Sunday, June 15, 2008

What Father's Day means to me

My whole association with the rite of Father's day is a little, um, skewed I suppose. As a child, I purposefully became "ill" so as not to have to attend day camp on the day they made Father's day gifts, I "forgot" announcements about father daughter teas, terrified that my mom would decide she should stand in, or worse yet, that she would send my grandfather. In my married days, I tried to really do something MANLY for my then husband on Father's day...neglecting the fact that I really know nothing about what constitutes acceptably manly versus stereotypically manly and I'm a poor organizer anyway. But hey I tried, and it is the thought that counts, right? Well, mainly it's the thought...for most people, anyway.

Since becoming a single mom, I've been back to rather wanting to hide away from father's day activities. But today I volunteered to help out with children's programming at church. We sat in a circle on the floor and we "lit" our chalice (a lovely little battery operated tea light) and as ever, our children let us glimpse their lives by telling us their joys and concerns. There was the usual assortments of birthdays being celebrated, grandparents coming to visit, doggies who were lost and found, and this week some stories of bailing out the basement. We came to the serious little blond girl sitting in the sitting in the corner. She frowned as she thought about what she wanted to say, "It's Father's Day," she sniffled, "but my daddy is in Iraq so he doesn't get to have a Father's Day." Her daddy, is in fact one of the nicest men I've ever met and it hurt my heart to see his little girl so obviously missing him. How different it made me feel. It made me remember that Father's Day, and Mother's Day too, is really more about the children.

It was brought to my attention some time ago that Mother's Day as it was introduced by Julia Ward Howe in 1870, had little to do with moms sleeping in or getting jewelery, or having a spa day. It had nothing to do with moms being appreciated at all...it was instead a call to action, a call to mothers to use their maternal voices for peace.

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.


It has occurred to me that Father's Day was really just created as a "Me too" holiday, someone thought that what was good for the goose was good for the gander...and so it all is really just an extension of my UU fore mother's call for peace. The only thing any good mother can do in honor of Father's Day is to be a good mother. Continue to fight for the good of our children, which always includes their fathers...the ones who wake up and honor you on Mother's Day and the ones who don't, the ones who build go-carts, and the ones who build character. Father's day is about making sure that kids have dads to go round with, not about ties or barbecue grills. And also about the sacrifices we all make to make sure that can happen. Father's day isn't about gifting a father with a manly day, it is about gifting a child with a father, for every day. Thank goodness for Father's Day.

1 comment:

Yes, I did.


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