Happy Father’s Day, whether it’s happy or not.
Today we’re celebrating the 45th anniversary of Father’s Day as a bonafide and legal federal holiday, and as most parents will tell you, middle age imposes a special level of complexity on our lives. As more dads take to the web to share the joys and pressures of fatherhood with unprecedented honesty, it’s clear that the third Sunday in June evokes a broad spectrum of reaction — among those who are dads, those who have them, and those who miss them.
Happy Father’s Day to the dad who’s scored some couch time with the U.S. Open on, a newborn asleep on his chest, and both a beer and the remote within reach.
Happy Father’s Day to the dad who has been estranged by a vindictive former partner, or who panicked and ran, and who wants more than anything to re-enter his kids’ lives but can’t figure out how to start.
Happy Father’s Day to the dad who just hauled a carload of college stuff back home, where it will stay until his kid figures out the answer to “Now, what?”
Happy Father’s Day to the dad who interacts regularly with those who would assess his parenthood by the color of his skin.
Happy Father’s Day to the stepfather who has come to love his partner’s children as his own.
Happy Father’s Day to the dad who knows his marriage is over but thinks hanging on is the only way to stay in his kids’ lives.
Happy Father’s Day to everyone who never knew their father and cannot shake the sense that they missed out on something fundamental.
Happy Father’s Day to the man whom fatherhood has fulfilled in ways he could never have predicted, who can’t remember what his life was like before he had children and doesn’t want to try.
Happy Father’s Day to the single dad who has found the community he knows he couldn’t manage without.
Happy Father’s Day to the father of a child with special needs, who was dealt a type of parenthood he never bargained for and yet would not change a thing if he could.
Happy Father’s Day to the stay-at-home dad who tries to interact with moms and nannies on the playground and finds a brick wall.
Happy Father’s Day to the gay father who is resigned to spending the rest of his life fighting to love on his own terms.
Happy Father’s Day to the men who were berated, abused, or ignored by their fathers and are determined to break the cycle with their own kids.
Happy Father’s Day to the dad who was able to take Friday off and make grilled cheeses to celebrate the last day of Middle School.
Happy Father’s Day to the nonresidential dad who devotes every day to making sure his kids know he may have moved out, but he’s not going anywhere.
Happy Father’s Day to every dad in the passenger seat of a car going 75mph with his 15-year-old at the wheel, and every dad who’s spent the last few weeks peeing on floating Cheerios in the toilet.
Happy Father’s Day to anyone who buried their dad this year and hopes today won’t break their heart all over again.
Happy Father’s Day to all the father figures — grandfathers, uncles, childless brothers-in-law, coaches, editors, teachers, bosses, mentors, friends, (Romans), clergymen, and caregivers — whose charges won’t understand the impact of your encouragement for years to come.
And Happy Father’s Day to every dad with a story who is brave enough to share it.