Yesterday was Father’s Day in the US. I’m struggling to capture the right words to detail how happy I feel still to be celebrating my own father along with my husband, whose presence with us wasn’t exactly a guarantee this year.
I don’t recall how the practice began, but our kids are in the habit not of creating greeting cards, but writing notes to us on birthdays and other special occasions. They’re usually on plain old notebook paper, but at least they have the good grace to remove the spiral shreds along the left margins. I’ve taught them something at least!
Their sentiments are definitely a step-up from store-bought because they’re from their hearts, so authentic. Thematically, the kids usually include whatever inside joke our family’s been into. For a long while, it seemed every card was Three Stooges or Impractical Jokers-themed, but we’ve also gone through the zombie Walking Dead period, obviously Barenaked Ladies-related, and then there was that year Netflix and I moved in to Stars Hollow with The Gilmore Girls. Anyway. Their notes are timely and reflect our family’s psyche, or current state of affairs.
Below are excerpts from the kids’ notes to their father on Father’s Day.
I posted these online because they meant the world to me, and simultaneously scared the hell out of me. Our children seem to have adapted to their new normal. Immediately after asking how my husband is doing, everyone asks how the kids are doing. A typical response from me goes something like this: Well, they seem OK, but I can’t be sure. One of the boys is quiet by nature, so doesn’t give much away, and the other is hot and cold with communication, but overall, I think they’re doing as best they can.
Geez. What a bunch of BS I peddle.
Their Father’s Day letters to their dad reveal how they’re doing. But I will stand by my “they seem OK” assessment. They do. Teenagers should not have to have a sit-down with their dad about life-altering accidents and crushing injuries, but you don’t get to pick.
I was surprised that a number of my social media peeps believed the “But hey, you didn’t die” was meant in a funny way. I assure you, that while we are a sarcasm-heavy, humor-first kind of family, there was not a trace of levity in my sons’ heartfelt messages. They were so scared. So confused. Thinking your dad may be gone is no joke to them, and they’re living with his solid-but-not-always-pretty rehab every moment they’re breathing. It’s not something they’re just laughing off. Gallows humor may be one of my coping mechanisms, but they’re too young or too naive to go down that road yet.
I’ll never know if I got it right for the kids, how I’ve handled things with the accident and since. But I have tried and will continue to try to do my best for them. I haven’t lied to them; I’ve been honest without being gruesome or too grave, but at times I’m convinced I’m failing as often as I’m succeeding. Well, maybe (hopefully?) succeeding a little more than failing. I’ll give myself that anyway.
Sometimes your kids hand their dad a gift, but that gift turns out to be just what I wanted and fits me perfectly too! Get well soon. We all need it!