well, I intentionally did not say much on Fathers’ Day besides publicly wish my father and brothers a happy one, because I wanted to do this, this weekend. I celebrate fathers who don’t wait to be patted on the back, to stand up to the challenge of what it truly means to be a father, when all the fuss and advertisements pertaining to Fathers’ Day have died. And here we are with “Fathers beyond Fathers’ Day”.
Lots of things are said about dads – good and bad – but most people are never honest enough to acknowledge the very presence of their fathers. Most fathers of those in my generation and those before them weren’t the most affectionate, really, but they brought us up the best way they knew how. Most were merely ATM dads – the kind who pay for whatever you need and barely know you as a child beyond that. The kind who have no idea what your favorite foods are, what kind of songs you like to listen to, who your friends are, etc. All they ever want[ed] to know [w]is whether or not you get/got good grades at school [and related subjects].
You wouldn’t blame them, would you? Their knowing that you were home before curfew was their way of showing their concern for your well-being. Their fussing over your involvement with the “wrong kind of friends” was their way of showing you that it mattered to them that you turned out right in the end.
For most of them, however, it was an obsession to keep track of your performance at school because it made them look good among their peers. You were their pride in that regard; it wasn’t so much about you turning out fine, as it was about showing their fellow fathers how great they were doing at this whole fatherhood stint.
Yes, I said ‘stint’, because that’s how most fathers, even those of my generation, treat fatherhood. What with using their children to earn favours from women – and yes, I’m talking about most single fathers. Such fathers treat their kids as accessories they need to look good to whomever the audience may be at any particular moment.
I hope I’m not the only one sickened by the kind of fathers who strut the earth with their children in the hope of luring some lady with daddy issues, if Baby Daddy has taught us anything. And the women who think men who can change diapers, give babies’ baths, feed and put them to sleep are oh-so sensitive and great; what the heck is wrong with you all? Do men view women who nurture their babies as such? No, sorry. Why? Because that’s what women are created for, right?
As Sigmund Freud put it, “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection” and yet, there are absent fathers; physically, emotionally and sexually abusive ones; those who beat their spouses in the presence of their children or kill the children in front of their mothers to prove a point; those who bring their multiple sexual partners in their homes in front of their spouses and children out of spite; the divorcees who have moved on to have new families and forgotten about their children; those who kidnap and trade other people’s children; those who force their children into early marriages for economical gain, etc. Where’s the love in that? Where’s the protection Sigmund Freud so passionately implores?
What motivates a man to be a good or bad father? In Anne Geddes’ words; “Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” What does that mean? It’s a wise father that knows his child, William Shakespeare said, but how many fathers know their children – really know them?
And does fatherhood only stretch withing biological strings? Would you treat the children to the woman you’re dating or planning to marry as your own, with no reservations whatsoever?
An old friend of mine recently posted something on their Facebook page along the lines of they wouldn’t stomach it if a child who wasn’t their own messed their white-on-white decor. Coming from someone who doesn’t have any child of his own, I asked; “Would it only be your own?” He replied: “Oh heck yeah! Why the heck would someone else’s child mess my white-on-white bachelor apartment!” The single-mom in me only replied with a mere, “I see”, because such people don’t see children from my point of view. To them, kids are merely a menace they wouldn’t tolerate if they weren’t fruits of their loins.
Someone recently told me while being mean; “I hate kids, hey. I can only tolerate my own.” It hit me real hard at that moment, because they were referring to mine, but once the dust settled, I shrugged their comment with a “you know what, he’s a man. He’ll never know what pregnancy and lobour pains are like”, and smiled.
Within the next few days, Phenomenal Magazine will feature phenomenal fathers from different walks of life who inspire. The kind of fathers who would choose their children over work, any day. The kind of fathers whom you wish would be yours, if you grew up without one. The kind of fathers who do not need any pat on the back to step up. The kind of men to whom fatherhood hasn’t a thing on Fathers’ Day or biological ties.
I salute these men. They inspire the father in the single-mom-me. I hope they inspire you too.
These are fathers beyond Fathers’ Day. Are you?
Read on and stay blessed!
P/S: 5 fatherhood quotes to live by:
1. My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me – Jim Valvano.
2. The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother – Unknown.
3. It is much easier to become a father than to be one – Kent Nerburn.
4. A man never stands as tall as when he kneels to help a child – Knights of Pythagoras.
5. I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by the little scraps of wisdom – Umberto Eco.