Happy Fathers Day!

Jun 17, 2014 by

I feel quite blessed in the father department, my dad is great! And he is still here for me to enjoy and that is a very sweet thing indeed. Fathers come in all different flavors, like ice cream! And mine is particularly sweet.

I have very fond memories of being a little kid with my dad and going to the hardware store with him, which at the time was a Big Deal. Not sure what we did at the hardware store but it must have been the Old School version of going to Home Depot. I am pretty sure this is a universal truth, a fixed point in the father archetype.  Dad’s will take their kids to the hardware store in 1975. And to Home Depot in the 2000’s.

It is a universal constant, like gravity.

No doubt three hundred years from now, dads all across the cosmos will be teleporting with their various offspring to the Hardware Quadrant in the Home Improvement Nebula. I hear that there is a massive planet-wide sale there on DYI hyperdrive systems.  (Everyone loves a sale, right?)

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away every Saturday for about a million years, my dad would drive an hour to take me and my sister to our horseback riding lessons. It was great to spend time in the car with him. Sometimes we would talk and sometimes not, but it was a constant in my childhood, something I could really count on.  (Ok it was probably only about ten years, but that is like a billion in child years, right?)

And that consistency meant something.  I meant that I could always count on my dad to be there.

Every summer, we spent a few weeks in August down on Martha’s Vineyard and some of my best  memories and experiences with my dad are from that time. We used to go clamming and hunting from quahogs. (Hard-shelled clams if you aren’t from New England, just so you know…) My dad taught us how to do it. You squish your feet around in the sandy mud until you feel something hard. Then you use a quahog rake to rake it up and you get either a rock (throw it back!) or a lovely fat quahog.

It was the best kind of treasure hunting ever. My dad had a wire mesh basket that would float on the water and we would fill it right up.  My little sister helped too, floating in her orange life preserver, her lips quivering and turning blue with the chill of long hours in the Atlantic Ocean backwaters of Katama Bay.  She would never cop to being cold, since it was so much fun!

Back at the house on Chappaquiddick, my dad would make the BEST baked stuffed quahogs in the entire universe, even better then that ones that you can get in the Home Improvement Nebula.

My dad taught me how to drive and could only joke when I totaled his car on a sad, sad day back in my youth. (He looked at the crumpled, brand spanking new Mercedes Benz and said, “Well, that’s the way the Mercedes bends…” Seriously.)

And that is the flavor of my dad, I am thinking chocolate ice cream, if I had to choose. Chocolate with jimmies in a cone from Gray’s Ice Cream in Tiverton RI, to be exact.

But as I said, Dads come in all kinds of flavors. The father is a powerful and primal archetype but it comes with many variations- all of them worthy of being recognized and honored.

There is the classic father whose role is to protect and provide, I think of the traditional image, a Mr. Cleaver type. These strong ones create the boundaries in our lives and teach us good moral character by leading through example. The highest expression of this archetype is the strong but loving father who demands the best from you, never letting you settle for less then you can be. These fathers direct us by giving us their approval when we do our best and can correct and motivate us with just a stern look when we fall short. And the worst thing that you can do is “disappoint” them. Yikes!  And somehow we know they love us anyways even when we inevitably do.

Perhaps you had a father that was warm and nurturing and showed you the power of unconditional love. Many fathers carry the nurturing energy that we think of as the typical “mother” energy and indeed these archetypes often transcend biogender. It could be that your dad was the “mother” of the house and if so, that is a beautiful thing too.

Maybe yours was highly creative or a genius, like a mad scientist and turned you on to the magic and wonder of the universe, through poetry, art, music or pure science.

Maybe your father was whimsical and scholarly. Or a rugged, bad-ass warrior type. Or a freedom loving rebel. Or a suit and tie, golf playing executive type.

There are critical fathers who create inside us the drive to achieve, for better or for worse.  Many highly accomplished people can back track their successes to this type of father.

And since each archetype has a light and a shadow side, we also have the absentee fathers, who for whatever reason fail to show up and leave a gap in our beings by their absence. They teach us a lot too, about being self reliant, independent, and self authorizing.  Perhaps all your father had to give you was the spark of life, the right DNA and the drive to find yourself due to his absence. And if so, then that was enough.

Luckily, we can find our needed father energy in many different places. Sometimes through another relative, a teacher, a coach or a friend of the family. And I know women (and even mothers) who carry father energy too. It’s impossible not to grieve the absent father, but there can be a balm for that missing piece of we pick up our heads and look around the world to find that energy somewhere else.

And truly each of our fathers are a mixed bag. They are light and shadow, brilliant and flawed, just as HUMAN as everyone else, despite the heavy burden we put on the shoulders to set the pattern of MAN for us. They are ordinary, extraordinary people, doing the best that they can with whatever they have.

No matter what flavor yours was, you had the right one and he simultaneously loved you and wounded you exactly rightly. As YOU will do too to your own children, if you are also a father.

I am one of those people who believe that our family structures are part of our soul contracts, and that we “pick” our parents up there in Soul World for the many gifts that they bestow on us. Some gifts are the light gifts of being loved the way that we needed to. And some are the shadow gifts, the gifts of absence, lack and the whammy we get when our well meaning parental units inevitably fall short of being perfect.

These gifts create the friction we need to become ourselves in this Universal Boot Camp called childhood. Each experience we have molds us to be exactly who we need to be to complete our life’s mission here and you can take that to the bank.

And if you are a parent, then you can rest peacefully on your laurels knowing that despite your nest efforts you are also screwing up your children in perfect divine order. Amen!

So let us honor our fathers today, who always loved us the best they could, and passed down all their gifts to us, bless them.

And I tip my hats to all you fathers out there who have taken on the daunting task of raising children. (Good thing that THEY made the begetting part of having children so gosh darn fun or none of us would ever have the courage to do it, I am quite certain.)  May you continue the circle, love your children as best as you can and cut yourself some slack for all the missing pieces too.

Truthfully, I think of all of parenting- no matter which side of this Great Circle of Life you are looking at- is all made much easier with a healthy dose of humor. Becoming a parent is all a huge part of the Cosmic Joke. It’s funny, sweet and heart wrenchingly poignant. And this is a joke that you share with your parents who felt the exact same way, raising you.

So Dad’s everywhere, once you are done napping, watching TV, mowing the lawn, doing laundry, whatever you are doing- take you offspring in hand and head on down to the Hardware Store. Go ahead- fulfill your destiny!

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