Father’s Day has always been my least favourite holiday on the Hallmark calendar.  my father spent my childhood thousands of miles away, a voice on a phone, a series of semi-regular notes and letters in a cursive script round and beautiful.   he was, always, my father.  he was not a dad, though, never a daddy – neither rulesetter nor guide of my heart nor anything else the painfully gendered and whitewashed selection of Father’s Day cards at the gift shop have ever suggested he might have been, had he wanted to.  i have called him by his first name since i could speak.  every year for the past twenty-five or so, i have gone looking for a Father’s Day card for this man with whom civilities have always been observed with some pleasantness, and have struggled to scrounge up something that does not use the words “Dad” or “Daddy”, that does not refer to the great wisdom he imparted or patience he showed or money he doled out at my every whim, and yet that neither diminishes him to some couch potato stereotype ineptly blowing up a bbq, nor makes fart jokes.  every year, i am baffled to discover that such a card does not exist, except occasionally when The Far Side saves my ass.  this year, i had to resort to a card that ran along the lines of “i didn’t get you a bad tie, i just got you this card.”   i was rather shamed.  i love my father, for all…well, for all.  i think he deserves a better card than that.  but there was nothing else there that did not ring ridiculous, that did not cue the tumbleweeds to come blowing through the holes in the scenery, making them obvious, even cruel.

so i didn’t try to get Dave a card.  if our local supplier doesn’t carry much for the post-divorce family, finding something touchingly appropriate for “my not-quite husband on one of those fake holidays we hate anyway and have loathed particularly since we spent our first versions thereof as parents without a living child and thus realized just how wretched and contrived and surreal the whole shebang is” seemed, well, unlikely.  but i did let him sleep in, and made him an omelet and coffee.  and i hope somewhere in there i said thank you to him, because Oscar is too young to say it yet, too young to know that life doesn’t always come this way, with a dad who is willing to love you up close and everyday and with patience and joy in your accomplishments, who is able to be present and steady, who is able to teach you to laugh at yourself and at him, too, and who will love you without reservation.  but i am grateful on O’s behalf that he has this kind of dad, more grateful than i can say.
daddy sporting O's hat

and as i watched the two of them play today, daddy and boy, i realized i never fully knew how much i was missing all those years, growing up for all cultural intents and purposes without a father.  i am grateful for that too, because the twinge of comprehension does not cut nearly so deeply as it would have had i not come to the recognition here and now, as a part of something beautiful and strangely healing, this partnership and gift that parenting is, for us, when we are paying attention.
Oscar and Dave