July 26, 2017

Happy Un-Father’s Day?

Happy Father's Day, virtualDavis and Gordon Davis

"Happy Father's Day, Dad!" (to George Gordon Davis, Sr. from George Gordon Davis, Jr.)

Today is a spectacular day. Bluebird skies overhead. Warm breezes off of Lake Champlain. Dry air. Perfect. Oh, and it’s Father’s Day.

I’ve just returned from Father’s Day brunch at the Essex Inn in Essex, New York. A delicious meal in newly remodeled digs with my father, my mother and my bride. An enjoyable way to celebrate my dad. As his eldest child I couldn’t help but remind him that I was if not instrumental at least a willing participant in his transition into the heralded halls of fatherdom. Early adopter? Angel investor? Something.

It’s easy enough to scoff at Hallmark holidays, but there’s not much value in the effort. As far as I’m concerned any excuse to celebrate, any opportunity to express gratitude, and any chance to commemorate goodness is worthwhile. Life is just better when we celebrate! And Father’s day is no exception. A reminder to let the fellow know that I still love him after almost forty years, that I genuinely appreciate the sacrifices and the efforts he undertook (and undertakes) for me, that I’m sincerely pleased to have a more congenial rapport with him in recent years, that I look forward to a whole lot of living and learning and laughing together in the years ahead.

And yet, I said goodbye to my parents after brunch without sharing these thoughts. My bride and I gave him a handsome pair of cufflinks with a card that was funny/flip/poignant but totally sidestepped mentioning anything I’ve just banged out on my keyboard. Why? Chalk it up to filial psychology. Or distraction. Chalk it up to anything you like, the point is simply that even with Father’s Day on the calendar and even with a leisurely (and delicious) brunch together to celebrate Father’s Day, I dropped the ball entirely. So far…

You see what I’m getting at? Hallmark holidays are marketing miracles. But they also afford us welcome reminders to celebrate and thank and commemorate people who make our lives worth the cost of admission. To say things we’d otherwise overlook. Which is why I’m going to ask my father to read this post shortly. I’d like to make sure he gets the memo, even if it’s delivered digitally instead of over eggs Benedict and roast beef.

Dad, thank you. Thanks for marrying mom. Thanks for choosing to have children. Thanks for swapping your childfree life, your childfree marriage for decades of aggravation, anxiety, astronomical expense and frequent insubordination. Thanks for leaving New York City to raise your family in the North Country. Thanks for working your @$$ off to cloth us, to feed us, to house us, to educate us, to ship us off on far-flung adventures. Thanks for encouraging me to leave home at fourteen to attend Deerfield and later Georgetown. Thanks for underwriting both. Thanks for the letter after college telling me to unwind, to take an adventure, to go learn how to surf and an airplane ticket to anywhere that might help me tackle all three. Thanks for respecting my graduate studies at St. John’s, for helping me juggle graduate school debt, drive a safe car, sort through big people challenges and mistakes. Thanks for encouraging my teaching, my writing, my increasingly peripatetic lifestyle. Thanks for free legal advice over years, and thanks too for learning when to relinquish the lawyer dynamic. Thanks for loving, supporting and encouraging my bride and for never pressuring me to marry her during the four years it took me to take the proverbial leap. Thanks for accepting (and hopefully understanding) our decision not to have children. Full stop. What?

I hope that you know our childfree family is not a judgment of our own parents’ parenting. We both consider ourselves unusually fortunate in this regard. But I do understand that our choice not to have children can be confusing, even saddening or disappointing to our parents. I apologize for the confusion, the sadness, the disappointment. And I am grateful that you have not tried to change our minds, that you’ve respected our decision. In short, this Father’s Day I’d like to thank you for supporting my decision not to be a father!

