When I was a kid and Father’s Day rolled around each year, the only person I made rubber-cement-and-glitter cards for and gave “WORLD’S GREATEST DAD” mugs to was my own dad. My grandfathers were dads, of course (the word father being in grandfather is helpful; thank God for college), but they were my parents’ dads, so I didn’t really give it much thought. And although my mom always made certain that my father received gifts from my brother and me (likely with input from us; lots of ties, if I’m remembering correctly – sorry, Dad), I still viewed him as my dad — or my brother’s and my dad — and not really as a person connected to anyone else.
It never occurred to me that, in addition to thinking of her own father on Father’s Day, my mom might also be thinking of the man who was the father of her children.
Until Nick and I had kids of our own.
Suddenly, Father’s Day became a time to not only remember my father (although I’ve moved beyond ties), but a time to celebrate Nick (and by “celebrate” I mean, at the very least, that he doesn’t have to feed the dogs in the morning; I’ve always been generous). And I find that pretty damn cool, in a whole circle-y, past, present, and future way (don’t worry, I’m not getting all new-agey or anything. It’s just kind of neat is all).
My dad and Nick really couldn’t be more different, and it’s truly a great testament to both of them that, despite these differences — in personality, in political beliefs, in likes and dislikes — they get along so well. And it’s also a testament to my dad, to both of my parents, that they clearly encouraged me (and my brother) to search for partners in life who best-suited us and made us happy, rather than fitting some kind of pre-determined mold that they created for us.
And yet… There are similarities. My dad and Nick both make me laugh. They make me smile. They make me shake my head at their ridiculousness. They make me think, often when I don’t want to (which, I’ll reluctantly admit, can really be the most important time to think). They support me (or at least don’t disown me) through all of my crazy decisions. They make me feel lucky that I have them in my lives, and they make me incredibly grateful that Ella, Annie, and I get to have them as our fathers (even when they make us sigh and roll our eyes). Perhaps most of all, they love us, their daughters, unconditionally and wholly.
Happy Father’s Day to two of the best fathers I know, and certainly to the two I love the most.
I would be highly remiss today in not mentioning my superb father-in-law, who also makes me do all of the things above, especially laugh. And think. He’s much more than just a father-in-law to me – he’s Bill – and is one of the three best dads I know. And certainly the third I love the most.