Father’s Day is the Rodney Dangerfield of holidays.
Thanksgiving gets a parade, Mardi Gras gets beads and the Fourth of July gets fireworks.
Father’s Day gets a tie.
Maybe not so much in these COVID-19 work-from-home days, but you get the idea. A tie is tough to pair with grey sweatpants and a wrinkled white T-shirt.
Speaking as a father, becoming one continues to get heavy rotation on my greatest hits or moments in my life. From the day my son first wheeled by past me, his eyes wide open and as stoic as a sack of rooster potatoes to my daughter proudly announcing her arrival in the delivery room. Electricity could not jolt my soul more.
Being a father is not a biological exercise. Yes, science demands male and female elements fertilize. Genetic or not, being a father is about stepping up into a role versus making a biological connection. And the job description includes love, care and large quantities of caffeine.
“Don’t worry,” said the nurse changing our son’s first diaper. “They won’t break.”
His legs anchored in her right hand, her left hand slid a drink-sized coaster diaper below him. Her words did little to reassure me. I might as well have been wrestling an angry alligator with the shallow level of confidence I carried.
But guess what? Both our kids survived my significant shortcomings posing as a responsible adult. One time my wife and I played a tennis set before we realized we left our son sleeping in his car seat on top of a green electrical transformer box.
Or when my wife spotted me down the third-base line at a minor league baseball game, our daughter dangling upside down from my arm and me reaching out to catch a foul ball. I caught both the ball and a remprimand.
My wife carriers the mom gene. She instinctively knows what to say, when to say it and when to bring out love. She also knows when to bring down the hammer of discipline with a surgeon’s precision — swift, narrow, and tremendously effective.
Dads use two speeds — neither particularly useful — which are verreact or no reaction. Our hammer is more like a horse running around in a hospital, breaking things as it figures out a solution. And I broke a lot of gurneys.
But as humbling as being a father can be, I would not trade the ride for anything. The handwritten cards, the stuffed animals and the first attempt at cupcakes from an Easy-Bake Oven are all moments adding deep meaning to my life.
Both our kids are now adults. And remarkably, both are well-adjusted, mature and genuinely good people from the inside out. I would — and do — trust them with everything. Granted, most of the credit goes to their mom (May’s big holiday), but I like to think I might’ve had the tiniest bit of influence.
As for ties, both have exceptional taste. I’m sure the colors will match my T-shirt just fine.
Leonard Woolsey is president of Southern Newspapers Inc. and publisher of The Daily News in Galveston, Texas.