Happy Father’s Day

It feels like just yesterday we were talking about how Mother’s Day can be so bittersweet, and here we are, talking about Father’s Day, feeling today much like we did then.

In some ways, Father’s Day is harder. Everyone knows what to do for Mother’s Day: a bouquet of flowers, maybe some jewelry, a sweet card and perhaps a special Sunday brunch. Dads are a little more complicated; as a general rule, they favor function over form and a man only needs so many neckties. And many of us run into the challenge of trying to shop for a man who already has everything he needs and insists he wants nothing (but will probably be secretly disappointed if he does, in fact, get nothing).

There’s a certain stereotype of fathers: If moms are the heart of the home — visibly affectionate and empathetic — then fathers are the foundation — stable and grounded, though less emotive. Certainly, though, not all dads are the same, just as no moms are. Some are huggers and criers, and some are the stoic but supportive type. Some are there for every meal time and every event, while others work long hours. Some are generous with their praise, and some are sparing with their words, making each one count. Some are loud and goofy, while others are quiet and serious. Some jump in to save the day, and some insist on teaching you how to do it yourself. Dads can be all or none of the above, or any combination in between.

Many of us are lucky to have fathers who stand as pillars of strength and reliability in our lives. And if not dads by blood, then dads by virtue — grandads/grandpas, stepdads, uncles, brothers, cousins, mentors, coaches, etc. Biological connection is not the only way we build families, and the people who show up for us, again and again, are our family.

So today, we celebrate our fathers and father-figures. For those of us lucky enough to have ours around, we make their favorite meal, take over a couple of their chores, give them their neckties (or pocket knives or power tools or whatever we managed to find that they either don’t have or don’t mind having multiple of) and we remind them how much we love and appreciate them.

For those of us missing our fathers and father-figures, we take a moment to remember what they have given us: happy memories, useful skills and a foundation upon which we build the rest of our lives. And we smile, knowing we carry their love with us, even though they are gone.

And so we’d like to say: Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and the dads-in-all-but-name.