Monday, 17 June 2013

On Fathers' Day.




In the evening the sun came out, and my younger son, on the first of his Fathers' Days, was able to go for a walk with his wife, while his brother took photographs and his mother did the washing-up and baby-sitting duties.
Prior to that he had changed a couple of uncomfortably full nappies, spooned an assortment of foods into his small daughter and had a quick nap in the middle of the lawn, even though it was cool and starting to rain.
He had a bad night, a very early morning, and a number of joyful, laughter-filled hours in which small daughter trampled on him, played the keyboard with him, chewed whatever he was trying to read, patted his head, swung on his hands and broke into rapturous smiles whenever their eyes met.
A day pretty much like many others, in fact.

Fathers' Days are not that old.
I never experienced them in my own childhood, but a couple of decades back my sons spent a school afternoon producing heavily decorated cards, and were also persuaded to part with pocket-money on chocolate bars.
 ('Do you think he'll share it?'
 'Oh, I'm sure he will.'
 'Perhaps I'll put a note on it to remind him.')

This year my older son visited the place where his father's ashes are buried, and at dinner-time both of them fondly remembered their intense dislike of his morning cheerfulness, bursting into their bedrooms singing, 'Morning has Broken', but at the same time bringing them cups of tea.
I hadn't realised about the tea. In my own jaundiced early morning state I could not have trusted myself not to tip it into their tousled beds.
The early morning cheerfulness seemed like a trial for all of us.

I have tended to feel cynical about the commercialisation of these 'special' days, seeing them as opportunism yet again, but  yesterday was special, with so many confused memories of my own father as well, and my feeling of regret that I knew so little of him as a person because his interests and enthusiasms were always elsewhere.
But the celebration of the day felt right. There were memories of old fatherhood, with all its good and bad and confused bits, and there is the real joy of seeing new fatherhood, growing and strengthening with every soggy nappy, early-morning wake-up call and radiant recognition by a happy little daughter.

And now the early-morning cheerfulness is back - fresh, irresistible and so very welcome!

15 comments:

Zhoen said...

Bless all the good dads.

Relatively Retiring said...

Hear, hear Zhoen, and even the not so good ones!

Molly said...

Oh, how this brought back memories of my own dad and his morning cheerfulness! He'd come to wake up my sister and me for school and, regardless of the weather (chilly more often than not!) would fling back the curtains, throw open the windows and sing out "Rise and Shine Girls!" How I have missed him for the last thirty nine years....

Your Fathers' Day sounds lovely!

Elephant's Child said...

A beautiful post which made my eyes leak. Thank you. May there be many more such love-filled days...

Jenny Woolf said...

There wasn't such a thing as Father's day in my childhood. I think that we were a bit behind America and I can remember my dad saying it was just a waste of time and money. But in the end he got to appreciate it. Our kids hand make stuff so it is really nice and personal, and nice to have a day when someone is praised just for being who they are!

Relatively Retiring said...

Molly, E.C. and Jenny: thank you for your comments. The early-morning cheerfulness is a terrible thing when you're adolescent, and my sons enjoyed sharing their vivid memories of it.
After my husband's death I found many hand-made cards, bookmarks and other Fathers' Day souvenirs squirrelled away. Small Grand-daughter had made a face-print for her first such offering (meant to be a hand-print, but she slipped!). So yes, Jenny - all very personal.

pohanginapete said...

I share your cynicism — I feel it even more strongly about Mothers' Day — but agree that the reminder to celebrate (in the non-commercial sense of the word) people central to who we are can indeed feel right and joyous. Maybe it's even possible to enjoy it more by subverting the profiteers and enjoying it without fattening their wallets?

Relatively Retiring said...

P.Pete: a good point, and we certainly did that. A nap on the lawn in light drizzle costs nothing!

Isabelle said...

No, I like it - it doesn't need to be commercial.

My dad used to come into my room in the morning declaiming loudly "Awake! For morning in the bowl of night / Has cast the stone which sets the stars to flight!" And if we didn't show signs of alertness, he'd continue. There are a lot of verses.

Relatively Retiring said...

Isabelle: that's interesting -lots of Dads' special awakening quotes and songs!

Peregrina said...

Yes, I've always throughly disliked the commercial aspect of Mothers' and Fathers' Days, too. ["An ideal gift for Mother - show you love her by buying her the latest turbo-action vacuum cleaner. 20% discount off RRP this week only."]

I discouraged our children from buying anything. "Make a card, or pick some flowers from the garden, or write a funny pome ..." Once, young son came inside, beaming, with a bunch of bright yellow flowers he'd just picked. Unfortunately, dandelions close up when there's no sun shining on them.

Snoozing on the lawn in light drizzle sounds very refreshing. (Even the dandelions would have gone to sleep,too).

Relatively Retiring said...

Peregrina: I hope the new fathers had an equally happy day - or was it the wrong date for them?

Peregrina said...

Wrong date - but I'm sure they each had a happy day with their new daughters nevertheless.

Frances said...

Such happy posts, Relatively Retiring. Thank you.

Allison said...

This is cool!