President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day a national holiday in 1914. It wasn’t until fifty-eight years later, 1972, that President Richard Nixon proclaimed Father’s Day a national holiday. Not only was Nixon involved in Watergate, but he opened the flood gate of suffering!
And why are we men in pain? It’s not fair. Women have greater parenting skills by far. They deserve a Mother’s Day. We don’t deserve a Father’s Day. Our parenting skills are lousy. To honor us is a travesty. Who is it that card carrying members of the mafia call out for when they’re dying? Their mothers. When did you ever see a mafia movie in which the dying fellow cries out, “Papa, papa.”
Remember the movie where the wise guy is shot seventeen times while standing on the street corner minding his own business? (Now, that’s a “hit” man!) He could have chosen the easy way out and died of lead poisoning then and there, but no. He crawls the length of a city block. Then he crawls across a street where he’s lucky that he doesn’t get run over. It’s hard for even those of us who have taken the award-winning AARP Smart Driver course during National Safety Month to see someone crawling across a busy intersection. Then he crawls yet another city block. Then he pulls himself up the steps to a brownstone. Then he pushes the door open and drags himself up seven flights of stairs – this must be New York because there’s no elevator – and then he knocks at the bottom of an apartment door.
An elderly lady opens it. He says, “Mama, mama…”
She says, “Hush. First we eat then we talk.”
This is a fellow who appreciated his mother’s parenting skills, a man who never forgot a Mother’s Day. We men don’t have such skills. Most of us can’t cook. We forget our kids’ birthdays and recitals. We never learned how to kiss a booboo. We don’t deserve a Father’s Day. Sure, we’re listed on birth certificates as one of the parents, but it’s moms who do the real work. It’s also moms who are responsible for Father’s Day. They lobbied for it.
The reason for mom’s lobby goes like this. So long as Mother’s Day was the only official holiday (and not Father’s Day), we fathers had a viable answer to all of mom’s really tough questions. Questions like, “How come I always have to clean up the mess?” Or, “How come you never change a dirty diaper?” Or, “How come you’re always too busy?” Whenever moms asked such a question, we dads could answer, “Because you get a national holiday. I don’t. The country recognizes your superior parenting skills, not mine.”
And they’d answer, “Oh yeah, I forgot.” Sure they did. It took moms fifty-eight years of lobbying to gain federal approval for Father’s Day. Most people would have given up, but you know Mom. Anything to strike a blow for gender equality.
And now that there is a Father’s Day, not only are we dads supposed to clean up our share of messes, but our kids have to think of some present to give us, and we dads have to pretend that we like it. Sometimes we actually do.
I sort of like the T-shirt painted like a dark suit coat with a man’s tie drawn down the front. It’s clever. It combines the traditional Father’s Day gift, the tie, with the recognition that some men no longer wear shirts with collars. Also, whatever you spill or drop while eating, hopefully, will fall on the tie while the rest of the T-shirt stays clean. That way, come September moms won’t say we dads need to launder our Father’s Day gift. They’re used to gravy stains on our other ties.