Coming to terms with Father's Day.
Father's day gifts.
My wife gives gifts. I have to admit that I don’t really understand it and have a really hard time with doing it myself. I always feel like getting things from people is a little awkward and giving people things that they’ll actually like is so hit and miss. I’m not a wealthy person or anything, but if there was something I really wanted, I’d probably find a way to buy it. The same is true with most people in my life, so buying them something is hard. The whole gift-giving/gift receiving thing is just one of the many areas where I don’t think I quite function like my wife.
Today was a gift-giving holiday, or for me, a gift receiving holiday. It was Father’s Day. My only child is currently developing inside my wife’s belly, but still, this being the first “Father’s Day” where I could legitimately be called a “Father” meant lots of presents, because my wife gives presents. The presents were nice. She gave me all the 1980’s/1990’s era Batman movies. The super hero genre is probably my favorite genre at the moment, and probably sticks in my top five favorite genres (Alphabetically: Fantasy, Gangster, Sci-Fi, Spy and Super-Hero) any time. So, they were good choices. Probably they were better choices than the potted plant that I gave her for Mother’s Day. She also gave me a couple “Dad” t-shirts.
Me and My Dad
I seriously doubt anyone outside of my immediate family will ever see me wear those t-shirts. I wear a t-shirt every day, but under a shirt with a collar. See, my Dad always wears a shirt with a collar when he goes out in public, and to me, that is how a man should dress. I also wear a beard, like my Dad. I watch the news, like my Dad. I study the Bible, like my Dad. I fix things with JB Weld, duct tape and wire, like my Dad. I play with my dogs, like my Dad. I drive ugly used cars, like my Dad. I prefer to be alone than with people, like my Dad. I do a lot of things like my Dad. I didn’t get my Dad anything for Father’s Day. He didn’t expect anything. I’m sure that he’d have been grateful or tried to appear grateful if I had, but Dad isn’t really into gifts, just like me.
Don’t get me wrong, me and my Dad are very different. My Dad doesn’t like to go to movies. He has more of a temper than I do (but I can get there). My Dad is far more likely to wisely sit in silence if he disagrees, whereas I will always tell people why I think what I do whether they are interested or not. I like the outdoors, but Dad loves them. I really don’t mind going to a party sometimes, Dad hates them. I tend to see things from a much more hopeful perspective than my Dad does, but that’s probably diminishing.
It is really hard to tell how many of these things are nurture and how many are nature. Many of the ways in which I am like my Dad, however, are quite intentional. I want to be like my Dad. Dad is a good guy. He is a wise man. He is a smart man. He is a holy man. I really don’t tolerate criticism of anyone in my family, but least of all, my Dad. I know his imperfections. They are comparatively minor.
Feelings of Father's Day.
The recognition of Father’s Day today, and my place in it has overwhelmed me. My Dad is all of the things I described above, and I feel like I fall short. I try to be good, but I am not as good. I seek wisdom, but I am not as wise. I am recognized most places I go for my intelligence, but at the back of my mind is always; “If you think I’m smart, you should meet my Dad.” As far as pure, personal holiness goes, I can say without hyperbole that I really don’t think any saint or prophet has advantages on my Dad. I, on the other hand, am entirely too comfortable in the world most of the time. Excepting a word which many find acceptable that begins with “C” and is also used for a game fish and dice, I’ve heard my Dad cuss exactly four times in my life, and one of those was in a sermon to illustrate a point. I’m not keeping track to hold those against him, but because they were so shocking, so out of character, that they stick in my mind. Is there any chance that my child will be able to be so shocked if I do something wrong?
I don’t know. I am scared.
Every doctor’s appointment that my wife and I go to fills me with joy. To see my baby on the ultrasound is an amazing experience beyond what I can describe. To hear the heartbeat which is so fast causes my heartbeat to increase speed too. Just to look at my wife’s growing belly makes me smile. I am 37 years old and really had not expected this to happen, but it is.
All of that joy, however, is tempered with a growing sense of trepidation. How can I be good enough for a child to emulate? Sure, I worry about how I can provide financially. I worry about whether or not this is the best town to raise a kid. I worry about the outside influences the child will receive at daycare, then school, then college. I worry more about my influence. I worry about whether or not I can really be who my Dad is to me. I worry about whether or not I can be someone good enough for my child.