Well, today is Father’s Day… a day we acknowledge and honor our fathers. It’s a day that both me and Carol have celebrated with our fathers since we were born. However, this year will be Carol’s second year without her father and well, as for me, even longer than that. It was just a given today would be a day we’d tell our dads thank you and that we loved them. And even if they were a bad dad like mine, we still seemed to have that obligation to recognize them. It’s funny how that worked. After all when I was a kid Dad’s had different roles in the family than they do now. At that time they weren’t expected to change diapers, do any cleaning and most of all they were not responsible for raising their own children. SO, as a kid this was my perception of my “dad”… He was a man who lived in our house. He often walked around in his boxer underwear and a t-shirt because, well, that’s what made him comfortable. He was very good at yelling at us kids and telling us everything we were doing wrong. Up until the age of 10 I was scared of him and hated to go anywhere with him. He never played games with us or volunteered to do things we kids liked to do. He was a menacing figure who I was supposed to love and respect, well, because, he was my father. And so, for the longest time I did. But as I became stronger and had a child of my own, I could no longer continue to be the brunt of his explosive behavior. I stopped all contact with him until his death in 2007. That’s not to say I don’t miss him…but to be frank, I always missed him. I wanted the dad next door…the one who was loving, caring and wanted to be with his children. Sadly, no matter how much I dreamed for that dad, mine was never to be capable of it.
Carol’s relationship with her dad was much different. Now, as she is 9 years older than me, her father played even more of the traditional role in her family. He went to work and her mom stayed at home. However, her childhood photos tell a much different story than mine. She has wonderful photos of her dad taking her motorbiking and going on family trips. OK, well, I do know it wasn’t all peaches and cream. Her dad also had a temper and not a lot of patience. He liked to do what he wanted to do and if one of his children had the same interest then they were lucky to be able to share it with their dad. However, there was never a doubt the love Carol’s dad had for his children and wife. He made mistakes like we all do as parents BUT he did so all the while loving his family very much. I got to know him and grew to love him as my own father. That’s not to say we didn’t have our arguments…we both loved a good debate. And we had many. BUT, at the same time, we had some good laughs. Boy did I like his barrel laugh. The best was when we’d bring over our dachshund puppy. Edward loved that dog. He’d put him in his lap. Our puppy would lick his face and Edward would just laugh and laugh. Even to this day that memory makes me smile. It was devastating when Edward died a year in a half ago. It’s weird because since he passed, there does seem to be a piece missing in the family. No doubt he will always be missed.
It’s interesting because just comparing my father to Carol’s father there are vast differences. We both had one but their roles in our lives were not the same. And even though I had one, I always wanted a different one. I wanted the one that lived next door. There was my friend, Anne, who had a father who was always smiling and caring. He even played tennis which I thought that was cool. It’s as we say, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” As a kid we seem to dream up how the “other” would be better. In my case, I’m thinking it probably would have been better BUT I was dealt this lot. This was what I was given. Bashert.
And now on to our son who as y’all know is being raised by two moms. It boggles some people’s mind he can be a normal kid without a father. After all, he needs a man in his life, right? Well, first of all people… we do NOT void our kid of men in his life. On the contrary…our kid has many wonderful men who spend time with him and love him. He has fabulous uncles, cousins, teachers, coaches and men friends who he calls uncle. Judah probably gets more attention from those men than Carol and I ever did from our own dads who lived with us. SO, sorry Charlie’s just because we are two women who love each other does not mean we are anti man. The other question I get asked is what does our son do on Father’s Day. Well, today he woke up late, made himself some coffee and is now watching basketball on the computer. To him Father’s Day is like Christmas and Easter…he doesn’t celebrate them but has many friends who do. AND, just like the Jewish kid who has never celebrated Christmas, it’s just not part of his world to miss any part of it. Let me give an example. Let’s say you were raised celebrating Christmas but converted to Judaism as an adult. You had wonderful memories of your childhood during that holiday. When you have children you long for your kids to have those same memories. You begin to feel bad that they can’t have them because of the choices you made. However, if you look at this example with a more neutral perspective you’ll see that you are only projecting what you long for or miss onto your kids. Because it’s something WE miss, we assume our kids are missing it too. BUT, how can our kids miss something they never experienced or had in their life? Listen, Carol and I often forget Judah’s normal is being raised by two moms. Our normal was being raised by a mom and dad. Two different experiences. And yet we still find ourselves projecting onto Judah which is very unfair. And yet it is bound to happen simply because of how we were each raised. And y’all know what? It’s OK.
Listen, our kid has taught us a lot. Each day is a learning experience for us. Judah seems to know exactly how to settle our many worries. He has often pointed out that our concerns are steeped from experiences that are not relevant to his world. To him it’s like apples and oranges. Both are OK but both cannot be eaten in the same way.
I’ll never forget when Judah was 4 he came home from preschool and announced, “I want a dad.” Mine and Carol’s first instinct was to freak out. Here we are two woman raising a son AND how many people (including family) would tell us how he’s going to miss out. And now here we were being confronted by it from our kid. However, our panic subsided as we thought about his age. FOr goodness sake he’s 4…the very age they can ask where babies come from and when you go to tell them about the birds and bees they cut you off and say, “No, I mean what hospital.”
Listen, when Judah was four he was in the bathroom with Carol. He was on the counter looking in the mirror with his mouth wide open. After a few minutes he asked Carol,”Why do I have a scrotum in the back of my throat?” And so, we knew Judah’s question about wanting a dad was a bit more basic. We asked him why he felt he wanted a dad. He told us that Christopher’s dad would get on the floor and wrestle and he really liked that. Carol and I laughed. We pointed out his other friends and their dads…all of whom don’t get on the floor and wrestle. Judah looked at us. He smiled and said, “Oh, I know.” He pointed to Carol and added, “Mom, you always like to dress up with me to play pretend stuff. I DON’T know ANY of my friend’s MOMS or DADS who do that!”
And so, friends, family and strangers don’t worry about our kid. He’s just fine. He has two big Momma’s who love him with all their heart. If A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G feel bad for him on Mother’s Day…because on that day he has TWO gifts to give!
Hugs to all who celebrate Father’s Day today!