A Father's Journal: Getting worked up over holidays
On this last Mother's Day, my wife had to be someplace, so she got up early. I woke up later, showered and walked downstairs, stood outside my daughters' bedroom doors, and started shouting.
I knocked first, then opened both their doors so they could hear me, stood between the doors and let go. It started off as a motivational speech about what we were going to do for Mother's Day. But it quickly deteriorated into accusations and name-calling.
The main theme I was yelling was, "this is our Super Bowl. This was the day we need to all step up to the plate." I mixed up a lot of sports metaphors. I believe I even quoted Winston Churchill.
After I had quoted Churchill and said, "I don't care what stupid thing your mom wants to do, we are going to do it, and we'll do it with a smile." I heard my wife's voice from behind me. "I haven't left yet."
She had heard my rant, luckily for me, but not for my daughters. It was only half of my rant/motivational speech. After I watched her car go down the street. I started part two. My daughters complained bitterly about the tirade. So I showed them other motivational speeches available online via my phone. I played the speech from the movie about the 1980 hockey Olympic gold medal, and then capped it off with the beginning of "Patton" where George C. Scott stands in front of the flag and goes off about how to win a war. My youngest daughter challenged me on the Nazi part, and how it didn't have anything to do with Mother's Day. She might have won that part of the argument. It really didn't have anything to do with Mother's Day, but still on WWII, I ended with paraphrasing Churchill: "If the Lawlor family should last for a thousand years let them say this (our Mother's Day behavior) was our finest hour." (Spoiler alert: In retrospect, Mother's Day wasn't our finest hour.)
My daughter has pointed out numerous times after I ask for their "A" game that we, as a family, don't really have an "A" game. We have a decent "B" game that is equivalent to someone else's "C+" game. We also have a solid "C-" game.
I don't like Mother's Day, not really fond of Father's Day. Also, my birthday and Christmas are also on my list of Not Favorite Days. Thanksgiving is better, but there are still unrealistic expectations. There is so much pressure to have things "perfect" or "special" or even "civil."
My daughters feel it the most. In a six-week period during May and June, we have Mother's Day, Father's Day, my birthday, my wife's birthday and our anniversary. We have two down, three to go. By the time Fourth of July comes around, we are exhausted.
Growing up, there were no expectations about birthdays, as we never had a party. We were poor, we might have been Amish or one of those religions that don't believe in dancing or parties or maybe my parents were just cheap. I had eight brothers and sisters. My parents had 162 opportunities to have big birthday parties with guests, catering, djs, etc. Of those 162 opportunities, they only had one party, for my brother Tim when he turned 9. Out of 162, they had one. Amish families do better. I don't know how to throw parties or graciously accept parties that are thrown for me.
My wife, on the other hand, had half-birthday parties. Seriously, like 8 1/2. If my parents had half- or quarter-birthday parties we would have had parties every night. My Christmases were small. We got oranges and nuts in the stocking. Really, oranges and nuts. No freakin' candy. This is in the 1970s. I am pretty sure they had already invented candy. We got one present and some clothes. My wife had much bigger Christmases, and her family was Jewish.
I am unqualified to be leading celebrations. And I am starting to realize I am unqualified as a motivational speaker.
Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His "A Father's Journal" appears every other Friday. He can be reached by email at Tlawlor@mcommunications.com.