Father’s Day holds all kinds of meanings and emotions for us as we reflect on our fathers, our experience of fatherhood and even the experience of those who have been father figures for us. To celebrate Father’s Day, we asked some of our ‘parish’ fathers to reflect on their experience of being a father over this last year.
Deepdene & Balwyn parishioner with three young children and parent at Our Lady of Good Counsel Primary School
The COVID pandemic has been difficult for everyone. For our young family, it’s been difficult helping my four and six year old’s understand the upheaval in their lives, no friends, no significant outings, cancelled holidays, and cancelled visits from overseas relatives. At home, home schooling has been a challenge, particularly for my wife, who has the added challenge of entertaining a four year old, and also raising a one year old. We’ve been fortunate to not have had any significant impact to my work situation, however, as a father it’s been important for me to remain mindful of my wife’s challenges and routinely schedule time out of my day to support her, but also support the kids with fun activities to break up the monotony of being stuck at home.
On the plus side, this has resulted in increased quality time with my children. Working from home, I get to be around to share breakfast with my children without the madness of the regular morning routine. We have lunch together, a lot more walks and scooter rides, and given my commute time is now zero, I’ve not missed a dinner and have been home to put all three kids to bed with a story every night. I’ve enjoyed these little things so much that I’ll be making working from home a more regular and planned part of my week, even when restrictions are lifted and we are able to return to the office. I think this is an ongoing challenge for fathers, ensuring we balance work and home life. It’s important to ensure we are able to carve out time to more actively support our wives and nurture our children. I think the school community and parish helps in this by bringing us together and keeping us grounded in what’s important.
Surrey Hills Wattle Park parishioner with three young adult sons, including Elliott who has provided a reflection on his father
During COVID-19 we have certainly been spending more time together! I think the time has enabled us to understand each other and accommodate the ‘quirks’ of each other more. We have the occasional outburst but generally everyone has got on. I have treasured seeing how my boys look out for themselves and each other and how they have coped so well with this ‘strange’ year. A challenge currently facing Dads is understanding the different pressures that our children face – an unsure future, society and the media showing young men in a poor light. Going for walks in my community and seeing people from the parish has been a support during this time and knowing they will be there for us if we need help. Not sure how the parish can help Dad’s further….
If there is one thing which has illustrated how great my father is during Lockdown 2.0, it’s his ability to manage his cacophony of professional responsibilities, an insurmountable number of volunteer roles, and the re-roofing of our house – all while stuck at home with three young adult sons, an equally busy partner and a dog (who admittedly is revelling in all the attention, walks and food scraps that come his way).
My father does this all, and he does it all well. I now understand why he buys the ‘jet fuel’ coffee beans – because he certainly needs all that energy! In all that he does, my father displays a level of focus and diligence which I hadn’t really appreciated before I was working in the same room as him. No stone gets unturned, and no job is left undone – with his trusty cavoodle, Jethro by his side, my father can do it all!
And how does this translate into how we’ll be doing Father’s Day this year? Well, hopefully everyone at home can do their bit to let our father take a break and lighten the load from everything that he does. I can predict us making the coffees for him as opposed to the other way around, and maybe we’ll let him get through one of his Netflix shows without being interrupted!
Certainly, lockdown has taught everyone in our family a lot about each other – but above all, we’ve learnt how much our father does for us, and how much we mean to him.
Camberwell parishioner with two teenage sons
Our experience of COVID-19 during these past six months is probably not much different to many other families, trying as best as possible to navigate a very serious and concerning situation affecting all of our lives in some way or another. We are extremely fortunate to be able to work and school from home, as has been the case for the boys, since around the middle of March. As a father, you want to keep everyone home and safe but at the same time knowing that life cannot simply come to a complete halt. For me, this became even more apparent in April when Christina had her accident, and I had to take over all the things that she would normally have done.
What I probably treasure the most about being a father is simply seeing the children grow into young individuals and gently guiding them into the young adults that they will eventually become; perhaps not as fast nor as quickly as the boys would prefer, of course! It has been a quiet joy to see the children become more compassionate, thoughtful and resilient as the world as they have always known it, changes around them. We have been delighted that Michael has taken to baking cakes and brownies for us over the last six months!
The challenges facing fathers at the moment are possibly not dissimilar from those of past generations, but given the current circumstances, trying to remain positive while at the same trying not to minimise the seriousness of the situation is itself quite challenging.
As the father of two boys, who we pray will grow into caring and thoughtful young men, we look to the parish community for positive role models that can help guide them over the years to come. We believe that being engaged within a parish community gives us and the children a strong sense of place, of belonging and of serving one another.