Back from Boston. Gotten some rest. Feeling more like myself. But not ready for deep thoughts, and yr (justifiably) humble svt found some topics on the web today worth pursuing in depth. But not today.
Sunday, 15-June-2008, is Fathers’ Day, an even more contrived observance than is Mothers’ Day. Pursuing the Left-Handed Complement archives, it seems that I let the day go by without note last year. Not a big deal.
My father, and my father-in-law, both good men and great role models, are deceased. My children, who I hope rate me similarly (but that’s for them to evaluate, and the jury is still out!), are mostly unavailable this weekend. Received a gift from the L.A. branch of the family, lovely framed pictures of our seven-year-old grandson and five-year-old granddaughter; definitely made my day.
My older son and his wife (and our local grand-dog) left early this morning for an out-of-state visit to his wife’s parents, to celebrate Fathers’ Day there. Can’t fault that; my kids haven’t seen those really good people since their wedding last July.
My youngest, the artist and vampire, leads a life that is 180° offset from his parents. He works, or performs, until the wee hours of the morning (home by 6am), so we see him rarely.
So, this weekend, a Father’s Day without fathers (permanent condition), and without children (in person — we have hopes for a Skype video call later today with the grandchildren).
When we married all those years ago (38 on 05-July-2008, tyvm), and when we decided to have our children, no one warned us, or even tried to educate us, about the lifetime commitment that is parenthood. Our parents seemed to get through it easily enough — how hard could it be?
And we were on the cusp of a generational change. Like our parents, we married young, and started our family young. One of my siblings just had his first grandchild this year (to be fair, I’m five years older); the other two have adult (in the over-21 sense of the term) children, but are not likely to become grandparents anytime soon.
Our children who are parents became so in their late 20s, as opposed to the early 20s of their parents’ experience; our second child married in his early 30s; our youngest needs to keep growing up before spawning (to be fair, he very well knows that).
Some days the parenting commitment is most burdensome; mostly, though, it is rewarding to the extent that when I’m wished “Happy Fathers’ Day!” by my family and friends my usual response is, “Hey, every day is Fathers’ Day.” Mostly, I’m sincere.
So, a “holiday” contrived, mainly, to give the advertisers yet another occasion for advertising; the retailers the selling opportunity they crave. But, I don’t mind using the day to be a bit reflective.
And reflection is the operative word. Since there are few grading agencies for parenthood (except of course if one really screws up, and comes to the attention of the state Dept. of Children and Family Services).
No, the only way to measure whether you’ve been a good parent, is to take a look at your children; even better, the children of your children, should you be fortunate enough to have them.
By the way, my mother (who by now is a great-grandmother three times) has a dear friend, a widow for 20 years or so who is almost 15 years older, and who has two children, and absolutely no grandchildren. Nice people, my mother’s friend and her late husband, but one wonders retrospectively about the kind of parents they were. Cruel judgement.
Now, the jury is still out, but I’m inclined to grade my daughter and son-in-law very high; those two grandkids are bright, cheerful and healthy. So, under this (admittedly incomplete) evidence, I’ll rate the parenting skills of his parents, and Mr. & Mrs. MUDGE quite positively. Subjective grading, but I like my methodology.
All of you parents out there, if you can measure your kids on the positive side of the scale, take some credit for your hard work and persistence. Woody Allen (perhaps not otherwise the best role model for parents!) is purported to have said first, “80% of success in life is showing up.” Gotta think that works in parenting big time.
Happy Fathers’ Day!
It’s it for now. Thanks,