When Father’s Day is Complicated

What does Father’s Day mean to you? Perhaps it’s a celebration of someone special in your life. Or perhaps it’s a painful reminder of a relationship that isn’t what it should be, or a relationship that is no longer or a dream yet to be. And sometimes it’s just complicated.

My father passed away suddenly when I was 15 years old. I was in the throes of my rebellious teenage years and his sudden passing left too many things unsaid. Father’s Day can be a painful reminder.

And yet, fast forward to my present life and father’s day is an opportunity to celebrate the father of our kids. To celebrate his dedication, his love and his caring. So which one is it? Is Father’s Day a sad day or is it a day to celebrate how lucky our kids are to have a father who has their back always?

Perhaps its both, perhaps it’s a day filled with moments of beauty and joy and perhaps it’s a day that brings painful memories too. It’s not easy to hold the ‘and,’ to acknowledge that things can be two conflicting things simultaneously. Truthfully, life is filled with the ‘and.’ Life is filled with moments of beauty: a peaceful sun setting over the beach, the belly laugh of a young child, the news of a clean bill of health after a scare. And life has hard moments too: the ache of loneliness, the pain of unfulfilled dreams and loss, the fear of disappointment.

It’s the way G-d has made the world. Filled with both easy and hard; joy and sadness, beauty and pain. And sometimes different seasons in our life seem to be filled with more of the hard moments than others. It can be really hard to not let one crowd out the other. How do we see the good when life feels hard? How do we not let the hard moments crowd out the easier moments?

Perhaps it’s about learning to hold the ‘and.’ To acknowledge and make space for both contradictory emotions. To make space for the moments of joy and to hold space for the hard moments. When we acknowledge and make space for both, we can then choose where to direct our spotlight. Without denying or ignoring the difficult bits, we can still choose what we want to focus on. 

As G-d says to us: ‘I have placed before you life and death, blessing and curse: therefore choose life.’ Acknowledge all of life, the easy, the hard, the beauty the pain, then we choose what to direct our spotlight on. 

So yes, Father’s Day is complicated, as are many of our relationships and many parts of life. But what part of that complication will you focus on?

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