Zaggy Father’s Day: The Zag and Zig of family celebrations

As a perpetual planner, I should have looked ahead to see the potential looming challenge that I would face. At age 16, however, when Mike and I met, I did not bother to do the research which would have clearly pointed out that my husband’s birthday and Father’s Day are back-to-back, occasionally falling on the same day. Today, it stresses me out!

MIKE: Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. I am super chill. I just like relaxing family time. She is all worried about buying gifts and making things a special occasion; but really, I am good with time and my love language is Acts of Service, not gifts.

My husband is one of those people for which it is a challenge to buy gifts. If I buy him clothes, he wants to know how much I paid because he loves a bargain, and he immediately grimaces at a high priced pair of jeans.

I don’t even try to buy electronics without him getting involved; he turns his nose if it does not meet his specs, even if I have done my own research.

One year, I tried to surprise him with a special night away for his birthday. He freaked out because he didn’t think I was capable of making arrangements to manage the kids’ schedules. While I, for the most part, agree with him, I called in the parents for reinforcements and we successfully tracked his e-schedule.

MIKE: Okay, let’s face it. My full-time job had been managing the house and kids. Each weekend I put together an excel spreadsheet of the kids’ activities to let my wife know where she needed to go and what the kids needed to bring. Forgive me if when she said, surprise, I am taking you away for a weekend, that I immediately went into panic mode. How did she tell my mother-in-law where to pick up our youngest from camp when my wife did not even know how to get to camp? But, she did figure it out. It was impressive…for that one weekend. I guess I don’t have to be such a control freak.

The thing for us is that life in a role reversal situation, where mom works and dad is the primary caregiver, means that Father’s Day takes on even more significance. I don’t dare buy him a new frying pan, vacuum or lawn mower. My husband does not want to golf on Father’s Day; he wants to hang with the family and do fun stuff like go to the zoo. I then feel the pressure to make sure the kids are “happy” for the day, and that we make sure he feels extra special for all he does for our family.

MIKE: Again, I am a pretty simple guy. She forgets that often. Happy kids are important though and that is a deal breaker for me.

I know, this is my issue, not Mike’s. It also is why this recent Forbes article caught my eye: Gender Stereotypes: The Roadblock To A Successful Father's Day Campaign. The author Christine Michel Carter, includes some great statistics and presents an interesting impact of “the girl effect,” the focus to empower girl’s self esteem. I am a big advocate of promoting women. The author suggests, however, that as we have focused on girl power, the needs of boys may have been ignored.

As a mother of two girls and two boys, I tell my daughters and sons that it is about building each other up regardless of gender. I tell the boys that being a man of integrity is about being confident enough not to feel threatened by another strong person. I also tell our girls that being a powerful women is about embracing who they are, setting boundaries (better than me) and finding the best in both genders.

MIKE: This has gone on from the time the kids were young. Pictures this. The four kids are in the van. My wife tells our daughters, then ages 10 and 8, that they are in control of their bodies and they can say no. She then turns to our sons, both under six years old, and says when a girls says no, they mean no. The two boys nod when she asks if they understand, but in reality they are dazed and too confused to even ask what she meant.

Happy Belated-Birthday to my husband and a very Happy Father’s Day! Actually, Happy Father's Day to all the men, including my husband, who have ignored the stereotypical expectations related to gender, and embraced being a parent. At times fatherhood may require playing catch, and a few minutes later wearing a princess crown to teddy bear tea. It also could be fixing the things that don’t work while at the same time, fixing the kid’s favorite meal.

As for being a planner, well, I am starting to embrace the chill, and here to help. If you have not gotten a Father’s Day card, it is not too late. ZagZig Parenting is offering a free e-card. Just click here to fill out the information and we will send it to your dad for you!

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© 2017 Kori Reed and Mike Becker. All Rights Reserved.  |  authors@reedimagine.com