Father’s Day has been a day of mixed emotions for me since my Dad died in 2002, when the sorrow of that first Father’s Day without Dad was able to be partially offset by focusing on the joy Stuart’s first opportunity to celebrate the day as a dad.
It’s now 14 years since Dad died, but I still feel a wrench when the kids and I are picking out cards for Stuart and I can’t add one to the pile for my Dad. That said, Dad was the least sentimental man in the world and whenever we asked him what he wanted for Father’s Day or his birthday his stock standard answer was always ‘a little bit of piece and quiet from you kids’!
Dad showed his love by fixing our cars and doing every handyman job he could find around our homes rather than by expressing words and emotions. Stuart is a completely different style of father to our children, he’s never made any claims to be a handyman and when the kids are old enough to start driving I’m sure we won’t ever see his head under the bonnet of their cars! Instead he’s an incredibly expressive Dad, who tells his kids he loves them every single day and is much more involved in the day to day minutiae of their lives than my Dad ever was.
The kids may not appreciate his passion for lasagna – I believe an unequivocal denial to eat another serve was issued last week while I was away! – and probably get way more leniency on the frequency of tuckshop lunch than is granted when I’m in charge, but I certainly appreciate his belief that he’s just as responsible for feeding them as I am, along with all the other thankless parenting tasks like making sure that homework gets done, everyone gets out the door in time for school in the morning, heads to bed at an appropriate time each night etc etc etc.
Stuart’s commitment to being a great and actively involved dad started from the moment Sascha was born, when he announced the immediate implementation of Super Sascha Saturday, where he was solely responsible for her each Saturday and I just had to turn up at appropriate times and locations to meet breastfeeding requirements. Always the opportunist, he quickly realised the external value proposition that created and I can clearly remember he and his mates heading off to the shops with baby Sascha in the pram, using the goodwill that their story of giving an exhausted new mother a break each Saturday morning generated to negotiate discounts on everything from new soccer boots to TV’s! Discounts aside, I certainly appreciated the opportunity to catch up on some rest (or some work, depending on how the week had panned out) and I loved seeing the close bond that Sascha and Stuart quickly formed as a result of this solo time together.
It also meant that if I had to travel for work there was never any distress about Mum being away and being left at home with Dad in charge, as it was something that both kids had known since the time they were born. Our children are better people for the close and loving relationship they have with their Dad, and I’m eternally grateful that the man I fell in love with back in 1998 has not only proved to be a great life and business partner but also a fantastic Dad. His ‘Holiday Dad’ persona is a great (and I’m sure the kids would say highly necessary) complement to my role as ‘The Enforcer’ in our family dynamic, and the kids are never in any doubt as to his deep and abiding love for them – even if at times they roll their eyes at his equally deep love of the family dress up!
In a glorious illustration of how our family works, none of us will actually see Stuart today on Father’s Day. Sam and I are in Brisbane, Stuart is in Indonesia, and while Sascha is in the same country she is enjoying a long overdue catch up with her best friend and Stuart’s under strict instructions to leave them undisturbed until the last possible moment to head to the airport. So today I’ll be thinking of both my Dad and Stuart, and while I’m not celebrating the day in person with either, today and every other day I’m deeply appreciative of them both and the role they’ve played in making their children who they are xxxxx