It’s been an eventful week for my family. My dad was in town last week, Eitan’s second birthday party was on Saturday, Father’s Day was on Sunday and there’s more going on this week too. There has been a lot going on in my head so I’m going to try to make sense of it all in separate blog posts each day this week. The posts may be a bit shorter as a result, but there will be more of them, so I suppose it evens out. As always, any sort of feedback is always welcome.
Father’s Day is a weird day.
I wrote about Father’s Day last week, but now that the day has actually passed, I’ve had some more time to think about it. I understand the general premise of the day; as important as it is to appreciate the people we love all year round, it’s nice to take one specific day and designate it just for those people. Birthdays are like that too, obviously, but days like Father’s Day and Mother’s Day celebrate the effort that goes into the “hardest jobs in the world.”
I say it’s a weird day because Father’s Day has so many different meanings for different people. For people who have – or had – positive relationships with their parents, the day serves its intended purpose of celebrating the people who are most important to us and recognizing the work that they put in to help us achieve our goals. But there are also those people who have not been fortunate enough to grow up with a positive father figure, for whatever reason. I’m thinking of kids whose fathers have struggled with substance abuse, kids in foster care and kids who have been raised by single mothers, just to name a few. I’m not taking anything away from the incredible work that the caregivers of these kids do; I’m simply thinking about the fact that there wasn’t a father involved. And I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be a parent who has lost a child when Father’s Day comes around. For these people, doesn’t Father’s Day just become another (sometimes traumatic) reminder of what separates them from the rest of American society?
Look, I know it’s not up to me to solve everyone’s problems and to make things better for every person in the world. I’m not saying we should do away with Father’s Day entirely.1 I do what I can for the people I can help and I’m satisfied with that. As Pirkei Avot teaches, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” I came to terms with my struggles with the Jesus Complex2 a long time ago (during a conversation with my father, not-so-coincidentally). But there were different points yesterday, whether I was playing catch with Eitan and my brothers and father, or pushing him on the swing in my wife’s cousins’ backyard, or this morning, when Eitan wouldn’t let me leave for work without sitting with him at his kiddie table while he ate breakfast, when my mind drifted a bit and I remembered just how lucky I am.
I hope you were able to enjoy Father’s Day. I certainly did.