It almost seems odd to me now how much Father’s Day once had me in its grip after Arron died. The hole in our family glared in the Father’s Day spotlight. I spent those early Father’s Days on a NJ beach with a bunch of other 9/11 moms watching our kids play listlessly in the humid summer sunshine. We smiled wanly at each other, ate hotdogs grilled by other kid’s alive dads. Each time I asked myself what I was doing there.
On Father’s Day, I mourned for what my kids didn’t even know was missing. So basically, the day became all about me. I wanted recognition for the ghost role I played in my kid’s lives, some acknowledgement that I was somehow doing it all. I realize now how self centered being in grief is, which isn’t to say that’s a bad thing, it’s just part of the grieving process. But boy, being both a mom and a dad is a tough gig. A lopsided pancake seems well deserved.
The good news is that like all processes, you eventually move onto the next part of the process. This Father’s Day, I find myself in a sort of grief no-man’s land. Maybe after all that angst, there is finally a place where these events no longer have bite. In our household, Father’s Day passes without any fanfare. I no longer feel so acutely that which is missing. Our new normal has taken hold and we exist now without the need to mark the day. I no longer feel guilty for this as I have in past years, feeling that by not celebrating Father’s Day, we were somehow not honoring Arron.
I realize that this apathy extends to other holidays too, like Arron’s birthday, Christmas, kid’s birthdays, etc. We have stopped forcing ourselves to acknowledge Arron on specific days, and celebrate him when the mood strikes. When his name naturally comes up in conversation.
It’s also possible that my apathy for these things just runs in the family. When I call my dad on Father’s Day, he never fails with his “Oh! It’s Father’s Day?” We’re just not big celebrators I guess. My grandmother used to have an annual summer picnic every July called “The Big Birthday” that was meant to celebrate EVERYONE’S birthday at once and where we exchanged silly presents, (wax lips, silly glasses, dollar store toys). One big blowout. Only one event to organize. It worked.
So, all you moms-being-dads out there, get some silly glasses and have a big blowout Father’s Day and know that it does get easier. And know that despite the lack of misshapen pancakes, you are doing a great job!