Father's Day For Grown Ups

dad hugging teenage daughter
Father embraces teenage daughter after returning from a year away. (Jarrod M. Vickers/DVIDS)

When I call my parents, my dad cannot pass the phone to my mom quickly enough. I can almost hear him squirm and flap on the other end of the line like a fish on a hook.

When I was 21, this worried me. I was pretty sure my dad loved me. I’d heard him say it. But his eagerness to pass the phone seemed like the sign my dad thought I was boring. Whining. Useless.

Now I’m in my 40s. My dad is in his 70s. These days I know that if my dad is trying to get off the phone it is a sure sign that Bill O’Reilly is on TV. Or the sun is shining in Dayton so buckets of golf balls must be hit. Or that my mom is literally jumping up and down cuz we girls have a billion things to talk about since yesterday.

Father’s Day is easy for me and my lucky Dad because the years have granted a certain amount of understanding (even when your kid is a certifiable whiner!).

Not everyone gets that kind of relationship peace. Around Father’s Day, there is often this little bit of unease in the air, as if our relationships with our dads were a little harder to organize than our relationships with our moms.

When we asked our Facebook readers whether geographic distance made their relationship with their dad suffer, a lot of women responded about the not-so-easy distance between dads and daughters.

Some, like me, longed for a little more contact with their dads. “We don't talk as often as I like, but our relationship will forever be the same,” wrote Erica M. “He does, however, need to learn to Skype! I miss his face.”

Some of us have lost our dads forever. Lisa wrote, "Well, it won’t be a good Father Day for us. We lost our dad this February. So will be hard on us this year.”

The responses that struck me most were the ones from people who had dads who were not holding up their end of the dad/daughter bargain.

“My dad makes my relationship with my dad suffer,” our friend Bianca Strzalkowski noted wryly.

“What relationship?” asked Nancy. “Not everyone has a relationship with their 'father' to start with.”

Lako agreed. “My father walked away from his five kids 42 years ago! He has missed out on marriages, grandkids and great-grandkids.”

That kind of thing never seems fair to me. Because you can’t come to relationship peace by yourself. You can make peace within yourself about what the relationship is. But you can’t make the dad/daughter thing turn out right because you want it to or you deserve to have it turn out that way.

Sometimes Father’s Day turns into one of those Holidays for Grown-Ups. Where you take a look at that relationship and truly deepen your understanding -- more than you ever wanted.

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