It’s good being a mom.
We get to be all weepy at graduations and weddings. Cuddling is permitted, even with adult daughters; and sons turn into tigers not to fight with us, but for us. We get immortalized in myth, legend and the sentimental heart of mankind. Yes. It’s good being a mom.
You know what, though? We’re only half the parenthood story.
Dads are just as needed, and I’m afraid, often half as appreciated. They don’t get the glamour or the glory, even though they love as deeply, truly and tenaciously as mothers do; only they do it from behind the scenes, in a quiet, nearly invisible way that makes them equally heroic.
While some men deadbeat out on their families, there are plenty who are the only parent available to their kids. Single parenting is never a picnic, and yet, I’ve seen heartbroken dads make it look that way. I’ve also come across men raising their children’s children, having to work on while their friends are all retiring.
I’ve been blessed to have witnessed some truly great dads in action. I’ve seen these men love, nurture, worry about and sacrifice for their children without boast or complaint. In life and in memory they pass on wisdom by example and offer stability in an unstable world. They’ve taught the tough lessons that need to be taught, but have also been there to catch the stumbler and soften the inevitable falls. Some of these good men are gone; some continue to feel their way through their grandest job.
It isn’t easy being a good dad or granddad, especially with all the spotlights usually turned on their maternal counterparts and traditional perceptions of what is acceptable “manly” behavior. I recall conversations with my father in which he confessed to holding back on hugs and other PDAs because it wasn’t what fathers do. Yet there were no broader shoulders or stronger arms in my young life than his, and he had more than one flannel shirt soaked through with my tears in the days when he was my chief counselor and comforter. In return, he shared confidences with me that I’m not sure even my mother was privy to.
My father-in-law was a true gentleman, a patient perfectionist and a quiet romantic who welcomed the news of my engagement to his son with the simple mandate to call him “Dad.” From that day forward, he never failed to treat me as his daughter.
For nearly three decades I’ve watched my father-in-law’s son perform his own unique magic with our children. If I’m our family’s heart, he is its head, and, if truth be told, possibly its soul. He is the calm in the storm and the beacon that helps keep the rest of us from losing our way in the dark. I don’t think he knows it, and I’m certain he’d never admit it if he does. He’s that kind of a dad, that sort of man.
The fathers I’ve been fortunate enough to know are far from the slightly clownish, if lovable, TV dads generations of us have grown up with. They’re real men in a real world that can be overwhelming to kids and young adults facing it for the first time. I’m grateful the real dads are not the ineffectual men of fiction. Instead, they’re flawed, earnest, caring people who love us, guide us, and believe in us to the very end.
Woodsboro resident Susan Writer wishes all the dads, granddads, and like-a-dads out there a happy Father’s Day. Contact her at email@example.com, or see what else she has to say at her UExpress.com’s Ask Someone Else’s Mom column.