I've been ignoring Father's Day for many years now, even though I had 2 fathers. One was my dad, whom my mom married when I was 2. The other is my biological father, my sperm donor, the one who didn't show up for their wedding 2 1/2 years earlier. My maternal grandparents -- my grandfather was a doctor -- offered her as a consolation prize an abortion. My mom didn't accept the gift.
The man who showed up for the wedding is the man I called Dad. He died suddenly when I was 24 and he was 46. We had a difficult relationship, although I believe he loved me and I know I loved him. But let's just say I was never his favorite. Red-headed bastard stepchildren rarely are.
It's been hard to ignore Father's Day this year though because of my Facebook addiction. My newsfeed has been filled with people posting photos of their dads. And with dads posting how much they love their kids, how precious they are. Hard to ignore.
I admit it: I'm jealous. I can almost imagine what it might feel like to be cherished by a father. I can't know for sure, but I think it would be pretty great. It's something I'll never really feel though. Not ever.
So, since I can't seem to ignore Father's Day this year, I have a few things to say to you dads with daughters.
If you're a dad who tells your daughter you're proud of her, good on ya. Don't do it so often it loses its meaning, but never stop. I would have given up all the Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill I drank during my high school years if I could have heard those words come out of my dad's mouth. Yes, he came to as many of my basketball games as he could, and he never yelled at me about the mistakes I made on the court. But I never heard those words: "I'm proud of you" .... and I never will. Please keep saying it.
And if you're a dad whose daughter knows you would fight a bear for her, keep it up. You don't weaken your daughter by sharing your strength with her. She may not ever need you to fight a bear, but knowing you will be there to protect her if someone hurts her will give her courage too.
If you're a dad whose daughter knows she can hate you and you will still love her .... just keep loving her. She needs to know she can get angry and you'll still be there. She needs to know she can get angry and you won't knock her down by getting angrier and squashing her too.
If you're a dad who tells your daughter she's beautiful and smart and strong and precious, please keep telling her. Even if she rolls her eyes and says, "Oh, Daaadddd." If the first man in her life adores her, then maybe that's the least she will expect from those who come after. And every little girl deserves to feel utterly precious and adored .... even though some of us never do.
Finally, here's an idea. Make sure you take at least one photo of yourself with your daughter that shows how much you love her so she has something to post on her Facebook wall on Father's Day. And so she has a reminder of how much you valued her. I don't have a single photo of myself with my dad, other than a couple of all-the-family snapshots in front of the Christmas tree. None of just him and me. I wish I did.
|(Shutterstock © Dubova)|
I don't mean to sound whiny. I put all that daddy stuff behind me years ago. But I see dads who do those things and daughters who remember their dads doing those things, and I think -- just for tonight -- I think how different my life might have been. How different my relationships with men might have been. So I just want to remind you dads out there how terribly important you are to your daughters (and your sons too, of course). You matter. And it doesn't really take much to leave a legacy that you'd be proud to see posted on Facebook in 30 years.
Father's Day. Eh. I'll go back to ignoring it next year.