I became a father when I caught my first sight of Emily, the pioneer kid in the Harry quartet. I won’t pretend to try to describe that feeling. Her arrival in my life changed the way the stars looked.
And, boy, did she make me smile. Still does.
Then came Katie. Maggie. Jonah. Magnificent creations all, and all grew in love and chaos, teaching me that the heart, an amazing metaphorical muscle expands and expands and expands.
But the world, well…
I lost my father when I was young. I lost my daughter, Maggie, when she was young. So Father’s Day, it’s a roller coaster for me.
Because the brain, a stubborn mound of stuff, can hang on tighter to the times you think you failed as a father. “What about me?” say the successful moments, raising their hands to get a bit of attention. But when they get called on and try to speak, the failures rudely talk over them. Loud and relentless.
I’m sure I’m not the only father who, every day, tries to come to terms with the life he’s led and the lives he had a part in launching. And every year, here comes Father’s Day–a day devoted to those of us who stumble, walk into walls, and accept an honor we often feel we don’t deserve. We lose sleep, find truth, dance, cry, and see the universe swirling in the hair at the top of tiny heads. Father’s Day underlines, boldfaces, and italicizes our feelings about what we’ve done, what we haven’t done, and what we could have done a helluva lot better.
Having a father around to say “you’re doing okay” would have been nice. If you’ve got a kid who is also a parent, consider doing that some point soon if you haven’t recently.
The greatest honor of my life has been being called Dad. And the greatest challenge has been trying to deserve it.