Today, for Father’s Day, I’d like to thank fathers. Let me be clear here: I’m not talking about the accident of biology kind of father here. Lots of people can help make babies, but it takes a special man to be a real father.
I’d like to thank the fathers who go beyond the occasional babysitting, playing catch on Sundays, and cleaning guns in front of their daughters’ boyfriends that the patriarchy prescribes to men. Single dads, of course– single parenthood is perhaps the hardest job in the world, what with having to balance a job and chores and raising children, which is difficult enough with a partner, much less without one. Fathers who are primary caregivers of their children, too– who balanced work and having most of the responsibility for kids, who went to work sick because they used up all their sick days dealing with kids, who gave up success to deal with their children. Every father who woke up in the middle of the night with a crying baby, who helped a child with their homework in between somehow trying to cook a nutritionally balanced meal the picky eaters would eat, who dealt with twenty teenagers at a birthday party. Thank you. Your sacrifice matters more to us than you know.
But I also thank the fathers who couldn’t do any of that. The fathers who missed their children’s first word or step because they were working to provide the kids with a good life. The fathers who worked jobs they hated to put food on the table and clothes on the kids’ backs, or who sacrificed their health or even their lives to provide money that their families needed. The provider is important, too, and I think a lot of people forget that. Your sacrifice matters more to us than you know, too.
I thank the dads who woke up in the middle of the night or the middle of the day to that phone call that no parent wants to receive. I thank the fathers who buried their children.
I thank the dads who don’t have physical custody of their kids. It can be very hard to only have alternate weekends with the children you love– even if you agreed to the custody arrangement, much less if you didn’t. I thank them for being the best dads they could be in the time they had.
Not all fathers go by the name of “father.” For many people, the person who took the role of father in their life was a stepfather, a brother, an uncle, a grandfather, a family friend. I thank you too. If you’re a man, and you raised a kid, I say you’re a father, and I thank you– regardless of what it says on the birth certificate.
And I thank all the men whose experience of fatherhood was one I didn’t describe. Without your help, your caring, your teaching, your work, your discipline, and your love, we would never have grown up to be the awesome people that most of us are. From the bottom of my heart: thank you.