Okay, fellow dads out there, let’s just admit something straightaway – the kids are not making you breakfast today. In fact, if you are like I am, you are making the kids breakfast while mom has her usual “sleepy Sunday.” Sure, we understand Mommy had a hard week, and it is nice to get to spend time with the kids since you don’t get to do so on school days – even if it entails standing over the stove flipping flapjacks, scrambling eggs, and cooking up some bacon.
Usually on what we call in this house “Mother’s Day Eve,” I am making certain the kids have prepared their homemade cards (Mommy prefers those) and have gifts purchased for them to give Mom in the morning. If they have created something in school (this year my son made a small flower pot and planted seeds for a flower), this is also put aside. My card is already written and my gift is wrapped.
In the morning, I will run out really early to get flowers because fresh ones are always best and stop at Starbucks to get Mommy her favorite java. When I get home, I will get the kids up, tell them to be quiet, and let Mommy have her “sleepy Sunday.” When Mommy awakes, breakfast will be made and presented to her in bed (if she desires that) or in the breakfast nook, where presents will then be laden upon her Highness. Yes, she is Queen that morning and we her subjects bow accordingly. Oh, come to think of it, she’s royalty every other day as well, but I am okay with that too.
I have always told myself that this is just the way of things. I recall as a kid that Mother’s Day was all marching bands and fireworks, while Father’s Day was more a few sparklers and a whistle. My Dad never seemed to mind, and he appreciated getting the new tie and the shaving cream and the screwdriver with changeable tips. Dad always smiled and took it like a champ, so why wouldn’t I follow his lead when I became a father? Well, of course, I did.
Today I am not expecting much, and that in itself makes things go better. Every year a week before Father’s Day I will get, “Do you need anything at Home Depot?” as Queenie is walking out the door. I could, if given the time, probably make a long list, but I might blurt out, “No, I’m good” because I don’t want to have to return anything and that is usually what happens when I get something from Home Depot, if I’m lucky enough to get a gift receipt.
Oh, and there is no such thing as Father’s Day Eve here. No preparations were underfoot last night. I am certain I will just get homemade cards from the kids (which I love and will keep forever), but I don’t get gifts. I am not certain if Her Majesty got me anything (last year I got a Mets cap which was fine), but I figure keeping my expectations low is best.
The kids did ask me a few days ago what I wanted, and I should have said, “To sleep late, have brunch made for me, and then be able to watch the Mets game and switch channels to check out the U.S. Open.” Of course, none of that is going to happen. My son thinks it is a day when we should go to the park and play catch and for me to pitch to him so that he can hit baseballs and have me run all around the field fetching them. But, hey, I did that with my Dad as a kid so I guess this is my payback.
If you think I am exaggerating the situation here, let’s look at some numbers. According to an article on Today.com, Americans will spend $7.4 billion less on Father’s Day than they did on Mother’s Day. Mostly, Dad gets a card – 61% of consumers will buy the old guy one; however, 81% get Mom a card. I would guess that the other 19% accounts for kids making them for Mommy. I am not sure if 39% are making them for Dad, but you never know.
While we would like to think this is not a contest, a national survey reveals that if it were Dad would lose handily – kind of like Wonder Woman vs. Batman – and the numbers are gruesome. 78% of the respondents indicated that they would choose celebrating with Mom over Dad if the holidays fell on the same day. While citing many reasons, the most glaring one is “Mom is the favorite parent.” That, fellow dads, is the coup de grace. Ouch!
Of course, we dads are complicit in all this because of a most salient reason – we not only accept this as the way it is but we encourage it. We were all kids once too, and at least I know for sure that I pampered Mom and showered her with attention and love and gifts because I wanted to do that. I think it was less that I felt she needed it but more that I needed to do it. My father never seemed to mind and, come to think of it, I got this way of thinking by observing him with his mother.
The truth is that I was in the room when my wife gave birth to my kids. Any dad who has witnessed this miracle one or more times can attest to the fact that he would never be able to handle it. Just giving my wife ice chips while she lay there in labor made me shiver. I saw the almost incalculable pain that she endured, and the amazing thing is even after giving birth to our first child she wanted to go through the ordeal again, while I would have been running out the door.
The pain of childbirth alone gives Mom the right to be celebrated and be the royalty in the house, but that is not the only reason. As I saw growing up and now as a married man, it is the Mom who keeps a household together; she manages to be the loving glue that binds all, and through her dedication, strength, tenacity, and love a house becomes a home.
When I am with the kids and my wife is not home, well something tangible is missing. We are still a family, but we are like a boat with a hole in it. When she comes home, it is as if all the water gets bailed out immediately and smooth seas are ahead. That is just the way it is and I appreciate that.
So today is not going to be a big celebration but a quiet one. As I was writing this, my son already came into my office and gave me his card. He told me the teacher had to help him with the front, but I understand that. I love the card anyway, and I too think the homemade ones are the best.
But I must end now because he is up and hungry. The others will be up and hungry too soon enough. I have to go make breakfast, but I’m okay with that. It’s Father’s Day and I am going to perform my usual Sunday routine as if it were any other Sunday.
Come to think of it, that is a happy Father’s Day. No contest there at all.