fathers

On fathers: when one day holds so many big emotions

It occurred to me this morning while walking the dog, this is our twentieth father’s day. It’s hard to imagine this is true. Granted, we celebrated for the future that long-ago, first fathers day. Our oldest was a bump of possibility, only beginning to make herself known. But we celebrated, dreaming of a lifetime of fathers days to come.

I feel a tinge of sorrow today as well. I had only twenty-five fathers days with my own father, nearly as many have passed as were observed. ┬áIt’s funny to me, looking back over celebrations with our children, twenty years seems a lifetime, and remembering how many I have missed, it seems far too few. Time is such an elastic and untrustworthy construct.

My husband had only four fathers days with his father. He isn’t here for me to ask, but I imagine he has no memory of them. And yet, when it comes to fathering, I can’t imagine anyone who loves with more care and consideration than he does. His love in action is beautiful. Even now, it brings tears to my eyes. In my life I have received two great gifts, one of experiencing a wonderful father, and one of watching a man become a wonderful father.

Whenever we, as a culture, celebrate these identity specific holidays, it seems we enter into a minefield. Fatherhood isn’t always beautiful or empowering. For some it’s an empty space, or filled with difficult, painful memories, for others it’s grieving someone lost. There’s room for all of these feelings, from great joy to deep pain. There isn’t one way to feel about fathers, just as there isn’t one fathering template to follow.

For me, today, I’m making room for great, big emotions, the swell of love and pride for the father who shapes our lives, the ache and emptiness for the one who gently shaped mine. There is room, room for both. One does not negate the other. The joy isn’t better or more important than the grief. Both are valid and together they make the day more beautiful still.

Maybe you have complicated feelings this father’s day. It’s OK. If you are looking for permission to feel however you feel, here it is. Feel your joy, your gratitude, your grief, your pain, your loss, your pride, your heart. Celebrate what is worth celebrating, for there is so much to praise in this world. Mourn what is worth mourning for there is so much pain in this world. Be generous with your love, for your fathers, for your children, for each other.

It’s an amazing thing to be alive, and I am so very grateful for my experience in this world, the beautiful and the sorrowful as well.

2 thoughts on “On fathers: when one day holds so many big emotions”

  1. Thank you for these words this morning! This morning my first thoughts were of gratitude for the amazing father that loves and leads our family. Then my thoughts turned to thinking I need to call or text my brother, brother-in-law and father-in-law a ‘Happy Fathers’ Day’. Then I stopped short as I remembered that for over 20 years I haven’t been able to wish my own dad a Happy Fathers Day. It is an ache and emptiness that feels huge at times like today. But I am blessed with the today- The today of watching my own man being the kind of dad I treasured. So today for me to is one to feel grief that is mine but it doesn’t overshadow or diminish the overflowing love and gratitude for the man that fathers my kids today. It is a day of teaching my kids to be grateful for their earthly and heavenly daddies.. It is a day of my mixed emotions that somehow can co-exist. Thanks again for your words each day!

    1. I think one of the most amazing thing about the human heart is how it can hold so many emotions all at once. And none of them take away from the others. I can feel the same depth of sorrow as I do height of joy at the same time.

      I’m sorry you are missing your Dad on Father’s Day too. But I am sure that like me, you never want to stop missing him or remembering him. We are very lucky to have fathers worthy of a long grieving.

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