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After visiting a friend’s blog, I discovered that I had completely forgotten Mother’s Day. I’m not a mother myself, and have no mother or maternal relations, so I often forget. But I think fathers are getting a raw deal.

Mother’s Day gets splashed all over the television, newspapers, and internet advertising like a second Christmas. You’re encouraged to buy jewelry, flowers, flashy cards, expensive dinner reservations, vacations, etc. But come Father’s Day, what do advertisements push? A lawnmower. A leafblower. A new golf club. What’s Dad likely to get? Some god-awful tie and a pair of socks or, if he’s lucky, a wrench set. And since Father’s Day comes about six weeks later, all the money seems to get sucked up by Mother’s Day and the Memorial Day binge that marks the beginning of summer.

What’s left for dear old Dad?

I don’t enjoy the commercialization of holidays but I do think it can be a useful indicator of our society, namely in that the level of commercialization is dependent on how important that holiday is rated. And Mother’s Day would blow Father’s Day right out of the water any day of the week. I’m not against mothers (please, how could anyone be?) but I think fathers are becoming more and more marginalized in our society. Their roles are considered expendable.

Movies, television, and commercials paint men as lust-hungry fools. And while, true, some men are lust-hungry fools, many are not. Nor are fathers’ roles quaint but expendable.

With relatively few restrictions, single mothers can draw thousands of dollars in local, state, and federal aid each year to supplement their household, in addition to receiving various other subsidies. Single fathers often can’t. Two people, of identical race, income, background, number of children, medical issues, etc., are judged unequally based on gender alone.

The man is expected to work and bring home a paycheck whether he is trying to raise children alone or not. With that check he is expected to pay the rent, or mortgage, and utility bills; keep food on the table; pay medical, dental, and optometry bills; provide suitable clothing, shoes, school supplies, etc.; pay for child care and or hire babysitters; make vehicle payments and provide for repairs, maintenance, and fuel costs; and, of course, pay his taxes.

The woman is expected to be a stay-at-home mother. In many cases, the state will help with or fully cover her mortgage or rent payments; pay part or all of her utility bills; provide hundreds of dollars in food stamps per child; provide full coverage for medical, dental, and optometry; pay for child care; provide transportation; and often supply her hundreds of dollars, per child, for other expenses. All tax-free, of course.

Though legislation surrounding it is slowly changing for the better, fathers are still often forgotten.

And on television sitcoms, it’s Dad who makes all the idiotic blunders, who is usually cast on a couch or behind a grill or clumsily fooling in a garage. Mom is Heroine Extraordinare while Dad is, at best, Bumbling Sidekick.

I’m all for Mother’s Day. I think parents are terribly overlooked and under-appreciated by their increasingly rude and selfish offspring in today’s world…

But don’t forget Dad.

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I hope you had a nice Memorial Day weekend.  For many it meant an extended visit with friends and family or at the very least another day away from work. But I just don’t like Memorial Day very much.  I think the parades and flag-waving and grave decorating are great, honestly, but I’d rather not see all those white crosses and stars-of-david.  I’d rather not read article after article about sacrifice and loss.

Call me squeamish, unpatriotic, weak…  It’s all true.  I am squeamish when it comes to seeing boys barely out of high school with their arms and legs blown off, with their bodies disfigured and their minds scarred and their futures questionable at best.  And I feel very unpatriotic when I see our government lying to its people, usurping power, perverting every ideal this nation originally stood for.  And I am weak.  I am tired and frayed and more heartsick than words can say. 

In every marker and memorial I see my grandfather, who helped liberate Auschwitz but would never bring himself to talk about it.  I see a man who, at eighty, still screamed in his sleep from dreams about what he saw and did in Italy and Germany.  I see a man who lost part of his hand in Korea; one who lost his best friend in Vietnam and never forgave himself for “letting him die”; another who will never use his right arm again and will walk with a limp for the rest of his life.  I hear it in a voice talking about her son and how she wishes she could have been with him in his last moments.  I feel it in a set of dog tags.

So wave your flags and enjoy your parades and forgive me if I would rather lose myself in work or change the channel or put away the newspaper.

Some are still trying to forget.

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