Yesterday was Father’s Day and it was awesome. The kids and I bought a new suit for King Richard (he hasn’t had a new one in years). He got all dressed up in his snazzy new duds for church and we fed him waffles, hash browns. And Bacon. Of course.
It was relaxed and comfortable and cheerful during our church services. The 10 year olds class all spoke about fathers. One sweet girl whose father hasn’t been part of her life, shared the way that her grandfather and uncle have stepped in and been there for her.
All the dads got Hershey chocolate bars (simple, no fuss no muss) and everywhere I looked I saw smiling, joking dads. These great men who are present in their children’s lives and work daily to provide, preside, and protect their families usually don’t ask for recognition for what they do. They enjoyed that recognition as a perk, but not a requirement. It was wonderful.
What was interesting to me was the contrast to a similar holiday just over a month ago.
On Mother’s Day there is a sense of everyone walking on eggshells. Men prepare anxiously, sure they are going to fail in getting it right. Moms get on Facebook and complain about the failure of their day. At church and even in my family I hear women talk about how much they hate Mother’s Day for a variety of reasons. Here are four common ones:
- “Everyone is talking about how perfect their mother is. Well that’s not me. I’m a horrible mother. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.”
- “All I wanted for Mother’s Day was ___________ and instead all I got was _________.”
- “You’d think my family could act like human beings for one day in the year. Instead I spent Mother’s Day cleaning up bodily fluids and cooking my own dinner.”
- “We shouldn’t talk about being mothers. What about all those women who haven’t had children/don’t want children/have lost children?”
Every one of those statements is valid and I really do get it. I’ve felt many of those things myself over the years. But still, when I see the way the dads in my family, my ward, my community handle Father’s Day I’m reminded that we women can do better.
After all, are we imperfect? Yes! Absolutely. But are we trying our best? That really is what matters. Not just in a pat-you-on-the-back-and-give-you-a-gold-star way, but in a real, ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES way. Doing our best is all Heavenly Father has ever asked of us. He will fill in all our gaps and smooth out our rough spots. Most importantly, He will fill in our children’s gaps that are there because of us. Guilt, when not caused by actual sin, is NOT from our Heavenly Father.
And that ________ you really wanted for Mother’s Day? Is it worth feeling snubbed and bitter over? Is that jewelry/kitchenaid/pair of shoes/bubble bath more important than connecting with your family? I’ve seen women (BEEN the woman) who was so put out about the lack of a gift that I didn’t allow myself to enjoy the entire rest of the day. What a wasted opportunity.
Then the kids, yes those messy, noisy, hungry, fighting kids. Yep, those children are the reason we even have this holiday. The fact that we still get to mother them, maybe even make dinner for them, on Mother’s Day is just a testament to the fact that we are SO blessed to have a family. Every. Single. Day.
Lastly, for those women who aren’t yet mothers. I have experienced infertility and been through that heartbreak. For some of us, we are able to finally (after six years for me) find success. For others, that may never happen. It is a pain that only a select few can really understand. And yet. Even in those times we can remember that even if we aren’t mothers, we HAVE mothers. Even if your mother has passed away or is no longer in your life for other reasons, you have a Heavenly Mother. There is always, always someone looking out for and loving you.
Our Bishop (leader of our congregation) said something that made me really think yesterday.
“‘Father’ is the most honorable title a man can have. Even God, the creator of all, who could be and has been called by many, many titles, chooses to have us call Him Father.”
Isn’t that beautiful?
The reality is that if we got into this whole parenting business to get recognition, feel completely sure of ourselves, or have people buy us presents and leave us alone, we aren’t in the right place. Parenting is loud, noisy, messy, smelly, hard, confusing work. It’s also amazing, rewarding, awe-inspiring, sheer joy. Nothing with a reward like that is going to come easy. I think we should be celebrating the fact that we are on this journey if nothing else.
So, to my husband, King Richard, to my super hero dad, Bill, to my sweet, quiet father-in-law, Lawrence, THANK YOU! You set such an example every day of unobtrusive, constant, vigilant service. You are cheerful and never, ever ask for recognition. You appreciate everything we do for you even though it is tiny compared to what you do for us.
Next Mother’s Day, I plan on taking a page out of your book and just relax and enjoy the ride.
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