It’s not fair.
We all know that moms and dads are equally important in their children’s lives, but the days we set aside to honor them – Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – are very different. I read online (so it must be true) that Americans spend $7 billion dollars more on Mother’s Day than on Father’s Day. The Hallmark cards are funnier on Father’s Day. Churches treat Mother’s Day with reverence and sensitivity and Father’s Day is an opportunity for sermons one “how to do it better.” I know it probably bugs me more than it does the men, but it does bug me, so I wrote about it in one of my books. That’s an advantage of being an author. You can spout off your opinions and attribute them to fictional characters.
In my story “Baggage Claim,” Ben Taylor goes in search of his biological father. He finds Jonah Campbell, who is delighted to learn that he has a son and four young grandchildren – and he especially likes the children’s nanny, Agatha. This is a scene between Agatha and Jonah, getting in the car after church on Father’s Day.
It’s a work in progress, before editing. Remember: don’t judge books by the first draft!
“So.” Agatha’s voice was challenging. “What did you think of your first Father’s Day service?”
The children had been talking about Fathers Day all week, reveling in their secrets and nearly revealing them in the process. Jonah had been surprised to find himself included in the “father” category, but he loved it.
“It was good.” He tried to think of something more to say. “It was an encouraging message,” he said. “Lots of good ideas.”
“Yes, the pastor had a lot of advice. Did you pick up one of those papers in the back? The ones listing additional resources for learning to be a good father?”
She was trying to make a point. Had he missed something? “I got one for Ben. It looked like it was directed more to the younger dads, but some of it would probably apply to me, too, with the boys.”
“It was terrible!” The words burst out of her, startling him. He’d thought it was good – an old-fashioned exhortation.
“You didn’t like it?”
“Oh, it was fine. But why today?”
“It’s Father’s Day.” It made sense to him. He buckled his seat belt and flipped up the sun visor.
Agatha gave him an exasperated look, the one she usually directed at Ben. “What kind of church service do you see on Mothers Day?”
Was it a trick question? Jonah opened his mouth to say that he didn’t usually pay attention to Mothers Day sermons, hoping to make a joke of it and diffuse her irritation, but she didn’t wait for a response.
“Mothers get nothing but praise. It’s not a lecture on how to be a better mother. Can you imagine how well it would go over if the pastor said, ‘Step up, Mothers. Scripture tells us you need to be a nurturing influence in your children’s lives. Don’t let your busy life be an excuse for failing to train them up.’ And then telling them he has a list of helpful books and websites for them?”
He choked on laughter. She didn’t stop. “And laying on a guilt trip, even telling them they need to meet their husband’s needs first. Can you imagine? No, Mothers get nothing but admiration. Fathers get jokes and lectures. It’s not fair!”
It was an insightful perspective. Jonah’s laughter died. “When Cindy and I went to church, they always made a point of including everyone. Like aunts and babysitters. They always mentioned that some women weren’t able to become pregnant, or had lost children or their mother had died.”
“Right! You don’t hear that on Father’s day.” Agatha said. She mimicked a southern preacher, “And we want to remember today that there are many men who are hurting because they are not yet fathers.”
“No, I didn’t hear that today,” Jonah said. “You’re right. But it’s good to have a sermon on fatherhood. Some of us need help.”
“Not on Fathers Day. It’s supposed to be a day to honor fathers, not nag them or make them feel guilty.”
“True!” He started the truck and entered the train exiting the church parking lot. “You should have a talk with Pastor Martin.”
“Maybe I will.”
He looked at her elegant profile. Maybe she would.
None of my guys are overly-sensitive. They would all rather have a grilled burger for Father’s Day than beautiful cards, flowers and chocolate. Too much gushiness would embarrass them and make them wonder what I’m up to. But I do want to show them respect and honor them for their dedication to loving and training up their children.
What makes your man feel valued and respected on Father’s Day?