By Henry Amador
As I prepare to celebrate my fourth Father’s Day, my mind and its thoughts slowly drift towards my own father (as they always seems to do) as they have done for as long as I can own those thoughts.
Much like on Mother’s day accepting that those thoughts are wrapped in the things that remembering a parent who has passed on brings. Those thoughts are warm, comforting, and nostalgic. They are welcomed and always a nice surprise, like a best friend unexpectedly showing up with a latte in hand.
My Father’s Day thoughts are different since they are made up of the things that go along with a living, yet absent, parent. A parent that left, abandoned, and seemingly chose to forget a child. They are cold and uncomfortable and about as welcomed as a Jehovah’s Witness knocking on the door on a quiet Sunday afternoon.
Yes, those Father’s Day thoughts are heavy and weighted, and can often make that simple day in June one that demands so much of my heart. As a younger man it was a day that I worked very hard to avoid and to ignore.
They say that having a child changes you. They say it softens you and helps to put things in perspective. They say it allows you to see through your child’s eyes and there are certainly some truths in that.
Over the course of my last three Father’s days I have been somewhat forced to come to terms with my relationship with my dad.
At first I convinced myself that it was for my son’s sake, that just because my paternal relationship had been so strained it was still not a good enough reason to deny either one of them the other.
That worked for a while.
I hid behind my new role as a father, took one for the team and tried to put the past, my past behind me.
I convinced myself that the best way around my feelings towards my father was to just be a better dad than he was, than he could have ever been.
That too worked for a while.
I did what my family always did and that was to deny the truth, to keep up appearances and to just pretend things were fine.
I just tried to forgive and forget.
Even that worked for a bit.
I tried to ignore that feeling in the pit of my stomach and hush my spirit when it yearned to shout a loud.
But that didn’t work very well at all.
The only way around my feelings is through my feelings.
It amazed me to realize how uncomfortable I have gown with discomfort. How scared I am to get too cozy with my real feelings and the lengths that I will go to pretend that things are just fine.
Don’t rock the boat Henry.
Be the bigger man Henry.
Turn the other cheek Henry.
Shhh Henry, leave well enough alone.
But that’s not the kind of father I want to be, as a matter of fact it’s the exact kind of father I had hoped not to become because it’s the exact kind of father I had.
Funny how life works huh?
Neil Gaiman said “Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”
No truer words have been spoken and I am grateful that, even at the ripe old age of 51, I can be enlightened and inspired to start differently and anew.
So as I prepare to celebrate my fourth Father’s Day I make these promises to my beautiful four year old Ben.
Daddy will strive every day to be truthful and authentic.
Daddy will listen to you and believe you and allow you to feel what you feel.
Daddy will never, ever, leave you.
Daddy will never let his fears become yours.
Daddy will keep you safe.
Daddy will always honor your other father, your Papa.
Daddy will teach you that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself and not to another.
And finally, perhaps the best one I can offer,
Daddy will not become his father and you do not have to become yours.
Happy ( I adore being yours ) Father’s Day little man!