Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's Day

Father's Day. What is there to say about Father's Day? I've never celebrated this day set aside for men who raise children.

I met my father for the first time when I was 17 years old. He lived in the same zip code as my mother and me. I won't go into what that means. Any person with an iota of intelligence can figure that out. He had a family at his address. A wife, three sons and a daughter. Perhaps they gave him cards on Father's Day. I wouldn't know.

After our initial meeting, I spent many years chasing this allusive thing with him. I thought, at the time, I was looking for love. I've since come to understand that love is a verb. It is a thing that is done. It is not something you can hold in your hand, or pull out of a pocket or wallet, or wear like a hat. Why was I searching for this allusive thing as though my father was hiding it behind his back?

Now that I am a parent, I understand a little more about parenting. I didn't learn this from my father. (Perhaps his absence was an influence.) I didn't even learn it all from my mother (who, by the way, served as both mother and father to me -- everyday). No I learned and continue to learn my parenting from my children.

There is no book or pattern really that can provide you with a How to Raise Children Who are Loved method. I have found the best teacher to be living with my sons. I feed them when they are hungry. I clothe them. I scold them when they are wrong. I hug them. By being present, I see what they need. I love them.

Even though I grew up knowing only a father who carried his love for me in his pocket and pulled it out on occasion to take me to dinner, and my sons, so far, only know about a father who put his love in his backpack when we separated, I'm praying that Nigel and Noah will grow up to be fathers who know that love is a verb.