Tag Archives: Father’s Day

A father comes in many guises

Father’s Day in Australia really isn’t a big deal in our house. Of course I’ll have my father to lunch if he isn’t playing bridge or golf with his mates or lunching with his wife of 61 years. Our children might phone in to say hi, but if they don’t, their father isn’t going to be cast into the doldrums feeling neglected. He knows he is loved.

I, like other women I know, have played father to my children. Whether it was because of long hours at work, divorce, or death there have been many times when I have had to play the traditional role of father as well as mother.

Sailing Days

A competitive father and disgruntled daughter

I have kicked the football, thrown the cricket ball, discussed dating and sex education and offered the ‘don’t drink and drive’ advice often to a withering scowl. I have learnt to communicate in grunts and lived with nocturnal teenagers.

Web-The-Craigs-1My husband was in the reverse situation of playing mother to three boys and a girl. He adores them all and is immensely proud of his brood of 7 children and 10.5 grandchildren.

Web-The-Craig-Boys-2

What do you mean I cannot raise my daughter like the boys? It worked for these three fellows.

He is the first to admit that bring up a girl in a family of boys was a challenge.  He isn’t the most demonstrative of men, (read that as hugging), but he can cook a mean brownie to take to the school rugby and is prepared to defend his daughter’s honour, even when she doesn’t want him to.

Whether you are a father or mother, being a parent is equal parts fun, hard work, lonely, terrifying and exhilarating. It isn’t a role for that can be discarded when you are tired, busy at work or disinterested. It is a job that demands everything of you, it is draining emotionally and physically and you should not expect devotion; that is for the dog. Affection must be earned.

You will never stop being a parent no matter how old you grow as my Grandmother told me when she was 100 and still worrying about her girls. My father at 90, is not above giving me advice, nor is he above competing with his grandchildren when he can.

Web-Sid-handstand

Showing off

Fatherhood is fun but the competitive nature of the man keeps coming out. He has to climb higher trees, do what his kids do and do it better. For some obscure reason lost in the Neanderthal mists, he continues to compete despite the handicaps that age eventually imposes on his body. I doubt if we women are any less good at accepting age gracefully.Web-Canberr-trip-1998-3-(1)

I trained as a midwife and thought I was prepared for motherhood, but nothing prepares you for that gut wrenchingly complicated feeling when you hold your baby for the first time. As their stepfather says, ‘If you thought too deeply about fatherhood, you mightn’t do it.’Bill with newborn Angus

As a father (and mother) I accept that we are to blame as we started it all. Yes, I realise that you blame me for your separation anxiety dating from when you were forced to leave the home that you and your mother shared but you had to make room for the others. My fatherly advice is ‘Get over it.’

This is our father’s day message to you, our children. You are the most awesome, overwhelmingly frustrating and challenging thing we do in our lives and you changed us and our lives from the moment you arrived. We have adored being a mother and a father however, there are some points that we hadn’t anticipated including:

  • Never having a moment of privacy again and no, you cannot always cross swords with me when I am having a pee!
  • If you want to share my bath you had better stop complaining that Chanel No 5 is too girlie. There is a perfectly good shower over there that you can have on your own,Version 2
  • Our dog appreciates the delicious well-balanced meals I cook every evening even if you don’t so if you don’t like what I’ve cooked, help yourself to cereal and milk,
  • No, I don’t eat cold toast because the butter doesn’t melt; my toast, like all my food is always cold by the time I have cut yours up,
  • Experiencing that feeling of rejection when even at 4 years old you let me know that you prefer the company of your friends to me,

    Bill playing with Angus on Main Beach

    A new take on dermabrasion

  • being prepared to look like a fool in public and being chased around the house wearing a hat made from newspaper shouting Ninja at the top of my voice, but why do I always have to be the baddie,
  • Never catching a fish off the beach again because I am untangling little people’s lines

    Beach fishing for Gus and Jemma

    What do you mean that I never catch a fish?

  • Feeling utterly desperate when you are lying in a hospital bed running a fever,
  • Being appalled at my wish for you to grow up so that we can talk as adults,
  • Knowing where to find a hairdresser when the home dye job turns green,
  • Wishing you hadn’t grown up because you are drinking too much of my whiskey,
  • Being impressed when you turn up with a replacement bottle,

    Andy teaching Sophie to tie a bow tie

    Its easier when I do it on myself

  • Being furious that you don’t share my opinion but delighted that you have an opinion,
  • Being enormously proud of your every achievement,
  • Being asked for advice on your love life, knowing that you probably won’t take it and realising that we are the same – human and fallible.Old memories 6

 

For our family, father’s day is just another day to talk with each other, toast our strengths and peculiarities and take pleasure in each other’s company.

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A Father’s influence

A brand new father

A brand new father

‘The pleasure of your company’ has always been my father’s response to questions about what he would like for father’s day. To him it is just another day to enjoy our company.

I grew up with the understanding that a person’s intellect was far more interesting and of value than what that person owned. Dad has never placed great value on possessions although he is certainly observant and notices any new jewelry my mother’s friends are wearing but he would be far more inclined to give Mum an interesting book that he would then read. Occasionally and probably to keep the peace and because he adores my mother, he succumbs to gentle persuasion and goes with her to the current favourite jeweler.

I didn’t get my sense of fashion from my father. It isn’t that he is disinterested in clothes but they are there for a purpose and there are more interesting things in life to consider. His desk is cluttered with books, journals, and articles that intrigue him with little room for irrelevant toys and his tools have to be functional. Even his choice of cars were chosen for a purpose: the enormous Studebaker that fitted his four girls across the bench seat, the Range Rover that carried us all onto the beach at Stradbroke Island to go fishing, and the Audi that fits his golf clubs.

Despite being a slightly built man, Dad has always kept himself fit. This is possibly one of his few  vanities. He has always run and swum, and passed on his love of exercise to his daughters. In fact I start feeling guilty if I slack off and don’t workout each day.  Now that he is older, he still insists on walking the dogs around the block and if it is raining I hear him on the exercise bike. I think his next challenge is to set up a running track beside the bike for the dogs to use in rainy weather. Dad has always played sport, whether it was rugby whilst at university, squash with his mates, tennis with his girls, sailing around Moreton Bay and of course his golf game. Sport is where he has allowed his highly competitive nature its release. There are still 89-year old men who talk about his prowess on the rugby field. Forget about letting his girls beat him at tennis, and if you surfed he would be delighted to take you out the back and wait for the longest largest wave back to shore. It was not that he expected you to follow his example, it just never occured to him that you wouldn’t. Now his grandsons play golf with him and boast of his ‘Hole in one’ effort. He laughs about this last achievement as he says he is so blind that he hadn’t realized the ball had gone in and he was wandering around on the green looking for it.

Dad is incredibly clever with a very retentive memory and loves nothing better than sitting having a discussion about current affairs through which he sprinkles remembered facts from past read information. You can try to contest his knowledge but rarely do we get the better of him. I love listening to my nephews challenge him on something they have studied and watch his eyes light up at new knowledge.

He has been a moderating influence in my life, gentle and wise. He is a man of few words so when he speaks we listen. When he says, ‘Susan, have you considered….’ I know I had better pause and have a second think. I still treasure the moment when he dropped by one day during a challenging period of my life and said ‘What ever you decide, I will back you.’ He has probably forgotten that moment from 20 years ago, but it has given me enormous strength throughout my life.

So at 89 years of age, the star of my life is still my father and on father’s day we will gather as many of the family around as possible, have a barbecue and toast our good fortune in having each other.Susie & her father