Times have changed for world’s dads
Sunday is Father’s Day. Again.
Did you know that Father’s Day was not an official American holiday until 1972? Mother’s Day got that designation in 1914.
There had been a movement to celebrate fathers led by tie and pipe manufacturers around the time Mother’s Day was made official, but it met with a negative reaction for obvious reasons.
If you were to ask a father if it bothered him, he would probably just shrug his shoulders and go back to flipping hamburgers on the grill. We know not to make a big deal about it. I know — after witnessing the births of both my children — who did all the heavy lifting when it came to the child-birthing process. In fact, I used to chuckle when people would congratulate me — the father — for becoming a parent. My part in the whole process was a lot more enjoyable than my wife’s; something I think most mothers resent, for good reason.
So us fathers try not to make a big deal out of Father’s Day.
And although our attitudes toward Father’s Day remain unchanged, today’s modern dad does things a bit different. Notice I said different, not better. It’s just that times are different; what with divorce, women in the workplace and a bunch of other factors, fathers are required to take a more active role in child rearing.
The differences between my father’s generation and mine, and how we approach fatherhood are vast. And those differences start at birth. For instance, my father was discouraged from being in the delivery room to witness my birth. After seeing my two children’s births, I would have been happy if someone would have told me that I’d have to wait in the “father’s lounge” while the births were occurring, but my presence was required. Don’t misunderstand — I don’t regret being there. It’s just that nothing prepared me for what I witnessed; movies in high school health class just didn’t capture the whole vivid experience.
Then it came time to bring the kids home, and with that came late-night feedings, diaper changes and, in the case of my oldest, colic.
My father had three children, and we’ve never talked about how many diapers he changed or late nights he spent up with a sick kid. But I’m pretty confident in saying that I’ve changed more diapers and spent more nights comforting a kid than he has.
I’m not bitter about that; if anything, I’m a little jealous. Times were different 47 years ago, that’s all.
When I was born, there was no discussion about whether my mother would stay home with me or go back to work — not only was she already at home with two other children, but she was a mom and that’s what you did.
Now, my wife’s career is as necessary to our household as mine. There are certain jobs around the house that I have to do, just as there are things she does. When it comes to parenting, though, we are both have to be fully invested. I will just as likely watch over a sick child as she, I know the kids’ teachers and communicate with them frequently. And although our boys have outgrown any interest in youth soccer, I know there are just as many mom coaches as there are dad coaches.
So our role as “father” has changed, but the status of Father’s Day has remained about the same, which falls somewhere ahead of Columbus Day and Flag Day, but behind Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July.
That’s OK, though. We really are happy to spend our Father’s Day grilling burgers, because we are the only ones who know how to do it just right.
Contact Rory McClannahan at 823-7102 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.