Why I Struggle with Father's Day

Why I Struggle with Father's Day

Erin Burt

We often--rightly so--bring up the struggles around Mother’s Day. We give an empathetic nod to those who have lost or have never had the child they hoped for. We recognize those struggling with the loss of their mother, their friend. I am aware of the unspoken complexity of Father’s Day too.

Right now, my father does not really speak to me.  

He’s not a bad man. And, no, I’m not defending him. He worked, literally, day and night to help make ends meet when we were growing up, always giving his all. And his best, overall, has always been good enough.

But we are different people. This became glaringly blatant this year when my life choices plowed up against his expectations of me as a woman and daughter. We have barely spoken in over a year. I received a birthday text and one for Mother’s Day too. So that’s…something.

But my dad struggles with his grief, over the ways I have let him down. And I am figuring out how to live in a world where the man who taught me what hard work, loyalty, compassion, love, dedication, and how to be a good husband and grandfather…is also a man who has let me down, deeply and drastically.  

Many have father problems, Father’s Day problems. Maybe your dad was great in his life and the pain comes now with him having passed. Perhaps it’s a relationship of passive abuse or aggressive cruelty with your father or your children’s father. Maybe he was literally and figuratively absent. It could be a nagging and underlying or obvious pain.

Or maybe you struggle like me. You are left in tearful but confident reflection in knowing your father is wonderful in many, many ways but also awfully flawed. You might be able to blame it on differing culture or a gap between your generation and his. Many of us experience a man who has many good moments but is also struggling with a particular demon that leaves him lacking.

So here I sit anticipating Father’s Day, reflecting on wonderful memories amidst the bittersweet conflict of pondering how to be the best daughter he deserves while living my life as mine to live.

For all those struggling on Father's Day. 

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