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  • Writer's pictureMaia Dunphy

The M Word: Fathers' Day

Updated: Oct 20, 2020

One of the most significant things about becoming a parent, is not the waves of unconditional love, nor the sleep deprivation, fundamental life or body changes. It’s that you can finally participate in the receiving of cards on Mother or Father’s Day.

Ah, Father’s Day. Invented some time in the 1980s by the people who brought us such celebrations as Children’s Dental Health Week, National Grapefruit Month and International Forgiveness Day.

I walked past a card stand in a newsagent’s this week and sweet Jesus, but every possible permutation and combination of male parentage is catered for this Father’s Day: Stepfather, You’re Like A Father, Grandfather, To My Two Dads, Uncle, Even Though You’re Not My Father (what a way to break the news), Godfather, To Dad From the Dog/Cat/Gerbil…. You name the relationship, there was a card for it.

We know we shouldn’t live our lives by the Hallmark calendar, but despite protestations of ‘what nonsense’ it is, if we’re lucky enough to have a Dad or father-figure in our lives, it’s lovely to have another excuse to remind them they are loved. Despite the shouty cynic in me, I would never miss it.

But it struck me that it’s a good opportunity to convey a not-so-subtle message. I had noticed other friends doing the same over the years (until children are old enough to start making cards out of dried pasta and the other fire-hazardous gifts made from loo rolls that must take pride of place on the mantel for years, the other parent is responsible for the cute cards and, more importantly, the messages within). In this way, Father’s Day can be seen as a parenting barometer. If you’re a new dad and you get a card written in cute, scrawled, fake baby writing saying “I love you Daddy”, you know your other half is happy with how things are going.

Alternatively, if Father’s Day sees you opening a card with “It makes me sad when you don’t feed me at night”, or “I am happy when you help Mummy”, then you may need to rethink things.

One of my male friends received a voucher for a manicure and pedicure in his first ever Father’s Day card, with a little note (clearly written by his wife’s left hand) saying: “Please give this to Mummy so I can spend some time with my Daddy”. His wife had barely had a break in the nine months since their daughter was born, and this was her (slightly passive aggressive) way of redressing the balance.

It worked though. She went for her mani-pedi, and he sulked for quite some time. But the following year, he received a novelty “Best Dad Ever” mug and his relief was extraordinary.

So I’m not suggesting for a minute that we should use Father’s Day cards to replace an important conversation that needs to be had, but equally, it might be easier for a baby to tell your partner that not unloading the dishwasher makes Mummy sad.

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