(Three of two posts about Father’s Day. Yes, I know. Math is not my strongest subject. Moving on…)
Tim was heading out the door for work.
I said my usual “Guys, say goodbye to Dad.”
“Bye Dad!” calls Gerry.
As the door shuts, Howie says “Oh good. I am glad Father’s Day is over.”
“Hey, Howie, don’t be mean,” I snapped. “We’re nice to everyone every day even when it isn’t Father’s Day.”
He was silent.
I continued to get the kids’ stuff ready for school but the statement kept rolling around in my head.
It just wasn’t sitting right with me.
Not his statement. Mine.
I sent some friends a message:
As Tim left this morning, Howie said “oh good. Father’s day is over.” At first I thought he was being mean. But maybe the pressure of father’s day is what made him so out of sorts yesterday? I know I was on edge.
I thought back on the whole day yesterday.
Howie up at 3:30am. Climbing into my bed and trying to climb under me.
Telling him when he woke up that it wasn’t nice to kick Dad out of bed on Father’s Day.
The strings of silly words and refusal to eat any food, only yogurts.
Reminding him to say “Happy Father’s Day” to Tim. Prompted three times before he said it.
Asking to go outside in his pajamas at 8:30am to go swing on the swings. Alone. For 25 minutes.
Telling him we had to be on our best behavior while at work with me with all the dads coming in for Father’s Day.
Playing solo at the sensory gym with his own game. Ignoring the other kids that he usually plays with.
Reminding him we were giving Dad space and alone time for Father’s Day so we were going to the store/farmer’s market/park.
Holding in a poop at the park because he wanted to stay there and not find a bathroom.
Telling him we couldn’t go back to the park after the bathroom because it was Father’s Day and we were going home to spend time with Dad.
My friend wrote back:
And it IS a lot of pressure… ‘it’s father’s day… be nice to dad, give dad a hug, we have to make x for dad…’ Whether it’s father’s day or a birthday or any other out of the ordinary day, it’s tough. I’m quite sure Howie was not being mean at all.
You would think at some point I would get this – truly get this – for Howie. Clearly, I had anxieties about Father’s Day. The split between wanting to make it special while also wanting to dive under the covers and hide. In an attempt to make it the best day ever for Tim and forget why it was the hardest day ever for me, I whisked my kids out of here for the day. Out of their routine, out of their house, and ultimately out of sorts. The whole time telling them it was in the name of Father’s Day. The exact opposite of what I was trying to accomplish.
And so in one short honest sentence, Howie snapped it all back into focus for me.
Not mean. Just the truth.
He wasn’t saying he wanted to be rude to Tim now that Father’s Day was over. He was saying that it was too hard yesterday to hold it all together to be over the top perfect.
The pressure that was too much for me was too much for him too.
We’re back to our version of normal today, Howie and I.
Someone remind of this next year.
“Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Pressure” – Under Pressure by David Bowie