In any event, Father’s Day has come and gone and we had a fancy dinner, a visit with Maggi and Brian and I got a couple of nice presents and a chance to choose a ridiculously foolish dessert (Key Lime Pie) which neither Bonnie nor I should eat, but which was VERY yummy. Still, all this got me to thinking about being a father, so I thought I’d do a post on that, since I haven’t done one before.
There are many things to think about fatherhood. It’s wonderful, of course, but it can also be frustrating, annoying, aggravating and a heck of a lot of hard work (even if mothers usually do more of that work than fathers do). This cartoon from That A Baby got me to think back on the births of our girls and what an impact they and their aftermath made on my life.
It occurs to me that fathers are almost always the ones who are expected to be the stern, “hard-ass” parent. That could be because some of them are, but that really doesn’t conform to my observations of fathers, or, at least, fathers of daughters. Still, fathers are the subject of many expectations, not all of them accurate, or really nice. For example, it seems to be assumed that ALL fathers (perhaps all males) are (by definition) absolute masters of the charcoal grill, but completely inept in a kitchen, except for those few who have become chefs. It seems widely believed that the average man can’t cook worth a damn! Even the Father of Creation comes in for ridicule on this subject.
As we’ve gotten older (and since Bonnie was diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic), her (therefore our) diet has changed a good deal towards things which I have little experience preparing (and she’d rather have me do the cleaning up than the cooking most of the time, anyway). That’s been our deal since we were first married: whoever cooks, the other one cleans up. I’ll be the first to admit that that didn’t always work out due to my theatre schedule, but it’s not from a lack of trying when it was possible. It still isn’t.
AND, it’s not like I have never done any major, or serious, cooking for the family. I think it was the Christmas of 1976 (when I was doing my doctoral class work at UGA) Bonnie’s parents and brother were invited to drive down from Hendersonville, NC, to have Christmas dinner with us in Athens, GA. It turned into an “adventure” of sorts.
On Christmas Eve that year, Bonnie came down with what we referred to as “swamp fever.” I remember going out to the local hospital pharmacy to get the medication the doctor prescribed over the phone about ten o’clock that night because (probably understandably) there wasn’t a commercial pharmacy open that late on Xmas Eve. So, there we were. Major guests coming for Christmas dinner, the food bought, but completely unprepared, and the “cook” was too sick to get out of bed.
Well, Kate, who was our only child at that point and was three, took care of herself pretty well, but I had to prepare Christmas dinner: turkey, dressing, green beans, sweet potatoes, white potatoes (I think), gravy, rolls, and pumpkin pie (as I remember it); FOR MY IN-LAWS! Okay, some stuff, like the pie crust and the crescent rolls, were basically “pop them in the oven,” and the sweet potatoes MAY have come from a can, but I doubt that the white potatoes were from a box (I grew up on “real” mashed potatoes and learned how to make them from my mother). BUT, I cooked that turkey and I prepared the filling for the pie and I made the green beans (probably classic green bean casserole) and it all came out on time and was quite successful, if I do say so myself (which I do, thank you very much)! And, when our dinner group came to our house for appetizers a while back and, again, Bonnie wasn’t feeling well, I did all of that preparation, which wasn’t as hard as Christmas dinner, but one does have to work at it to impress that crowd.
All in all, I can do alright in the kitchen (I can do Southern fried chicken like nobody’s business), but fried chicken skin isn’t known to be the best thing for you and you just can’t get a really good crust without it and it’s just not the same without a crust…. Still, I’ve never had Bonnie say:
Don’t get me wrong, I neither regret becoming a father, nor making that deal with Bonnie. Being a father has been an experience I would have been sorry to miss. It hasn’t always been fun (like when Maggi almost died [twice] from an infected wisdom tooth shortly before final week, so I had to stay home to deal with finishing grading, etc., while Bonnie came to Omaha to help deal with Maggi’s hospitalization and recovery. Nor when Kate had a stroke (at age 35!; it CAN happen) during a snowstorm reaching from across NC (where I was driving home from a [shortened] meeting in Chapel Hill and they were closing roads down), along the eastern shore to well north of the D.C. area (where Kate and family live). The snow was so bad they only let me up the hill to Sylva because I had Subaru All-wheel drive. See the pic below of my car shortly after my arrival at home after my roughly nine-hour trip from Chapel Hill to Sylva, which was usually about four hours.
Still, there are moments where being a Dad is just funny.