When I was nine and my brother Ted was two, my parents divorced. I stayed with my father; my brother went with my mother. It was a tremendously sad period in my life (don’t worry, Ted, I won’t tell the commuter parking lot stories), but I learned a lot about my father during the years that I lived with him.
I learned that fathers cry, too. I learned that when I was sick, my father could play nurse just as well as my mother. He’d stay home from work and concoct silly citrus drinks. He understood how to apply a cold compress. He let me watch Three’s Company and Love Boat.
In those years, I learned I could trust my father to take care of me.
Junior’s learning the same lesson about his own father, thankfully under different circumstances. With Chuck home full-time, Junior knows that Chuck can remove slivers and make popsicles and comfort him when he’s having a bad day. Chuck's gotten so adept at parenting, we often have wipe-downs. Junior still prefers barfing on me, but when I look back on this time in my life, I know I will hold dear the trust and bond that have grown between them.
I thought about this a lot on Father’s Day. I thought about what a beautiful gift fathers can be. I’m sorry for those who were taken away from us too soon. And I’m sorry for those who choose not to be part of their children’s lives.
I’m also sorry for the recent article “Are Fathers Necessary?” by Pamela Paul. It’s an insult to fathers everywhere, especially the line “The bad news for Dad is that despite common perception, there’s nothing objectively essential about his contribution.”
I beg to differ. Bitch.
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