Austin S. Camacho is the author of the fast-paced Hannibal Jones mystery series, starting with Blood and Bone (Echelon, 2006). His newest book, Successfully Marketing Your Novel in the 21st Century (Intrigue Publishing), was published in April. Visit Austin's web site at www.ascamacho.com.
Considering the name of this blog site and the holiday coming up in a couple of days, I kind of knew what I had to write about today. That was a little intimidating. After all, what’s left to say about Mother’s Day? But then my lovely wife Denise bailed me out, as she so often does, with this comment about this weekend’s special day:
“I don't mean to make it sound like I don't appreciate it, it’s just that sometimes the kids make me feel pretty unimportant in their lives and on this particular day it would be nice if they made an effort. Sounds pretty selfish I guess, but I think all moms want to feel special on Mother’s Day. Do you feel the same about Father's Day? Does it matter to you at all?”
Well, her question about Father's Day got me thinking. After a while I realized that at one time Father’s Day was very important to me. I remember wanting so badly for my little girls to realize how hard I worked at raising them. Not just the canoe trips or Disney World tickets, but the skinned knee tending, tolerating the slumber parties, the days I turned a blind eye to small misdemeanors and the nights I chased the bad boys away.
Of course, they never did appreciate all I did, not until years after I was finished doing all I could for them. And why should they? After all, my love was never unconditional, the way my wife's is. I criticized the goofy hair styles, crazy fashions and shady friends. She, God bless her, accepted them exactly as they were, and loved them for exactly who they were.
Today, I’m not really being a dad to those kids. They’re on their own, using the tools I gave them to build their own lives. The old dog has learned, and I no longer expect kids to appreciate the work I put into them. Besides, I'm not really a friend to them the way my wife is. I think maybe fathers can be friends or they can be teachers and caretakers. We men just don’t have the goods to be both at once. And I think that maybe, just maybe, that’s what makes mothers so special. You see, even the best of men can only be in one place at a time. Only your mother can lead you, stand beside you, and get behind you, all at the same time.
On the other hand, it seems to me that guys don’t care that much about getting gifts and such either. The only thing I'd really appreciate on a day like Father's Day would be for the kids to just call or come by and say thank you for trying and for caring what happens to them. The rest is form and artifice, like Christmas wrap and tinsel, which also mean very little to me. And I know that makes me a Scrooge and ruins it for everyone else, so I try to keep it to myself.
By the same token, Mom will make every flower, every card, every little gift bought with your allowance seem like solid gold and just what she was praying for. She’ll make you feel good just by appreciating your effort and a little thought. And I can’t say how much of that reaction is for your benefit, how much of it is tradition, and how much is Christmas wrap and tinsel.
But, just in case, no matter what else we do, we should all be sure to go to Mom on Sunday and say thank you for trying and for caring.
It’s a small price, I think, for unconditional love.