Up until 2006, Father’s Day had absolutely no significance to me, as I had no children of my own and I’d never met my father. My mother married my stepfather in 1989 but we pretty much never saw eye-to-eye from day one and so there was no real endeavour on my part to celebrate the day for his benefit. I’m sure I was asked to buy a pair of socks for him by my mother a couple of times, and I’m sure I did a couple of times too. Doing something for your mother on Father’s Day doesn’t really count though does it?
And then came 2006 and Maddoc was born, giving Father’s Day a whole new meaning.
In Sweden, Father’s Day is the second Sunday in November, but I stated from the beginning that I wanted to be celebrated on the English day. This is for two reasons: the first was that I’m English, and it feels like the proper day to celebrate, especially seeing as it wasn’t celebrated in my family before and also due to the fact that my Birthday is 13th November (calendars out people), meaning I would have to have my two special days around the same time (possibly even the same day). That will not do.
An ironic twist today is that my son, Maddoc, has been invited to a Birthday party on my special day. Ironic in that most Birthday parties he attends are on a Saturday and also because the father of the Birthday boy is also English. Maybe he prefers celebrating the Swedish day…
So here I am with Audrey, my daughter, who has repeatedly stated she wants to do her own thing, rather than go out and do things with Daddy. That is fine, she’s only three after all and has not understood the concept of the day. She is merely taking advantage of a rare moment home without her brother, where she can play with the Lego and not be told she’s doing it all wrong…;-)
It’s days like this I’m reminded of the immense responsibility of being a parent, especially a father, in terms of the fact that I never had a father myself and because this is the last Father’s Day I am the father of two. Having never met my own father, I was informed last year that he’d actually died, putting pay to that ever happening. Was I regretful that I’d never tracked him down, that we’d never discussed why he left, why he wasn’t prepared to take the responsibility he helped create? No. I struggle to feel any strong emotions, due to the fact that I never met him, that I only ever saw one photograph of him, that I only heard about him from others.
Blood is thicker than water, is an expression that has never meant anything to me. I believe that family members deserve more chances when they have wronged you but only to a certain extent. Maybe the expression does hold then, just that it is not a given. I have relatives that have said the most hurtful things to me and later acted as though nothing was said. I am a Scorpio and we do hold grudges. I have tried to be more forgiving of others (and myself) over recent years but changing the spots takes time, a whole lot of willpower and the desire.
So today is a day I celebrate the fact that I am a father, that I continue to be an active father to my children, to help them in their lives, as much as I can, as much as they need. It’s a day to reflect on what I have done for them so far, what I’ve done well and where I can improve. I’m helping them through life but they are also helping me, they are making me a better person and for that I am truly grateful.
The son to the father? That’s a role another can play, a role that was denied to me, a role beyond my grasp. We cannot be everything to everyone. Father is a role I’ll happily play. Be. Enjoy.
Maddoc and I decided today that he will call me ‘Dad’. Audrey will continue to call me ‘Daddy’. Until the end of July they are the only ones that can call me this. This is one of the reasons why I don’t want them to call me Mark. That is a name for others, not them, it’s not because it’s a sign of respect, some old conservative view, it’s that it’s their priviledge.
Happy Father’s Day to those fathers celebrating today.