It seems to me that while Mother’s Day is akin to the Super Bowl, Father’s Day is more like a junior high scrimmage. If you’re skeptical, just look at the statistics. Last year Americans spent $5.2 billion more celebrating mom than dad. Money talks, right?
I’ve got no beef with Mother’s Day. Being a mom is a tough job. Mothers deserve their “Hallmark holiday” replete with a family brunch and a non-household appliance gift. Expensive jewelry or a bouquet of a dozen red long-stemmed roses will do. But, whatever you do, you’d better not forget mom on Mother’s Day. Even if she might otherwise excuse the oversight, as soon as her girlfriends ask her what she got for Mother’s Day, you’re in deep trouble.
Compare this to Father’s Day. According to Wikipedia (the source of all history these days), dads did not get their own day until 1972, some 58 years after Mother’s Day was enshrined. What’s the most noteworthy stat about Father’s Day? Historically, it’s been the busiest day of the year for collect calls. In 2012, Father’s Day will likely set the record for the most text messages sent to dads from smartphone accounts paid for by dad.
In my view, dads get short shrift, while moms have been elevated to a status just below sainthood. In the interests of full disclosure, I never had any children, preferring to keep my lawyer nose to the grindstone. While some may view my childless status as a disqualifier, perhaps my non-mom hood gives me a unique ability to offer an objective perspective.
In the “Father Knows Best” era, the role expectations were clear. Dad was to bring home the bacon while mom was to raise three well-adjusted, adorable children. With the advent of “The Feminine Mystique,” traditional marital roles were upended. Mom was free to enter the workplace and dad rolled his sleeves up, cleaned toilets and ran the vacuum cleaner.
As a partner in a law firm for many years, I observed my male colleagues put in their 80-hour workweeks while trying to meet their wives’ expectations that they be home in time for dinner every night and turn down most, if not all, business trips.
It’s now understood that if son Jake is on the soccer team, dad is the team coach. When little Susie takes to the stage as the lead elf in the school play, dad must be in the audience. Is this work life balance?
Supporting kids is a very expensive proposition and, although many women now work outside the home, the primary burden of bringing home the paycheck typically falls on dad. My dad struggled valiantly to support five kids, including one born with severe brain damage. He became an expert at juggling dozens of credit cards and writing post-dated checks to cover the bills.
I’m sure many moms will take offense at my perspective. But consider this—dads are easy to please. All they really want on Father’s Day is to be excused from the honey-do list and be permitted to go to the golf course with their buddies where he can misbehave a little. Is that really too much to ask?