Posted by: Christine Johnson | June 14, 2006

Happy Father’s Day, You Dork!

Imagine, if you will, a Mother’s Day card that talks about mom being a bad housekeeper. “You keep us fed, even if the house is a disaster. Happy Mother’s Day!”

Or how about this one? “Moms are great for being sure that we are clothed and fed, even if we have to make our own lunch. Happy Mother’s Day!”

That’s no good for your mom? How about this? “We always knew right from wrong, Mom, because you were around…” (inside:) “…to nag us to death! Happy Mother’s Day!”

Okay, what about mom’s cooking? “Happy Mother’s Day to a woman who knows how to put dinner on the table…” “…as long as it’s takeout! Sorry you burn the water when you boil it! Happy Mother’s Day!”

Imagine the uproar over Mother’s Day cards like this! 60 Minutes would have an expose about how gender discrimination has creeped into the most innocent of holidays: Mother’s Day. We’re supposed to be honoring our mothers! What’s this garbage?

But gender discrimination has, indeed, creeped into the most innocent of holidays. It’s here on Father’s Day.

Allow me to give a few examples of some of the cards I found at Hallmark while looking for Father’s Day cards.

First, a card with three cartoon panels on the front:

First, a young man asking his father, “Dad, can I borrow the keys to the car?”

Father: “Ask your mother.”

Second, same young man asking his father, “What time should I be home tonight?”

Father: “Ask your mother.”

Last, same young man asking his father, “Dad, what do you think?”

Father: “Ask your mother.”

Inside: “Happy Father’s Day to the ultimate authority.”

ha. ha. ha.

How about this one?

Front of card: A woman (cartoon) is standing in a kitchen, leaning on the counter. She says, “I got this card because it reminded me of you.”

Inside: “It doesn’t empty the dishwasher, either.”

Oh, good one.

Care for another? How about a card that supposedly extolls the manliness of a woman’s husband? She praises him for squashing bugs and fixing things (though the fixing looks like it’s going badly). But in there are the “you never ask for directions” (a common theme in Father’s Day cards) and the “thanks for listening to me when I need to cry on your shoulder” where the husband is actually watching TV while the wife cries. Because husbands don’t REALLY listen to us when we really need them.

Let me tell you this: my husband frequently misses things that I tell him, but when I am upset and need him to hear me out, he drops everything to hear me, including the day I called him at work crying because I was surrounded by happy pregnant women. He was in the middle of a meeting (at lunch, granted, but still surrounded by his coworkers) and he heard me out and comforted me.

What kind of woman buys this kind of card for her husband on a day when she is supposed to be honoring him?

There are still cards that are kind to fathers, but the only humorous ones seemed to be filled with biting sarcasm. Dad, you sure are “great!” (Wink, wink, knudge, knudge – what a loser!) The male-bashing that permeates our culture has infested Father’s Day. We all have seen the cute and funny cards out there for Father’s Day. But it was only today that I realized what is wrong with these cards. They, like much of our culture and media today, make dads out to be dolts. Who need ’em?

Fathers make the world a better place, especially when they marry and live with their families. Research shows again and again the difficulties children without fathers have.

Wait, let me rephrase that. Fatherhood is a biological thing. What we are talking about here are DADDIES. Daddies who are married to mommies and raising their children together have happier, healthier children with fewer developmental and social problems. One of the best gifts I can give my children is to love their father, and one of the best gifts he can give them is to love me in return.

And yet it is perfectly acceptable in today’s culture to slap men in the face and tell them what bastards they are. Just have a look at television! Stupid, hapless dad with the beautiful exasperated wife is the basic formula for just about every family sitcom. Dad is outwitted by the children. Dad is outwitted by the wife. Dad is barely able to care for himself and is a loser when it comes to caring for or watching the kids. Dad can’t unload the dishwasher. Dad can’t cook. If the kids ask Dad for advice, he gets a deer-in-the-headlights look. Basically, Dad is a moron who gets in the way of the rest of the family. What good is he?

But look at real life. I’m going to use my husband as an example, since he’s the man I am most familiar with as a husband and father (though my own father is another great example).

