This Father’s Day, I’m thinking about TV dads. These wonderful, perfect men who are the hero for their children. Jack from This Is Us springs to mind alongside Randall. They are perfect men, to their kids, though utterly imperfect in reality.
And I mean, fathers kind of get to be perfect in ways mothers never get to. Mothers are the bad guys. They get a bad rep as the law-enforcers and sensible ones. No kid wants that. But of course, every kid needs it. Mothers make us feel safe behind the scenes. People put the red cape on dad but mom is the one laying the foundations for you learn the things you need to be safe in this world, no matter what is thrown your way.
Of course, I’m projecting and generalising here. I grew up without a dad. He died when I was 7; mom and dad got divorced when I was about 4. So, I never really knew him. Over the years, I’ve uncovered more pieces of who he was. He was not a hero. He was not a perfect man.
I can’t know what my life would look like today if he were here. Who would I be? Would I be better off or worse? The point is, the simple fact is, we were both robbed of the chance to know the answer.
I’m not alone in this. Whether it’s a father or mother or whoever, we all have lost someone. Whatever the circumstances of that loss or the relationship, it leaves you with a void and a limitless list of questions.
Could my dad have ever become a TV dad? Given the chance, could he have turned his life around and become something heroic and inspiring? Because we can’t judge a person’s past or subscribe them to a certain future because of it. No matter his flaws (there were many) or mistakes, could he have rectified it? Would I have allowed him to do so?
My brother is a dad now. It’s strange. I usually don’t remember Father’s Day, if I’m honest. Yes, I am so lucky to have an AMAZING grandfather and “father figure” in him, whatever that really means. But Father’s Day didn’t mean much because Mother’s Day is everything. Every day is Mother’s Day. Every day is a day I should celebrate and be grateful for the woman who brought me into this world and has never asked me to be someone I’m not, like other people have countless times.
I’m so proud to have a new idea of Father’s Day. A day to celebrate my brother who is doing fantastically. He’s scared and unsure, like all new parents, but damn is he loving and present and giving and supportive and that’s what counts (no matter your gender).
So, did I grow up feeling a loss? Yes and no. Yes, a loss of a person. I knew there could have been a “dad person” there who wasn’t. I couldn’t relate to friends moaning about theirs. In fact, it annoyed me. I’d cry seeing TV dads being so wonderful, wondering if mine could have been the same. But no, I never wanted for anything.
What do dads do that moms don’t/can’t?
Throw a ball around with me? Check.
Teach me how to change a tire? Check.
Engulf me in protective arms as I sob in emotional pain? Check, check, check…
I’m sorry if this was rambly, but I suddenly felt a wave of emotion and I write when I feel! Happy Father’s Day to the dads out there doing their thing, being imperfect but heroic anyway. Happy Father’s Day to single mothers. And Happy Father’s Day to anyone suffering a loss today. I feel the pain those questions leave behind and I hope you know that I believe your father loves you and is proud of you no matter what. Because life is hard, but you’re living it, and that’s pretty badass.