Sunday, 16 June 2013

Happy Father's Day

   It's a humid Sunday afternoon, Father's Day. This morning at our favourite coffee spot (and community hub) I watched as different men came in, got in line, and wished each other a Happy Father's Day. I saw the pride in Brian's face as he accepted and gave the greeting.
   I wanted to hug them all, all those men, and congratulate them for being such incredible fathers. It's obvious to me that Father's Day gets a different kind of attention than Mother's Day, mostly because men (um, er) aren't typically the doters or important-day rememberers (come on, I'm allowed to say that) like women are. But there is something else to this day, at least for me and for scores of people I know. I am surrounded by good, caring, playful, present fathers. This wasn't the kind of father I knew or had, this wasn't a seemingly popular role for fathers with the kids I knew growing up. Meeting a real dad was like meeting a king or celebrity.
   In our home, Brian takes the lead as the more nurturing parent, and I can admit that. I learn from him how to be patient and playful and generous. Times are really changing, and we get to be more ourselves instead of what a gender stereotype dictates.
   I believe that our parents parent us even in the ways they are absent. For example, not having a solid attachment with my dad made me seek fathering in many different (and harmful) ways in order to fill the gaps. I adored my father with vehemence. It was a bruised love between he and I, one that healed after I left home, but truly came to fruition when he was dying.
   Why are parents not around? Not because they don't love, but mostly because they hurt or they don't know, or because personal issues prevail.

   Father's Day is bittersweet for me; I miss my dad so much. I wish he could have met my kids, I wish they could have known him even a little bit. I see some of him in Cedar, and it warms my heart. I have also longed for his calm, collected way of bringing me down a notch - I could use this most days lately as I navigate parenthood.

   There is this prayer, this honouring, that is spoken whenever entering or exiting a sweat lodge for ceremony, and it is: for all my relations. The sentiment behind this being that when you heal, you affect the seven generations before and the seven generations ahead of you. There is no separation or time divide when it comes to love and healing and family. How I make sense of this in my world is by witnessing my son have a father like Brian - who wakes with him every morning, reads, cares, educates, loves, spends endless time with, protects and plays with him. So although my father didn't provide most of that for me, knowing that Cedar has it bridges the gap. This is called healing a family spiral, and in my eyes there is no greater work for us to do here.

Happy Father's Day, Brian, you are the best. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there who are changing the old story. And Happy Father's Day to my dad, who would have wanted to sit in his garden today, drinking a beer, reading a good book and offering a scratchy moustache-kiss to each off his offspring.