Which brings me back to the title of this post, “Happy Un-Father’s Day”. With the exception of today, every other day of the year must be Un-Father’s Day, right? Looking to The Unbirthday Song from Alice in Wonderland for logic or at least inspiration, I’ve decided that there are three hundred and sixty four Un-Father’s Days each year. Now that’s reason to celebrate! (Though it’s not the only reason to remain childfree…)

About virtualDavis

G.G. Davis, Jr. (aka virtualDavis) is a writer, storyteller, unabashed flâneur and eager-beaver uncle. Despite two whiz-bang nieces, two superstar nephews, and rewarding teaching/coaching stints at the American School of Paris and Santa Fe Preparatory School, he remains willingly, enthusiastically and happily childfree. His WNK posts are part of an ongoing attempt to understand why. Rosslyn Redux, a transmedia chronicle about rehabilitating an historic property in the Adirondacks, offers a more ironic twist on his childfree adventure. He also blogs at virtualDavis.com and EssexonLakeChamplain.com. Connect with G.G. Davis, Jr. via Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

Comments

  1. Great post George!

    I am not a father (as I’m female :P), but my husband is also not a father, as like you, we have chosen not to have children – and like you, I know that this choice is somewhat saddening/disappointing to my parents (my husbands parents though, are fine with us making this choice). But yes, it’s on days like this that we are reminded to celebrate family (mothers day, fathers day, even grandparents day!) but it is also a reminder to those of us who won’t ever be mothers, fathers, or eventually grandparents – to nothing more than our dog anyway!

    But like you said, these Hallmark-made occassions allow us to remember how grateful we are to the parents that brought us into the world and raised us to the very best of their abilities.

  2. Thanks, Caitlin, for your generous (and funny) comment. Always helpful to have external motivators that push us to act, even when it’s just showing gratitude. Cheers!

  3. Loved it George. The photo is great and I can understand why your father might be upset that you are not passing on his excellent hair genes. Can you bottle and sell those things? It was a great end emotional read and it is nice to see how long you’ve been doing that tuck your muscle-T into your running shorts thing…

  4. Great post. You maybe even made me cry a bit. This is a great reminder to appreciate our dads (and moms) for all they do. It is a huge job and a choice that should not be taken lightly. Today my mother told me that she okay with having a dog as a “grandkid” so maybe we’re making progress. Love the photo.

  5. Brian, I was sooo ready to dish up the secret hair elixir (think Chia Pet meets Odwalla Superfood) until you took the muscle-T dig. I guess surfers skip these ergonomic streamlining practices in order to show off their shiny, bald legs and torsos. That’s cool. But if really want to find your wave zen, you’ve gotta test drive the all-tucked-in approach! 😉

  6. Amy, was trying jerk chuckles, not tears. Silly me! Maybe that explains dad’s eloquent response to the post: “Thanks for the post. It’s been fun. dad”

    A huge job indeed, best left to those with huge parenting aptitude/appetites… Good for your momma, though I’m not sure a pocket-sized Chihuahua counts as a “grandkid”!

  7. Great post. I’ve got to be grateful for these 3 things too — “my teaching, my writing, my increasingly peripatetic lifestyle.” I have these loves too — (as well as 3 unwieldy children!) Happy un-Father’s day — today and every day! Keep teaching, writing, traveling!

  8. Cheers to teaching, writing and wandering. AND to unwieldy children! 😉 You’re fortunate indeed to have all six plus an amazing husband who we love and can’t wait to see again soon. Thanks for your sweet comment.

