Monday, June 18, 2007

Fathers Day Gets No Respect

Yesterday was my first AverageFather'sDay, which is pretty cool in and of itself. With the best gift evar, AverageBaby, I couldn't have really asked for much more, but my wife and extended family made sure this was a memorable day. Even better, I finally got The Big Piece of Chicken. This was good, because if I were looking for some sort of significance from the rest of the world, I would surely feel assed out right now.

Here's why: because fathers get NO respect. None.

Mother's Day in the black community is like Christmas in May. At church, the women are greeted at the door with roses and chocolates. The praise and worship team sings that sappy Boys II Men number from Soul Food. Tears are shed. Negro Cuisine buffets nationwide are packed with diners. Gifts are exchanged. Radio stations take requests and air ode-to-my-Moms shout outs. Balloons float. Heck, even the dudes who hustle newspapers and donuts at the stoplights take the day off early. Everybody loves Mom.

Father's Day? Not so much.

Perhaps I didn't really notice this sorta thing in the past, because, well, I wasn't really paying attention. But now that I'm a father myself, and a darned good one if I must toot my own horn (and why shouldn't I?), it seems like Father's Day just doesn't carry the same cache.

Church was the basic service. There were no roses. The box of chocolates was non-existent. They did some hokey interpretive dance and made note of the day, but it was otherwise business as usual. The donut hustlers worked the corner with their usual sense of urgency. The parks were empty. Restaurant parking lots were barren. By all accounts, it was just another Sunday.

There are tons of reasons for this, not the least of which being the shortage of fathers in the black community. I'm not suggesting that things are as dire as those various statistics (men in jail, on the DL, babies born out of wedlock, etc.) indicate, but overall, it's fair to say that the black community as a whole doesn't place as high an emphasis on fathers as moms. Everybody has a mother, the truly fortunate have a dad as well. It is what it is.

I guess this just underscores the point of the holiday anyhow: to love and honor the fathers in your life. Watching that somewhat hokey interpretive dance in service yesterday, I thought about how much I missed my AverageDad, and how much it meant to me to have AverageBaby. I don't take fatherhood, or being a husband lightly. My family, at the end of the day, is all I have, and honestly, when you think about it, that's all you really need. So, forget what the world tells you about the crises of black fathers. Show appreciation for those around you and those to come.

And make sure they get The Big Piece of Chicken.

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