ParentsAugust 30, 2018

Emily Writes: When Father’s Day is hard


Father’s Day is this Sunday and we will be sharing stories from dads in the days to come. In this piece first published on her blog, Spinoff Parents editor Emily Writes writes about how hard the day can be for some. Later today we’ll have a  post with crowdsourced ways to get through the day if it’s a tough one.

It’s that time of year when the shop fronts change like seasons. They’ll take down the sales and replace them with signs that implore you to think of your dad, to think of all dads. It’s Father’s Day very soon.

And I’m thinking about you.

I’m thinking about those who struggle as the day draws closer. As inboxes fill with calls to buy socks and fishing rods and rugby jerseys and books about golf. As signs are posted saying for your dad

To those who have lost their dad, those who miss their dad: I’m sorry. I hope the signs don’t sting. I hope you find comfort in remembering him if he’s no longer right here. I hope you smile at the memory of his times with you his precious child.

I hope your pain on this day is dulled by the gift of having him as your father. Please know people are thinking of you on this day. Of your loss. And they’re wishing they could find the words. And I hope you get calls and texts from people trying to find those words for you. So you know on this day, and in the lead-up to this day, you’re not alone.

Those who can’t call their dad on Father’s Day. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry if he’s never been a dad to you. And he’s nobody to celebrate. If he’s not deserving of a thought let alone a card – you don’t stand alone. I hope you have people around you who will let you vent or have a quiet place to take it all in. To work out where you stand and how you feel, because feelings change too and stories return to us even after years.

I hope you know you’re loved, so loved. And one person not being the person they should have been to you doesn’t make you any less. I hope you can see what everyone else sees, that you’re brilliant and worthy and wanted. I hope those around you make sure you know on this day, and in the lead-up to this day, that you’re not alone.

To those who just don’t know if they should talk to their father on this day: Don’t let the discourse around Father’s Day and its meaning invalidate your feelings. You matter and you have to make choices about your well-being.

You know what’s right and sometimes it’s not the Hallmark thing. If your relationship with your father is just too complex, too much, if the waters under the bridge are raging – I’m sorry. And I hope you know there are others who feel that too.

I hope thoughtless comments of “He’s your father and that’s all that matters” are drowned out by a torrent of love for you, and just you. And you know a day is a day is a day and there’s time in this world to heal and do what is right for you. I hope those around you make sure you know on this day, and in the lead-up to this day, that you’re not alone.

To those mothers who co-parent with grace and kindness even when their ex-partners have put them through the wringer and wouldn’t do the same for them: you’re seen on this day too, and in the lead-up. When you help your child collage a card and you work to foster a relationship for their sake – we see you.

You’re not alone and we recognise you too. To the mothers who for the safety of their children have escaped homes of violence and pain to build something beautiful: you’ve given the greatest gift to your children too. And this day is also testament to your courage. On this day, and others, and in the lead-up I hope you know you’re not alone.

And to those men who want to be dads but fertility is a shitty, unfair, rubbish roulette, I’m sorry. I hope you know there is such gratitude for the way you support your partner through the crushing lows of this desperate hope. You’re not forgotten.

That pain is real and it’s shared by other would-be dads. Other dads who dream of children scrambling into bed with a hand-drawn card that says Happy Father’s Day. Those who have been through it themselves, and had the best or the worst resolutions – or no resolution at all – think of you on this day. There are no empty platitudes. Just the message that you’re not alone on this day, and in the lead-up to this day.

To the men who raise children with love and patience and kindness even though they haven’t known this from their fathers: We see you on Father’s Day. You broke a cycle and that’s huge. You changed a generation.

You turned that pain into a beautiful thing. A fraught Father’s Day, a confusing mix of deep gratitude for the life you have now, and sorrow for the child you once were – that’s understandable. You’re not alone. On this day or any other. May your children bring you comfort, may you know it’s a special thing you’ve done, creating a family where there was none.

We honour the good dads when we put our humanity first and remember that for many Father’s Day isn’t a happy day. We can make it a better day for some, or just a day that doesn’t sting, or irritate, or anger, or hurt, if we show compassion. A really good Father’s Day could be a day where we remember we all have different ways of viewing this day. All of us.

We celebrate each other and our humanity when we recognise that. That doesn’t take away from the wonderful dads – they stay wonderful, we keep celebrating them. It just makes sure nobody is left behind.

Emily Writes is the editor of The Spinoff Parents. Her book Rants in the Dark is out now. Buy it here. Her second book Is it Bedtime Yet? is available in all good bookstores. Follow her on Facebook here.

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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