By Rob Burtt
I will never forget the birth of my first child. It’s not that the latter two births were less significant, it’s just that the first was such a surreal and sobering experience. I remember this 6 lb. 3 oz. little girl meeting the world for the first time. I recall having her bundled up little body placed into my arms and thinking “Wow, I’m a Dad.”
As she slept so soundly I studied every part of her perfect little face and tears streamed down my face. The words kept repeating over and over in my mind… ”I’m a Dad…I’m a Dad…I’m a Dad…holy crap…I’m a DAD!” At that moment, my brain turned to fear, uncertainty, and doubt. I mean this was a big time commitment that would only end at my death. Everything you could imagine flashed through my mind…poopy diapers, being thrown up on, teenage hormones, learning to drive, the first boyfriend, graduation, marriage, and grandkids. Admittedly, I was terrified. But I took some solace in thinking about my father and all the great memories I’d had with him.
Father’s Day was always a fond memory as I was growing up. My mother and I would always make him breakfast in bed. Even the times I made burnt toast, he would eat it with a smile. It was always assumed that this was Dad’s me time day, but it never worked out that way. We would throw the baseball around or go for a walk or work on something in his woodshop together. Mom would just go about her business and leave us alone.
There was always a nice dinner on Father’s Day. It was usually something Dad loved, and Mom and I would cook it for him. Well, Mom did whilst I pretended to help. After dinner, you would find my Dad laying on his side on the couch with me laying my head on a pillow behind his legs watching M.A.S.H. or a rerun of Star Trek. There was no talk of presents or the like either. But, I knew it was about honouring Dad in a very figurative way. Though there are years when we gave him Old Spice Aftershave. Years later I thought “How much Old Spice can one man use?” My father passed away of cancer when I was eighteen, but I know when he went he smelt good.
Many years later, after I had been a father for a few years, I remember being woken up to a small child carefully walking into our bedroom. She was holding a tray with a bowl of cereal, a cup of milk, some scrambled eggs, and a piece of overdone toast. Her smile was from ear to ear and she exclaimed “Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!”. She was so excited as was I. Her mother and her left me there so I could have some “me time” and enjoy my breakfast. As I bit into the burnt toast I thought of my father and shed a few tears.
The rest of the day was not taken up by peace and quiet but rather lots of together time. It didn’t seem much different from any other day, but I could tell too my daughter, it was special. We spent the day together. We went for a walk, to the park, played in the sprinkler, and watched a movie together. After a delicious dinner she took my hand and lead me into the living room where she presented me with a gift. I remember it was something handmade though my memory fails me as to what it was. However, I do recall how proud and excited she looked as she presented it to me.
My children are older now. My oldest daughter is sixteen with the next girl being twelve. The boy chimes in at ten. Father’s Day is still special for me. I still have breakfast and dinner made for me to which I always finish my plate with gratitude. I always tell them I don’t want gifts BUT if they do, I insist it is something they make. That’s why when you come to my home you will see painting, drawings, pottery, and handmade cards strewn throughout the place. I love everything they give me. I usually only have one demand on Father’s Day and that is we spend time together enjoying each other’s company, hopefully without bickering. I do have a teen and tween girl, after all.
A few years back, I was in a discussion with a group of friends about Father’s Day. They were talking about the many presents they had received like a watches, ties, or cologne. They boasted about getting away from their kids to go golfing, fishing, or head out some place to watch some sporting event together. One of my oldest friends was sitting to my right and noticed I was suspiciously quiet.
When there was a lull in the conversation he nudged me and asked me what was the greatest Father’s Day gift that I had ever received. I proceeded to pull out my phone and proudly show them some of the many works of art that my children had made for me. But I concluded by explaining to them that the greatest gift was I able to spend a whole day with them completely uninterrupted. I wasn’t trying to be flippant or arrogant. I was just sharing how I felt. There were a few nodding heads.
I guess I was trying to help them understand that time was fleeting. My oldest daughter has gone from being born to sixteen years old overnight and it’s not slowing down. And, my other two kids are no different. Time is still flying by and I can’t stop it. The homemade gifts will always be wonderful, but you can never get back precious moments when you can be free from other distractions and focus on being with your kids. That’s what Father’s Day is to me.
So…all you Dads out there, me time is always important. However, I hope this Father’s Day you think about the greatest gift that we can all have. After all, isn’t it about “time”?
I hope you have the best Father’s Day ever!
My name is Rob, single father of three amazing children residing in Alberta, Canada. My oldest girl is 15, going on 25. My middle girl is 11. And last but not least my boy is 9. Together, we form this thing called a family. We have a lot of great experiences together. Some good, some bad, some fun, some difficult. But, we stick it out. We learn from each other, and press forward. These three precious souls are my absolute reason for living. Nothing is more important. They provide me more happiness than I can possibly express. Find me at SingleDadsAreCool.com