When is Fathers Day?
by Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC
I’d had about as much as I could handle for one day.
My computer was frozen, I was tired from a weekend with too little sleep, and I was working in a yard that would soon need a scythe to manage it. End-of-the-year school activities were crowding an already crowded schedule, and there seemed like no time to relax.
When do other people find the time to do all these things?
As I entered my house, I marveled at how sore a human body could get from yard work. I was still annoyed that my kids had left stuff in the backyard after repeated requests to pick them up. And, I’d been noticing that the rest of my family had done their share of relaxing while I toiled in the yard. Where was Fathers Day when I needed it?
I was not ready for any more to be put on my plate.
“Honey, will you make dinner?” my wife called from the family room.
A very angry voice appeared in my head, saying things to me which weren’t supportive of maintaining a kind, loving family. I considered a few suggestions from this voice, before discussing the dinner plans with my wife. It became clear from this discussion that my wife had her own issues going on.
I swallowed hard, and went into the kitchen to start dinner. The angry voices went with me. “That’s some gratitude for you!” I said to myself. “Does anyone notice how hard I’m working? I’m absolutely invisible!”
Where was the adoration for a job well done in the yard? Where was the back massage and cold drink that I was so deserving of? (The fantasies of a victim have no boundaries!).
In the drama that played out in my head, I was a hard-working father who did all the right things, and a victim of an unappreciative family. I felt completely justified in blaming my family for not acknowledging me. And of course, by blaming them I would spread the virus of blame around my family faster than a brush fire. I would feel “right,” and I could feel justified in seeing them as “wrong,” and as “blameworthy.”
Fortunately for me, there was no back massage and no cold drink. There was not even any acknowledgement for a job well done. There was only the realization that I had failed to remember my purpose in my family and on this earth. I had failed to remember that I am not “owed” love by my family. Our job as parents is to discover love as the fundamental fact of life. It is to bring this expression of our love into the world.
Parents across the world have reason to be grateful, for we’ve all embarked on the world’s most complete and intensive course on love. While we may resist it at times, we’re called every day to express the deep reservoir of love within us. But sometimes, because we’re busy blaming others, we miss the call completely.
Fathers go through periods when they feel “outside” of their family. They feel neglected, or they feel invisible. Or, they feel as though they’re simply a “paycheck.” But what’s really happened is they’ve forgotten they’re not on this planet to “get” love from their family members. They’re here to discover the boundless love that’s always been in them.
After catching myself in my “victim’s dungeon,” I began to climb my way out.
“Hey, have I got a great dinner cooked up for all of you,” I shouted.
And although the response wasn’t overwhelming, I didn’t even flinch.
Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches fathers by phone to balance their life and improve family
relationships — immediately! He is an Instructor for the Academy for Coaching Parents
(www.acpi.biz) and author of “Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers” Ecourse