Bargell: Dads these days
I think fathers sometimes get the short end of the stick. Although I’m all ears, when looking into the topic, I found that poems and quotes about Dad often deal with their wallets – “a father carries pictures where his money used to be,” or, better still, turn things right around to focus on Mom, such as my personal favorite: “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” Why, a holiday honoring dads was not even made official until 1972, nearly 60 years after the day for moms was officially recognized. Curious whether dads these days are given their due, I recently typed into the computer “statistics on father’s stress” seeking cyberspace enlightenment on dads’ collective state of being. Google did not hesitate a nanosecond in its response, asking me – “Did you mean statistics on mother’s stress?” Are you kidding? I typed back. No help there, apparently even the cyberspace gods are reluctant to recognize what dads are required to shoulder these days.
Of course, we can speculate this is so because dads traditionally are the breadwinners, and moms take care of – well – everything else. We moms know this generally is not the case. Single or married, much is required of dads of the 21st century. A friend of mine recently did a stint as a single father, filling the role of both Mom and Dad better than I typically do at being a mom most days. He made a habit of inducing giggling fits – keeping life light when it might otherwise be sad. And, he’s far more pragmatic about girl drama than any mom I know. As a result, his girls are kind and seem to have avoided the back-biting bug that mysteriously infects young girls’ ranks. Or, more recently, I was amazed when I noticed tears streaming down one father’s cheeks as he silently watched his daughter compete in a gymnastics meet. When I asked what was wrong he replied without hesitation, “nothing – she’s just so beautiful.” His daughter truly was lovely, but far more lovely to me was the fact her dad cried (in front of lots of folks no less) because he loved his daughter so. And there’s that dad who labors annually in the kitchen to create the perfect, made-to-order birthday cake for each of his daughters while their mother (me) looks helplessly over his shoulder, offering nothing more than a bit of encouragement.
I have to admit I enjoy wonderful poems and sayings that pay tribute to the hard work and virtues of motherhood. I do wonder sometimes what dads think about all this. When it comes to Father’s Day, most of us grown-ups think about our fathers, and the influences they have had on our lives, good and bad – that’s inevitable. (If you missed Biff’s column last Sunday, it’s certainly worth a read in this regard.) But, what about all those dads out there who are working hard – and these days often really hard – to stay in the game?
It’s high time, don’t you think, that we honor dads with something more than barbecue tools and argyle socks – useful though they are. So, here goes – to our favorite man about the house, carpenter, plumber (a collective eeewww, here), painter, landscaper, furniture maker and jack-of-all trades, chef (who cooks up more than just the dough), gardener, driver, protector, provider, mechanic, scout leader, man of wise words, coach and sports fan, great teacher of things that matter – and guide to figuring out those that just don’t, math whiz, music mentor and so much more. A week late (see – it even happens here), but with great admiration – hats off to all you dads these days who daily tell your kids how much you love them, and consider being a dad the very best job(s) around.
Cindy Bargell lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She is a card-carrying PTSA member, real estate and natural resources lawyer and part-time gymnastics coach. She welcomes your comments at email@example.com.
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