What?! Your Father’s Day wasn’t filled with unusual amounts of insulation, netting, and tulle? How very bizarre!
Father’s Day. When you’re raised by a single mom the day tends to come and go without much thought. Even though I share lovely relationships with my dad and step-dad, it’s just never been solidly on my radar screen. Meaning, I spent a good 30+ years not really giving Father’s Day a second thought.
Enter into the picture my husband.
One of the things that I was most enamored with when I met my husband was the kind of father he is. At the time, one of the little girls had just turned four and the other was about to turn three. He shared joint custody with his ex-wife allowing each of them to have the little girls for 50% of the time. We dated around his schedule because I was pretty insistent that I not meet the little girls until we had a good idea about where the relationship was going.
He talked about them all the time. Not only to me, but to anyone who would listen. It was a different perspective of fatherhood than I’d ever seen. He wrestled with them, watched Disney movies with them, took them to indoor mall playgrounds, dressed them like princess and then went out to run errands, and he was the most engaged and excited dad. As anyone who goes through a divorce can likely attest to, there is heartbreak when it comes to your kids, because you don’t want them to be hurt by your decisions and you also don’t know what’s going on with your children when they’re not with you. I saw this man love them and adore them but I also saw him weep over the unknown and carry worry every moment of every day they weren’t with him.
Every Father’s Day since we met, I’ve struggled to get something that will be meaningful and a good representation of what he means to the little girls (and to me as a father to the little girls). And each and every year I feel like I’ve failed. He’s particular about gifts, my husband. Much to my dismay, he doesn’t love receiving gifts (I know…crazy). I on the other hand, love receiving gifts, but also so love giving them. Imagine my horror when after a month of dating I bought him a Tiffany money clip to replace the paperclip he’d been using since his last one broke, and he looked at me like he wanted to bolt, because he was so uncomfortable. His discomfort with gifts has been tricky for me to come to terms with.
This Spring we’ve been aggressively paying things off and we’ve been particularly frugal (not my strong suit I’ll have you know). When Father’s Day started to appear on the horizon I started, as I always do, exploring the costs of the things I know he would love. There are a few things I know he would cherish should he receive them. But as the day grew near, I started to get the feeling that while he may love the gift, he would not love that I’d spent the money on him at all.
I decided not to chance it. I told him I had several things in mind but that I needed him to tell me what he wanted me to do. I wanted Father’s Day to be a day of good quality family time. I did not want there to be any unease due to the gift. That’s not what it’s supposed to be about. As I suspected, he told me he’d rather use the money to continue some ongoing house projects.
Fast forward to this past weekend. The little girls are at Girl Scout Day Camp this week. The theme? Fairies. Hell if we have anything lying around the house to dress fairies. I had the foresight to buy Father’s Day cards with the little girls a week ago so they’d have time to decorate them. But when yesterday arrived, I still hadn’t signed my card, nor had I given the actual day any thought. I scribbled a quick note and sealed the envelope. As you may have gathered…I’m rather verbose, so this was a huge shortcut for me, but I was pre-occupied with camp needs. We let him sleep-in, gave him his cards, but then we were off and running. We started at Home Depot where I bought some of the remaining supplies we needed and then we went straight home.
Before we knew it, my husband and his dad were in the attic installing lights and covered in insulation, and I was in the living room surrounded by 81 yards of tulle and netting ready to be cut and turned into tutus. The little girls hopped around, excited about all of the things going on, and excited for their upcoming camp adventure.
Throughout the day, I overheard the little girls saying “Happy Father’s Day” and my husband kept saying “it seems like it should be Mother’s Day with all of the work she’s doing out there.” After the lights were in, he and the girls moved outside to trim trees in our yard. Soon I was done with one of four tutus and he took the little girls to the pool to swim.
I was sitting in the (finally) quiet house. No saws screaming, no air compressors turning on and off, no creepy noises that would suggest my husband was about to put his leg through the attic floor/ceiling (again), just quiet. And I realized that we’d just enjoyed our best Father’s Day yet. In our messy house, with tulle and netting and insulation blowing in the summer breeze, and all surfaces in the house covered with items needed for camp. No gift, no overly verbose card, and no “plans” needed. As a result of our simple day, there were also no hurt feelings because the gift wasn’t well received, no worry about making the day “perfect,” and no feelings of failure on either of our parts. Success!
TODAY: What if “keep it simple stupid” is the best way to celebrate love after all?