On the first day of spring three years ago I started the day by having a baby. I was awake in the small hours of the morning, labouring away, and by about 9am my youngest child was having cuddles with his father while I was being sewn up after an emergency caesarean.
A few days later it was Fathers’ Day (the Day of the Fathers, hence the location of the apostrophe). I was still in a fug of drugs, pain, sleep-deprivation and breastmilk. I spared a few thoughts for my own dad, but mostly I was trying to survive, keep the new addition alive, and not make the father in my house feel like he’d missed out that year.
This year not only is one of my children turning three on the first day of spring, but it is also Fathers’ Day; a much dreamed of double whammy for Hallmark, no doubt.
For me I approach each milestone like this with joy on the surface and most of the way down, but a little sliver of sadness and a bitter tear right down at the very bottom. Every time we celebrate who is here, and how long they have been here, I find myself thinking of the person who is not here. For me the person who is the most Not Here, if that makes sense, is my father, and so Fathers’ Day plus beloved small child’s birthday equals a bigger sliver than usual.
Don’t forget Dad, all the adverts scream at me. Ticketek even sent me an email straight to my inbox to this effect. I will remember him on Fathers’ Day, as on every day, thanks very much for the reminder to buy your stuff. But I won’t be buying him your stuff or anyone else’s because he never met the child who bears two thirds of his name, the child who turns three on the first day of spring, because he died five and a half years ago after a short illness.
I’m far from the only person without a father. I’m really lucky that most of my memories of Dad, and of our relationship, are good ones. For others Fathers’ Day is fraught because contact with that parent could be harmful, to them or others, or because they wouldn’t know how to find their Dad, or maybe they know that to wish him something nice would be to create resentment for someone else. For others it will be the relationship with their children that gives them pause for a silent inner tear, or the fact that they haven’t been able to have children at all.
Every person a different story, and not all of them happy.
So on the Day of the Fathers please be aware not everyone is having the Happy Fathers’ Day of Generic DIY Store or Generic Sporting Goods Store. Tread carefully on your fellow human beings because sometimes you are inadvertently treading on broken hearts.