Mother’s Day was just a few days ago and judging by the greeting card companies, mothers equal flowers. Almost every card I looked at had flowers on it. And that’s fine, some moms like flowers. My mom does. I suppose it’s hard to summarize exactly what a mom is and what a mom does. My dad was always an alcoholic and lost his job when I was in high school. He never found another one.
He eventually left our home when I was 18 and I think I’ve seen him twice since then. It’s better this way. I suspect he’s still alive but I really am not sure. My point is that my mom raised me and my siblings pretty much on her own. Not only did she do all the things two parents typically share the responsibilities in, she also had to do all of that under the threat of an abusive spouse. It wasn’t easy living in our family for a long time.
As I get older I realize how hard life was for my mom, especially under those circumstances. She was, and still is, very strong. Despite how complex my relationship is with her (in both of my genders) I have nothing but love and respect for her. Knowing all this, and after experiencing everything she went through, a card and a bouquet of flowers doesn’t seem sufficient for everything she is, and for everything she did. As we move from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day I have similar thoughts when it comes to how men are portrayed and thought of. The greeting cards are already out and judging by what is on them, you’d think that fathers love nothing except grilling, fishing, and beer. And that’s fine, people can like those things. Father’s Day, as you can imagine, was a complicated day for me and my siblings. How (and why) would you “celebrate” such an abusive person? There’s not a greeting card for that. Well, unless you picked up one of the beer-themed ones.
I haven’t had to purchase a Father’s Day card or present in decades and again, it’s better this way. Greeting cards and suggested gifts are a window into how much of the world sees someone in a particular role. It’s almost a stereotype, an extreme exaggeration. In looking at anniversary cards you’d think the most romantic thing a husband can do for his wife is letting her have the remote control for the day.
Some t-girls are parents. For those of us who identify as anything besides cisgender, we may have clearly defined lines between our gender identities, our wardrobes, and our lives. I love my femme life, and I love my boy life. There is very little overlap. You also may be a parent, a dad, in your boy life. And yes, perhaps the greeting card companies are right, maybe you DO like to fish while having a beer. Maybe you are handy and a master steak griller or whatever. Please know I am not trivializing anyone’s hobbies, interests, or talents. I wish I were handy and could repair stuff. I can fix my eyeliner but I can’t fix a leaky faucet.
For those like us, we are more complex than any greeting card could ever guess. There are countless dads out there that would prefer a necklace over a necktie on Father’s Day. They love their kids AND they love a cute skirt. They love being a dad and they love strutting in stilettos. I can’t imagine Hallmark having a card for someone like us.
My point is that there is more to everyone than you could possibly imagine. My mom is stronger than any flower, some of Hannah’s friends are dads who are beautiful. Some of us have come out to others in our lives and have completely stunned them. So many of us keep this side of us a secret because it’s the last thing anyone would ever guess about them. If you are reading this, there’s likely a side of you that seemingly contradicts with how much of the world sees you. You might drive a big truck on your way to work at the construction site, but no one would imagine you have pink nails under your steel-toed work boots.
Father’s Day is a somewhat uncomfortable and awkward reminder of how much of the world sees MEN and what they think a MAN is and should be. I hate the world’s assumption that just because I present as a man most of the time that there’s nothing more to me than what they think a man IS and what a man SHOULD be. I have a much more interesting wardrobe than the shirt and tie my co-workers see me wear. So for the dads out there that are reading this, please know that although you may be getting a a new fishing pole or a greeting card with a grill on it next month, there are many like you who would also love a gift certificate for a manicure.