Father’s Day is around the corner and for many, it’s a time of celebration. Celebrating the man who was there the day you were born, celebrating the man who stepped in as a father figure when you didn’t have one, or even celebrating grandpas and great grandpas. Father’s Day is about honoring the men who are important to your life and upbringing.
But for many, myself included, Father’s Day is a sting. It is a harsh reality smacked across your face, reminding you that your dad is not around. He wasn’t around for the training wheels coming off the bike or the ballet recitals or to offer batting tips when you made the little league team. He wasn’t there for prom pictures, wedding dances, or helping you fix the first house you purchased. He wasn’t there to take care of you when you were sick or to offer mom a day off so you and he could share a special day, just the two of you. Every year when Father’s Day rolls around it is a constant burn that doesn’t seem to heal until the next Father’s Day, and then the cycle starts all over again. Trying to avoid the card aisle or the gift displays in stores, growing annoyed at the June date that everyone around you is fixated on, and, the worst in my opinion, scrolling through social media and seeing all of my friends’ pictures of smiling with their dads. Them making memories with a man who helped shape the person you became.
I remember growing up and not having the fancy Hallmark cards that made up for the lack of dads. The ones that are labeled in the category of “To my mother on Father’s Day.” Instead I either made up for it by ignoring the holiday altogether, or I honored the men in my life who were father-like. My uncle who would play “fixer person” with me and my little toolbox, my great grandpa who would save me the beach balls out of the cereal boxes, and, my favorite, the gay couple who were my landlords when I was little. Not only did they teach me acceptance in the LGBTQ community, they also opened my eyes to the world of drag, and taught me how to fish and fix leaky faucets. I didn’t grow up with one dad. I grew up with various dads that came at varying but important times in my life. My mom’s various boyfriends showed me how to (and also how not to) raise and behave towards a child. My senior high school creative writing teacher showed me what it was like to have a male figure at my side and to push me to do my best.
So this Father’s Day if you or someone you know is without a “dad,” I encourage you to remember the male role models in your life. And to thank them. Whether it’s a step-dad, a coach, a neighbor who you see every morning on the way to work, just remember all the things that these men are teaching you in your life that would normally be taught by a dad. Or if you or someone you know if a single mother or grandmother, celebrate her. She is doing the work of two or more parents and she is doing her best to make sure her child is doing their best. To me it is a day to celebrate those who are making a difference in your life and if they happen to be your father, that’s extra reason for celebration.