I was going to start out by saying Bah Humbug, which is the way I start out every holiday. Then I was going to talk about how dads already get more credit than we're due when it comes to child-rearing, so there's no reason to set aside a whole day to celebrate us when we really deserve no more than a certificate of participation. That observation is not my intellectual property, by the way. The first stay-at-home dad I ever knew told me that people regularly commended him about how "brave" he was for doing a job that every woman is expected to excel at and for which she can expect no accolades unless she's a celebrity. And just the other night I was reading an essay by Michael Chabon that made the same point, but of course with exquisite lyrical tumidity. Indeed, it has been my experience that most folks, when they find out that I've been taking care of these little girls for the better part of the year and none of us has required hospitalization, are ready to nominate me for a Nobel Prize.
But I decided not to hate on Father's Day this year because the embarrassing ticker-tape parade as I walked through the farmer's market and the crashing servers due to all my emails and Facebook messages did not quite materialize.
In fact, I received more Facebook well-wishing on Mother's Day than I did today. But I'm not going to try to unpack that right now either, because I'm too full of ice cream, wine, and self-satisfaction. My wife made dinner tonight and I didn't even have to do the dishes, and that's exactly the amount of recognition I am comfortable with. It's a gesture that says, "Yes, you are the World's Best Dad, but don't expect a coffee mug."
And I'm pretty sure my own dad feels the same way. But I'm going to mention a couple things about him anyway, without making a big deal about it and embarrassing him.
For the nine years preceding that moment, I had been painstakingly clawing my way into my future in-laws' good graces, which was necessary since I was the first non-Vietnamese person to attempt to marry into their family, and I wasn't even a lawyer or engineer. I was on pretty solid ground with the nuclear family by that point, but the community of which my father-in-law was a pillar was certainly skeptical. But after that toast, I was golden. As far as the crowd was concerned, I was from the best of stock. And regardless of which lessons I did and did not learn from my dad, I couldn't agree with them more.