  9. Joe Goldberg says:

    …Father’s Day, What Father’s Day ? ……..
    How Parental Alienation Effects Father’s Today
    ……………..By Joseph Goldberg, 2012…………………
    .
    .
    This is an important article for Grandfathers as
    well as for fathers.
    .
    I am spoofing the title of this article from a good
    friend of mine, Chaim Steinberger. He wrote a very
    insightful and brilliant journal article on Parental
    Alienation that he called, “ Father, What Father ? “
    .
    I decided to write about this holiday because many
    father’s will be hurting when it arrives. They won’t
    be getting to see their child or receive a call or any
    cards or any other acknowledgement because their
    children are alienated and that means come Sunday
    they’ll be rejected for very unjustified reasons.
    .
    For some dad’s who will be waiting to see their kid
    because a court order forces them to go, don’t be
    surprised when they show up- only to tell you they
    don’t want to be with you or only to say,” I hate
    you “… don’t expect them to change,,, that’s why its
    called a parental alienation dynamic.
    .
    I am writing my article just for fathers and for
    grandfathers, but the rest of you will hopefully
    also appreciate the message.
    .
    You know the old saying, “ Silence is deafening. “
    Well it’s deafening for a reason, and as another old
    saying goes, “ Everything happens for a reason. “
    Even though you may not be getting their affection
    on Sunday, it doesn’t mean your child isn’t at least
    thinking of you, and because they are alienated and
    unable to express to you that you’re not forgotten …
    and that they do love you, let me be the first one to
    remind you of that fact. Your kids do love you, and
    you’re not forgotten because Sunday, is also a very
    painful holiday reminder for them.
    .
    It’s painful to them to be without you because every-
    where they go and see a father with his son or, with
    his daughter; laughing, hugging, or kissing, smiling
    at each other, going out to lunch together, to dinners
    or a movie, driving together, talking on a cell phone,
    texting, meeting up somewhere, it reminds them
    that it’s also not them being with you.
    .
    Every time they turn on their TV that day, flip open
    their computer, listen to the radio, they will hear
    that it’s Father’s Day, and every time they pass by
    a store there will be an item for sale saying it’s
    Father’s Day, and they didn’t get you your present.
    They didn’t get to say, “ you’re my dad “ and then
    the words, `” I love you. “ They’ll try and block it
    out but how do you block out the sky, the ground
    below…. how do you erase the touch on your skin
    or what you feel deep in your bones ? It’s a psycho-
    logical skeleton.
    .
    Denial is a fixated condition for alienated
    children, so is breathing. Memories of love for
    father are never really erased they’re just
    buried below the surface and those memories
    will resurface on this Sunday, Father’s Day.
    .
    Take comfort in the fact that your picture may
    not be in a frame next to their bed or on the wall
    in their mom’s house, but they are not deleted
    from their memory. It is also hard to ignore
    mother trying to pretend how much better off
    they are without you, while the look on her face
    also reminds them she can’t be the father they’re
    missing out on today.
    .
    No matter what stepfather tries to take your
    place after you got replaced, displaced and
    erased, nothing is ever going to hold back their
    feelings of loss because they’re connected to
    their father when they see themselves in a
    mirror. Some likeness of you is something in
    their DNA that they can see in their own face.
    .
    Not only are there painful memories there
    are probably more than a few good ones.
    Like the time you took them to a show, or
    watched them at a school performance,
    or played some game with them, played
    with your pet, took them to visit your
    parents, cooked a meal for them, these
    memories are also resurfacing around them.
    .
    Imagine how it must feel for them to watch
    their friends getting together with their dads
    and how they have to explain or avoid talk-
    ing about you not being around on Father’s
    Day. Imagine anyone else trying to act as a
    substitute for the father they are missing in
    their lives and never saying,
    .
    “ Why don’t you call your dad today ? “
    .
    How is their behaviour going to be memorial-
    ized in the future ?
    .
    Father’s Day, is something I feel long after my
    own father has passed away. You don’t have
    to actually be around to be remembered and
    to be loved. I don’t need to feel bad about the
    father’s day I am not spending with him this
    Sunday, I will be thinking about all the good
    times with my dad and I know that your child-
    ren might want you to believe that they don’t
    love you back, but that’s just denial talking.
    .
    You’re as much a part of their life as you
    have ever been ( even more so ) and not
    because of being present, but because
    of being absent. Believe it because we
    know from all the social science research
    that this is truly how alienated children
    are feeling.
    .
    I feel my father is with me now even though
    he passed more than 15 years ago. I was
    alienated from him by a mother that
    extinguished him from my life, but not
    forever. We made up for all the lost time
    and years of alienation that was stolen from
    us both.
    .
    In the Jewish religion when a loved parent
    dies we say prayers, Kaddish, and we light a
    candle in memory of the parent. Perhaps as
    a way to remember that you are still a
    parent you should light a candle and keep
    it burning all day, on Father’s Day.
    .
    Say a prayer of love, memorialize your
    feelings of loss and perhaps to help be
    forgiving so anger does not take over
    the better part of judgment in your life.
    .
    As a targeted, rejected parent remember the
    good parts of the person you are and remain
    and strive to lift yourself up, don’t let any-
    thing change that belief in your-self because
    sometimes all we have is ourselves to believe
    in, and in truth that’s the one person whose
    opinion counts the most.
    .
    For more educational information please visit
    http://www.ParentalAlienation.ca
    http://www.ParentalAlienationEducation.com

Trackbacks

  1. […] emptiness of life without children is […]

  2. […] Happy Un-Father’s Day? (whynokids.com) […]

  3. […] Happy Un-Father’s Day? […]

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