It’s Father’s Day, and that made me start thinking about Dads, and how I am similar and different two my two man Dad examples: My blood father, F.J. (“Joe”) Moran, and my father-in-law–who has all but adopted me, and who I love dearly–Carl Webb. And honestly, compared to them, I’m almost the Anti-Dad.
I grew up in a time when the whole Ward Cleaver, “Leave It To Beaver”, 50s suburban Dad-who-works-at-the-office and Mom-stays-home-wth-kids thing was still in firm control of national life. And indeed, my family was a lot like that until I hit about 13 or so. And in that context, Dad works at the office, he does chores around the home on the weekend, he plays golf with some buddies, he watches football, he carves the turkey at Thanksgiving. He fixes stuff when it breaks, like the car or the kitchen sink or that balky door to the upstairs bathroom. He mows the lawn. He paints the house. Etc. He is Dad, the 50s American Platonic Ideal of Dad.
I’m not like that guy at all.
I can’t fix dick; I’m a computer nerd, and despite my Pops’ best efforts, fixing anything more complicated than, say, a doorknob is really beyond me. Kitchen sink? Call the plumber. Car is busted? Off to the dealer!
But even more so, I’m not that guy. I don’t play golf. I mean, I learned, I know how, but ever since my Pops died in 2000, I haven’t played a single hole. I don’t get it, honestly. There’s so many other sports I’d rather do (if my body could take it), like soccer or ultimate or disc golf (which is like regular golf only in that involves walking around outdoors). I don’t get the fascination with the equipment, the shoes, the shirts, the clubs, the gizmos. I can’t imagine a more boring game to watch on TV; hell, curling is more exciting. I don’t get golf. In that component of Dad-dom, I’m a flop.
Then again, I don’t go into the office. I quit my job–not a leave absence, an actual resignation–so I could stay home and take care of Joseph for the first year after we adopted him. (Sami made more money than me at the time. In fact, in yet another nod to anti-Dad-dom, Sami has usually made more money than me.) I work from home. When the kids need to go to the dentist or the doctor or the therapist or their drama club or whatever, I usually am the one doing the lugging. I do the laundry. I grocery shop. When the house needs painting, I call a house painter.
And I refuse to mow the lawn. What is it with guys and riding mowers, anyway?
During our parenting, plenty of people have looked askance at how Sami and I have arranged things, divided up the work, the decisions we’ve made that are partly the reason I’m the anti-Dad. And yet somehow all the teachers at school tell us what a good job we’re doing, what great kids we have, what a delight they are. And even now at 18, Maggie doesn’t hate us and Joe is no more than usually surly for a 15 year old.
I may be the anti-Dad by “Leave It To Beaver” standards, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Just a thought from one Dad on Father’s Day.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll call my one remaining Pop and tell him I love him; he deserves it.