Mother's Day: Fathers needed

You can’t have Mother’s Day without fathers, and children.  Too many fathers don’t stick around to pay due respect to the mothers of their children.  The Hallmark-card image of Dad and the kids bringing breakfast – sometimes cooked with lovable ineptitude – to Mom in bed is increasingly remote from the life experience of large sectors of the population today.

I was raised by a miracle-working single mom myself.  We were both acutely aware of the hardships caused by an absent father and husband.  We got through some tough times together, my mom, sister, and me.  It would have been easier with Dad around, no doubt about it.  To this day, twelve years after my mother passed away, I’m not sure how she kept a roof over our heads and food on the table with her meager salary.

All across the land, single moms are working such wonders for their kids.  Even when there’s enough money to take care of the family’s needs, the absence of a father is acutely felt.  Some of those little broken families never knew what it was like to have Dad around at all, because Mom was on her own before the child reached his or her first birthday.  We are now generations removed from the days when this was regarded as a rare hardship.

There are many reasons everything changed, and no easy solutions.  I often reflect on the wisdom that love is patient, love is kind.  We lose patience with each other too easily nowadays.  There are so many demands and ultimatums; so much selfishness.  The ideal of devotion is not widely embraced, or well understood.  

Young people have gotten it into their heads that it can be fun and fulfilling to become fathers and mothers long before they consider becoming husbands and wives.  Children can be had in college or soon thereafter, while marriage is something to be put off until careers are well under way.

How did that happen?  Why do so many people believe something so transparently false and ruinous?  Why are so many women eager to experiment with circumstances their mothers and grandmothers regarded as desperate extremes?

Men can learn a lot about patience, kindness, and devotion by watching mothers with their children.  Mother’s Day should be a day of thanks and happy celebration, and also a day of shared wisdom.

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