In my family, Daddy is much wittier than Mommy. He’s always willing to pitch in, even after a long day. Last Thursday, as we were getting ready to leave for camping early the next morning, I was trying to pack the last few things when I was suddenly struck with some intestinal difficulties that de-railed my efforts completely. Daddy emptied the dishwasher, refilled it, washed the dishes that wouldn’t fit (“You don’t want to come home to anything in the sink, honey.”), put the kids to bed (“Mommy is not feeling good, sweeties. She’ll be up as soon as she can.”), and started putting what I’d gotten packed into the back of the Jeep. All this after a long day at work.

When I was pregnant with Little Girl and had hyperemesis (again), he completely took over the household. Changing diapers, dropping Big Girl at my parents’ house, carting me back and forth to the hospital, changing the sheets when I was sick in bed, cleaning out the bowl, cooking all the meals (I couldn’t even be near the kitchen for a long time), picking up my prescriptions, and anything else that came up. All while working full-time. At least 50 hours a week.

When the girls were little, he would volunteer to change diapers – even poopy ones. And when he knew I was at the breaking point for lack of sleep, he’d volunteer to get up during the night when they woke up.

When company is coming and I realize I am WAY behind on housework, he vacuums for me. He puts away copious amounts of laundry whenever I ask. He straightens up and cleans alongside me.

He makes sure that my oil is changed and my car’s been serviced. (And I have to add here that until we were engaged, I did my own automotive work. Since he slipped that diamond on my finger, he’s been in charge of all of that, and he’s never once complained about it, even though he knows I’m capable.)

He has been unconditional in his support of homeschooling our children. When I went to the IHM conference, he said to me, “You know what you need. I’m leaving it to your best judgement as to what to get. If you need it for school, buy it and don’t worry.” He does not think that I’m not capable of educating the kids (and thought this way before I even decided to major in education in college, too). He is not worried that the girls will not get into college or that they will be behind somehow or that they are getting a second-rate education. I have to tell you that I know of women who struggle with this. They want to homeschool, they are stay-at-home mothers, and yet their husbands flatly refuse.

My husaband has also been known to get the girls bathed and into pajamas. Big Girl only started showering alone in the last month (I wanted to be sure she knew how to get the conditioner all the way out of her hair). But he also brushes teeth and – when it doesn’t need braids or ponytails – hair. But don’t you DARE call him Mr. Mom when he does this stuff. That, he insists, is insulting. He’s not Mr. Mom. He’s DAD, and this is what a DAD does. In fact, when I am out and he’s alone with the kids, they cheer. “It’s DADDY TIME!”

And, about once a month, my homeschool co-op has Moms’ Night Out. So tonight, he’ll leave work earlier than usual (made possible by his going in earlier than usual) and come home to pull pizza out of the oven and feed the children. He’ll make sure they’ve brushed their teeth and have on clean pajamas. He’ll hear their prayers and bless each of them. He’ll tuck them in. And I’ll be out with the girls.

Does he get a Guys’ Night Out? Not often, though I did tease him that at least he leaves the house Monday through Friday for work, so every day is Dad’s Day Out. But, because I don’t bash my man and try to make him feel small for who he is, he knows I’m kidding. (Which is why he went to poker night a couple of weeks ago, and I didn’t complain one bit.)

Some women think that if her husband doesn’t bring her flowers, then he obviously doesn’t love her enough. Or if he’s busy on Valentine’s Day, then that is a sign of a lack of affection. Let me clue you in on something: Valentine’s Day is a DAY. My husband has been busy and usually out of town that night for YEARS. He loves me every day of the year, and I don’t need February 14 to prove it. (I do like a card, but I do not want or need presents.) And as far as flowers, I’d rather have my man, who never brings me flowers but loves me and shows me in all the ways I mentioned above, than a man who brings flowers and that is the only way you’d know he had any affection for me. Do I wish I got a bouquet of daisies once in a while? Sure. I’m only human. But honestly, when I think about it, they make a mess after a few days. I really don’t need them. If I really want flowers, I go to Sam’s and pick up a bouquet and show them to my husband. “Look what you got me today!” We both laugh, and I compliment him on knowing just which ones I like. (And he DID get them for me. He is the only wage-earner in the family, God bless him.)

So this Father’s Day, let’s do something in our own worlds to make sure that we don’t share the popular opinion of men (which is pretty low). Let your father and/or husband know just how much you appreciate him. And thank God for him.

Men deserve our respect. Let’s work on giving it to them, and getting America back to the days when the father knew best and was a great all-around guy.

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