Every year — sometime around mid-June, billions of people around the world celebrate the men in their lives who have either raised them or helped raise their children. It’s known as “Father’s Day,” but I feel that it should be renamed.
By definition, a “father” is someone who conceived the child; but as many have unfortunately experienced, the father doesn’t always stick around. Some bolt before the baby arrives, some bolt in the early years, some bolt in the teenage years and some bolt as soon as the mother says, “I’m pregnant.” It’s a sad reality that many grow up without a father, but not every abandoned child grows up without a positive male role model. Therefore, I decree we rename this holiday, “Dad’s Day.”
By informal definition, a dad is the person who raises the child. A dad is the person who friends see when they come over or at ball games. I have a friend whose father left their family, an ex-girlfriend whose father passed away and a friend who has never met their birth father. All three may not have a “father,” but all three had a male figure in their lives — be it through their mother’s remarriage and/or the man adopting them through the marriage. The point being: That man should not be associated with the coward who left because he couldn’t handle it. (Just for clarification, my ex-girlfriend’s father is not included in this group, obviously.)
If you read my previous post on “10 Things You Will Learn From A Child,” then you know that I dated a girl with a child for two years. Although we were on-and-off at times, we were steady for about a year and half. The first full year we were together, she made me a beautiful card for Father’s Day, which I still have stowed away in my room. Aside from it being covered with incredible drawings she made and painted handprints of the little one, she wrote a lovely note towards the end of the card. Here’s an excerpt:
“As for (child’s name), she loves you more than anything else except me (wink face). She has someone good to look up to — you! You are a great man and what you took on when we first met is like no other and that’s one of the greatest reasons why I love you so much. You are so good to her, really; it’s unbelievable. I don’t know any other father in the world like you, and I really mean that.”
I still tear up reading it. That year, friends and family wished me a Happy Father’s Day, which made me feel great that they felt I was making a positive impact on this child’s life, but it also made me remember that I wasn’t, in fact, her father. Sure, if her mother and I eventually got married, I would adopt her and I would be her legal guardian; but there was no blood connecting the two of us.
Her mother and I are no longer together and, although they moved 1,000 miles away, I still do what I can to be in the little one’s life — call her, visit her, send gifts, etc. — whatever she needs. She’s 4 and a half now and still remembers who I am, which is something I hope never changes.
So, while my stance is biased due to personal life experience, I also look at what some men have done for my friends and their lives. Any guy can sleep with a woman and become a father; a “dad” is the real man who steps up and is in it for the long haul. In my opinion, those are the men we should be celebrating.