Sunday, September 4, 2011

Dad's The Word

It's Father's Day this weekend, a time when small humans wake their fathers with squeals, burnt toast and weak tea; and when older kids bond with Dad over a barbie and beer, later in the day.

I'm not visiting my own father, because I'm still laid up with the Dreaded Lurgy. No long drives and celebrations for Dad and I. Instead, I'm in bed, resting and taking loads of pills, and hopefully kicking pneumonia to the curb.

However, the kids and I have scheduled a trip to catch up with Dad and Mum in the upcoming school holidays instead.

The kids love a visit with Pa-Pa. Depending on the time of year, he always has fruit and veggies to plant and/or pick. It's particularly exciting if there are things like potatoes to be dug. Oh how C. and H. fight over who gets to dig and who gets to 'spot' the potatoes. And they they love to fight over how we're going to cook them.

Family traditions hey?

Dad and Mum have a fridge full of forbidden delights like fizzy drink and cordial, and a cupboard full of biscuits and chocolates.

Except that my kids don't really eat a lot of that kind of thing, and it puzzles my parents, who grew up when lollies and sweet drinks were a treat only for the very rich.

Why would C. and H. say no to cake, and ask for a piece of fruit from the garden instead? Am I passing my weird city veggie-rich, garlicky rabbit food ideas onto my children? Unforgiveable!

Dad was born and bred in Australia, but as he gets older, his German heritage is coming into play.

It's as if it's his life's mission to feed us up. Even me, who I can tell you, does not need feeding up in the slightest.

Hence, Miss 8's latest blackmail threat if I don't let her do something she wants, like adopt yet another small animal.

"I'll tell Pa-Pa you don't eat your meat," she says smugly. "And then he'll go all mad at you!"

That has me shivering in my boots, I tell you. Not. (Dad was never the disciplinarian when we were kids. It was Mum you had to watch out for!)

The kids themselves are with their own Dad this Father's Day. It's our second since my marriage broke-up, and it still seems a little strange to me.

Though I'm quite happily single, and I'm glad to be out of that relationship, I have to be honest: There's a part of me that misses playing happy families.

In the early days of our marriage, when things were magical, I remember spending hours painstakingly putting together photo collages of daddy-kiddy moments for their Dad for Father's Day. And when my Ex lost his own father, a few years later, I went through hundreds of photos putting together a photo frame featuring happy memories with his own Dad, himself, and the kids, so that he could look at the photos at any time he was feeling down.

That's all over now, but I know my Ex still has those photo frames, and the last time I was at his place, they were even on the wall.

It's these kinds of days that are weird when you're separated or divorced. It's days like these, that I wonder how we went from being caring and in love, to living in different homes and not being able to stand being in the same room together. But I'm sure, (fingers crossed), it will get better in time.

I want the kids to have a good relationship with their Dad, so when I last had them, we went shopping together and they chose a gift they both agreed on, which I paid for.  I'm no saint; It's just that my Ex is still the childrens' Dad, and they don't have much money of their own, and I wanted them to be able to give him a gift that was just from them.

We would have gotten cards too, but they made their own at school, which they were quite proud of.

On Father's and Mother's Day, my kids, okay 'our' kids, are proof that the relationship was not a waste, because how else could two wonderful small humans have come into this world? And that's a comfort I did not have when my first marriage ended.

But by the same token, I could move on completely and quickly after marriage number one hit the skids. Once property was divided, there was no reason to see each other again, so it was relatively painless.

However, divorce, whichever way you slice it, sucks.
It's even harder for single parents who do most or all of the parenting, or  those whose children have been abused or hurt by a parent or step-parent.

It's a time when they realise they're practically a father AND a mother, and they're not getting the recognition or help they deserve.

The whole depressing nightmare can feel even rougher for parents who feel their kids have been taken off them, and who have been prevented by law or by distance to be with their offspring on Father's/Mother's Day. Or to have them just for a few hours.

And that can be depressing. For some people, the pain is overwhelming.

So if you know a single parent, and or a child - big or small - that struggles with 'special days', make sure you reach out to them. Not just on Father's or Mother's Day, but whenever there's an anniversary or special time, or you just think they might be struggling.

It could be as simple as asking them over for dinner, or checking to ask: Are you Okay?  Or: RUOK? as the cool kids say it.

Maid In Australia is part of RUOK Day.

It's a day on Thursday, September 15, 2011, when Australians are encouraged to ask the people around them if they are okay.

And to listen, really listen, to the response.

The idea is that by sharing problems, we can stop little problems from becoming big ones.

I'd like to think that we would ask this question of anyone who seems down or depressed, whatever the date, but in the meantime, RUOK Day raises awareness that it's a simple question to ask, and it could save a life.

Click here to see Australian's own Hugh Jackman speak about RUOK Day.

I'm okay. Are you?
If you're feeling depressed, anxious, alone and/or suicidal or even just need to talk go to:


Unknown said...

Today was pretty rough. Probably more on me, than on the boys. But they don't tell me this stuff. They had presents for Grandpa, my dad and we had dinner with my parents, like we always do on a Sunday.

But I felt crap. Remember other Fathers Days, with all the family, BBQs and presents.

Only highlight today was having a chat with my next door neighbour, who invited my boys over to play with her boys.

Fathers Day begone...!

Thea said...

Really great post! xx

RachelMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

this is a useful article...