It doesn’t happen all at once, like finding the train set Santa was supposed to bring at the back of your parents’ closet, suddenly realizing the rumors you heard from the older kids were true. It’s more of a gradual process like understanding that your dad isn’t the strongest man on the block, Superman really can’t fly and it’s okay for a fully grown guy to cry.
Morphing into a man can be tough enough but becoming a father can be downright confusing; kids don’t come with a manual, and even if they did, the instructions would be constantly changing. That has never been truer than today, as family roles are revised and the definition of family itself, even marriage, is being rewritten.
Back when I was a strapping, rebellious youth there were two types of male figures a kid might find in his life … he usually had either a father or a dad. It was a short menu. A father was a more formal figure who cast his seed in the night, then sort of came and went between home, work and wherever else father-types spend their time. A dad was the guy who actually stuck around enough to help raise the little darling. He saw to the child’s needs, was there to wipe tears, patch up skinned knees and dispense his own brand of worldly wisdom.
Enter male sensitivity and political correctness to help turn confusion into chaos. We now have subdivisions of fathers and dads, the most bewildering of which to me is “Mr. Mom”. This is the liberated ‘hero’ likely to say things like, “WE’RE pregnant!” In some instances the actual mom, who for nine merciless months never sang a single chorus of “I Enjoy Being A Girl,” now goes off to put pork on the fork while Mr. Mom stays home to nurture their progeny. Only a few years ago it was shameful if a wife had to work at all. There is even a movement in some circles to grant the male of the species maternity leave, so he can spend several weeks home from work saying things like, “Honey, Honey the baby’s crying!”
For my money it’s further proof of the eternal truth … the only constant in life we can count on is change. Being a parent is no easy task and fathers, by any name, will always have a full plate. The day I became a dad was the proudest of my life and that pride continues through the years without limit. Just remember, regardless of how we mature men of maternity define our role within the family, old fashioned or new fangled, the most important thing is that we be there.
HAPPY FATHERS’ DAY!