I read recently that the average person spends three times as much on Mother’s Day than they do on Father’s Day and, whilst I’m not surprised, (my dad thinks Father’s Day is a load of rubbish, for starters) it made me think about how undervalued dad’s are in comparison to the way in which we revere mothers.
I can, in a way, understand why we put so much emphasis on celebrating mothers though. As a child of the 80s, my mum was very much the primary parent and gave up her career in our early years to raise me and my brother and sister. She did the bulk of the child-rearing (in between the Jane Fonda workouts and watching Dallas) and I, and many of the mums I know have followed the same template with our own families and do the majority of what it now termed ‘the emotional labour’ as well as the actual labour (birthday card and present buying, packed lunches, booking doctor’s appointments, getting up in the middle of the night to soothe and/or shout them back to sleep, scrubbing sick off the sheets, doing school pick ups and so on.)
I also realised, however, that my own father has always been something of a feminist, despite his own upbringing (the poor love boarded from the tender age of eight, whilst his little sister went to the local grammar school.) Even though his own mother didn’t work (and my grandfather was allegedly a Freemason) my dad has always been completely supportive and encouraging to my sister and I when it comes to our education and careers. He has never told us we couldn’t do anything and always believed in us.
Being a freelance journalist can be somewhat lonely and as I am also a bit of a praise junkie, I often turn to my father (alongside my prolific and chronic oversharing on social media) for positive feedback on any articles I’m especially proud of. He has become my champion and ally.
What has really amazed me though is how much he has stepped up to the plate since becoming a grandfather, especially in the absence of my mum who died when I was in my 20s (and who I wrote about in one of my first post.) He has administered calpol, done school runs, braved soft-play, taught my eldest to swim and changed countless nappies. He is pretty remarkable for a 72 yr old gent of his generation and I don’t tell him how much I appreciate him nearly enough.
I think father’s today are much more aware of how they need to support and encourage their daughters and I would say that is at the crux of feminism (still an ‘f’ word people are reluctant to use.)
I wrote him this poem for his 70th birthday a few years ago and thought I’d share it again when I realised I hadn’t got round to sending him a card in time for Father’s Day tomorrow. I’m hoping this post will make up for it…
Thank you Dad
Thanks for paying for my AA membership, countless parking tickets, putting me through university and keeping me well fed.
Thanks for all the times you acted as “Captain Cabbo” before I learned how to drive.
Thanks for instilling a work ethic in me and telling me not to skive.
Thanks for correcting me on my grammar and for all the stories you read to me without so much as a stammer.
Thanks for being my DIY guru, gardener and ad-hoc mechanic.
Thank you for teaching me how to stay calm in a crisis and not to panic.
Thanks for showing me the importance of having clean fingernails and, later on, for stopping me going off the rails.
Thanks for always believing in me and showing me how to be the best I can be.
Thanks for the hundreds of millions of cuddles and supporting me through all of life’s struggles.
Thanks for being a wonderful Grandad.
Thanks for being you, my dearest, lovely Dad xx