When Father's Day is Difficult
Updated: Jul 6, 2022
Fathers come in all shapes and sizes: biological fathers, adoptive fathers, fathers-in-law, step-fathers, single fathers, godfathers, grandfathers and father figures; you may have no father figure in your life, you may have more than one but, I believe that whatever the shape of your family, there will always be something and someone you can celebrate on Father’s Day.
I’m estranged from my biological father and so, prior to getting married, Father’s Day wasn’t really on my radar; in fact, I actively avoided anything to do with it; I felt very uncomfortable existing in the same world as the whole concept of the day.
However, on my wedding day, I became someone’s daughter all over again, in that I became a daughter-in-law and – luckily – I inherited a brilliant father-in-law, who has, from day one, welcomed me into his family with open arms. Father's Day still felt alien to me, but I found some comfort in seeing my husband use the day to show how grateful he was to have his Dad.
The year after we got married, my husband and I were expecting our first child, and so Father’s Day took on a new meaning for me again. As we anticipated the any-day-now arrival of our late-June baby, the day become not only a time to acknowledge the role my father-in-law had played in supporting our life and the choices we'd made as a couple, but also a chance to recognise my husband’s novel role as a prospective father too. Suddenly I was beginning to feel that Father's Day had the potential to be multi-faceted, and multi-representational; and a time for happiness, it wasn't just about one man who played a tiny part in my life.
By the time Father's Day came round again the following year, Mr Scrummie and I were officially parents to a nearly-one-year-old Little Miss and with that, Father's Day just didn't seem so daunting any more. Someone small and chubby-cheeked worshipped the ground her father walked on and it was seeing fatherhood through her eyes that shifted my focus.
Now, as a mum of two, I don’t even think of my ‘father’ on Father’s Day, and it’s no longer a day I feel awkward about; I take it as a chance to celebrate all the different types of fathers in my life, all the men I am eternally grateful to and for: my husband who is the father of my children and the man who made me a mummy, my father-in-law who has become the most loving grandfather to my children, my best friend and two of my husband’s best friends who together form an amazing trio of godfathers to both my children, and to all the people who, over the years, have been my 'dad’ and have sat through play performances, taken me to Charlie Chalk’s (anyone else remember those?); picked me up from school and let me picnic with their family on Prize-Giving Day.
So, whilst this blog comes to you with a reminder that many people find Father’s Day a difficult one (bereaved fathers, would-be fathers, putative fathers, those grieving the loss of a father) it also comes with the caveat that, as Dumbledore says "Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."
This Father’s Day, I urge you to celebrate all the father figures in your life, and encourage your children to too: celebrate the other playground dads, the dads on the cricket team, famous dads you admire, long-gone dads, donor dads, men who have chosen not to be dads, gay dads, trans dads – whatever the dad: celebrate, show gratitude and enjoy! I have found that life is too short to focus on the negatives, “latch on to the affirmative”.
Happy Father’s Day to everyone celebrating.