Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day To Me: Thanks, Ladies!

Father's Day is complex this year. My father passed on decades ago, and with the passage of time his sacrifices become more clear. Thank you. Among my friends and family there are many fathers- to you all, congratulations, your children are remarkable! I am happy to be their uncle and I thank you for making it possible.
And then there's this: my housemates (in the mother-in-law apartment) are the daughter of my first ex-wife and her own wife. What to call our relationship?
I resisted adopting a fatherly role, because the way my father modeled was to be in charge all the time: to make the decisions, to issue orders, to expect followership, and to be unhappy if a child disagreed. Neither he nor I understood any other way to be a father, and I knew d@mn well this would not work with these two fully adult and capable young women. Instead, we went with "Big brother". 
Elder brother is a fun role. We would meet in the kitchen to share joy in success, pride in achievement, concern over problems, and joint solutions to getting through this thing called life, whatever that may be. In the nature of things, I'm almost 40 years older so, although not inherently wiser, I have had so many more experiences that usually I can usually come up with a solution or at least cryptic advice. I can also pass on to them some of the material help I had gotten from past father figures who had supported me in ways I'm only now understanding (lookin' at you, John Cole!) I appreciate that this is not the same as walking a colicky baby at 3AM. Most parents have done much more than I (I don't deny that), and yet I should not minimize that my support has been helpful.
And today: I must report that the ladies have thanked me for being a dad figure to them. 
What a surprise! What a joy! My heart melts with gladness just thinking of it. It is an entirely new class of happiness that I had not expected. They are wonderful young people who have always justified my faith in them, and this is a reward beyond rewards!
What is fatherhood? Beyond the simple and meaningless bio-definition, it seems to have something to do with loving and with responsibility and with not being a jerk. The details beyond that we have have to work out on an ad hoc basis, because each person in an individual with their own peculiarities. In our case, the fatherhood/daughtershood thing is peculiar cubed. And we like it that way!
So on this Father's Day let me thank you, young ladies, for the chance to be a father figure for you makes me happy and proud!

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