Doesn’t it seem like Father’s Day kind of gets the short end of the stick? I mean, just a month ago, on Mother’s Day, people were falling all over themselves to take Mom out for a nice brunch or a fancy dinner, or at the very least, to present her with some grocery store flowers and a card.
But Dad? If he’s lucky, someone will treat him to a steak – that he’s then expected to grill himself.
I think, as he looks back on our growing-up years, my father doesn’t give himself enough credit. He sees a younger generation of dads who seem to have all the time in the world for their kids – they go to concerts and recitals in the evenings and ball games on the weekends. They’re able to take time from work for parent-teacher conferences and doctors’ appointments.
My father wasn’t able to do any of that.
I think it’s easy, from the plush comfort of the seat of a two-income, upper-middle-class SUV, to think, well, he chose not to do those things. It was his decision to work those long hours instead of being present for this children.
But I remember.
I remember him trying to run his own business – Don’s Quality Texaco – when my sister and I were small – and all the work and all the time that entailed. But I also remember the downtime when my father would play with us in his auto shop, dropping us into the middle of stacks of tires or giving us rides on the car lift.
And I remember his closing that business and working two jobs to, I assume, try to dig himself out of the giant financial hole he found himself in.
I remember, when my mother was involved in a debilitating car accident, my father trying to hold together the household and take care of her, while trying to keep the mortgage paid and food on the table for us kids.
I remember him leaving the house in the wee hours of the morning to work his second job, coming home several hours later, getting dressed for work, and turning around and going back out to put in a 10-hour (or more) day at his “real” job. Plus commute time.
Then he’d come home and fall asleep at the dining room table.
Yeah, this is not a guy who “chose” to “neglect” his family. This was a responsible parent.
It’s hard knowing that the only money coming in to pay for everything is coming from you alone. And that money comes in exchange for your time.
Your time makes sure the mortgage is paid, and that the kids have sports and band and school supplies, not to mention clothes and shoes and food in their bellies and light by which to read. And sometimes, you sacrifice the things you want – the games, the concerts, the helping with homework, a full night’s sleep – because you’re looking at the big picture.
At worst, my father sacrificed himself in order that my mother could stay home to be a mom. In reality, he provided so much more than he realizes.
He was a father who, although he wasn’t home as much as he may have liked to have been, he was always present. We always knew he’d be home. It might be late, and he’d be tired, but he’d be there.
He always presented a united front with my mother – they were a team. I would imagine they had disagreements, but we seldom, if ever, saw or heard them.
Although far from perfect, my father taught me to make hard choices. He was and is a godly man who lives what he believes, and he follows his conscience, whatever the personal cost to himself.
I don’t think he did such a bad job at all.