By Charles K. Poole
I don’t give a lot of thought to Father’s Day.
I’m not one (a father, that is), so there’s no connection there. And although I really didn’t have a chance to know my father (he died when I was very young), I never felt like I didn’t have a dad. I had a mama, instead, who simply and effectively handled both jobs.
I know there’s ongoing debate about whether a woman can do what’s considered a “man’s job,” but I don’t engage in such debates because I already know the answer, and I don’t care to spend valuable time trying to convince anyone to agree with my point of view. I appreciate that there’s a lot of passion behind movements to heal the wounds of current fatherless children, and adults who are only now dealing with the personal fallout of not having a father; yet I also know there are millions of people like me who have never felt the ache, sensed the loss or thought there was something we were missing out on because we didn’t have a “dad” around. That’s because our moms somehow figured out how to ensure that we didn’t.
As I consider my own upbringing this Father’s Day, I realize how effectively and subtly my own mama accomplished that feat. She taught me to be a good human being, how to face difficulty with grace and inspired by faith, and how to be humble without being weak. My mama taught me independence and wisdom, how to stand up for what I believed in and how to defend myself. As I matured she had all the talks with me that I suppose my dad would have, from what was happening to my body during puberty to what was happening to my mind when I began to question whether I wanted to remain true to what I knew was right for me, or fit in with my peers, who encouraged me to stray from the things that I’d been taught.
Mama was tough, tender and, somehow, able to anticipate everything that I needed and provide answers that showed just how tuned-in she was to what it took to transition from a boy to a man. I never questioned her ability to do it because I never felt like anyone else could do it better. That’s just the way it was.
It wasn’t until today, when I was asked about my thoughts about Father’s Day that I realized this. Now that I do, I’m of the same mind as I’ve always been. My dad was my mama, and I dare anyone to convince me that she didn’t do the job well. More than that, actually. She did a great job.
So this year — for the first time — let me say something to her that I should’ve been saying all along, including before she passed on in 1992: Happy Father’s Day, mama. You deserve it.