I wrote a blog post around Mother’s Day where I encouraged us to, if nothing else, simply tell our moms “Thank you” because they brought us into this world. Without them, there would be no us. They carried us and nurtured us in ways large and small. Here’s my encouragement for Father’s Day. It’s another phrase that, if nothing else, we can speak to our fathers regardless of the current temperature of our relationships. Ready? Here it is: “I see you.”
Now that may sound completely insane to you, and there’s no way you can envision yourself saying that to your father. But just hear me out, okay? Where were our fathers when our mothers were carrying us literally inside their very bodies? They were off to the side, so to speak. They simply could not enter into that physical experience of carrying and delivering and nursing and all those other things that only a mother can do. During that season, even the most engaged and attentive fathers are still off to the side. They may not be able to articulate that, but deep down they know it.
Now, maybe after you were born your dad jumped in there, right in the middle of things and he’s stayed there ever since. If so, count yourself lucky. But more often than not, fathers remain just a bit removed from things. And as time passes there is a fear that grows within them. They may not be able to articulate this, but they’re afraid they’re becoming invisible and that in the end, they’ll be forgotten. How do I know this? Well, I’m a dad and that’s my fear. And that fear is shared by other men I talk with, men my age and older with children, men who still feel off to the side.
To look him in the eyes and say “I see you” might be one of the greatest gifts we can give our fathers. That doesn’t mean excusing him for sins of commission or omission. Trust me, he knows that if he’s honest. What it does mean is that you’re doing unto your father as you hope one day your sons and daughters will do unto you. It means you’re remembering him while he’s still here. Some fathers are monsters, I’ll grant you that. But most tried to love us as best they could from where they stood. Father’s Day is a chance to take note of that.