All across the country families will recognize their fathers, grandfathers, husbands and father figures this Sunday. At our house, we’ll probably have some kind of a nice dessert, grill some steaks, and open a present or two once Eddie gets home from work. This year, Father’s Day isn’t the focus of our weekend, because our oldest child, Bryce, is getting baptized on Saturday.

Father’s Day is always a lot more mellow at our house than Mother’s Day. Maybe I’m overgeneralizing, but based on my experience, Mother’s Day seems more emotionally charged, more fraught with potential disaster. There’s just so many places a guy can screw it up—the wrong food, the wrong flowers, the wrong sentiments. I know it sounds selfish to admit this, but on Mother’s Day, I want to get a break from the daily grind, a reprieve from making dinner and doing dishes. I like a little bit of recognition for the sacrifices I make the other 364 days of the year.

Even before our children are born, women’s bodies are a physical manifestation the sacrifices we make. But good fathers, the fathers we honor this Sunday, make sacrifices that often go unnoticed. Early in our married life, my husband, whose fellow med students often didn’t think further than the next dinner or the next vacation, had two children. When it came time to choose a place for residency and fellowship, he didn’t follow his classmates to the hotshot programs on the coasts. Instead, we chose places in the Midwest and South, with affordable starter homes and good public schools.

When I was a kid, we lived far from our extended family. When school ended in June, my mom packed up the minivan and made the circuit, stopping to see relatives in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee and Florida. Dad stayed behind, put on a suit each morning and took the train to the sweltering city. When we called to check in each night to tell him about swimming in the lake or going to the movies, he didn’t say, “Hey, that’s not fair.” On Saturday, when Bryce gets baptized, my dad, who used his vacation this year visiting his terminally-ill mother, will be home alone again. He encouraged my mom to come for the baptism, but staying home alone this Father’s Day is his sacrifice for his oldest grandson. Next week, when my mom and I load up another generation of kids to visit our far-flung family, Eddie will stay behind. He asked if we’d be gone for July 4th, and when I told him we would, I was a little bit afraid that he’d be disappointed. “Great, the holiday shifts at the hospital pay extra,” was his response. Maybe he doesn’t see it as sacrifice, but I do.

I was feeling a bit bad about the baptism overshadowing Father’s Day this year, but I guess I shouldn’t. While fatherhood often involves quiet sacrifice, this time the reward is in the child himself, in the boy he has become over the last eight years, and in the first step toward adulthood he takes as Eddie guides him into the water this Father’s Day Weekend.

June 14, 2008


  1. wesley's mom

    June 13, 2008

    Our daughter is also getting baptised this weekend.

    Like you I have been feeling a little disapointed for my husband. Dads don’t ever seem to get the same amount of celebration that mothers do. I doubt my husband has even given it a thought.

    I think my he would agree with you that seeing our children grow into the people they are becoming is reward enough.

  2. Dalene

    June 13, 2008

    Great post Shelah! What a great weekend for a baptism!

  3. Emily M.

    June 13, 2008

    Ah, you made me cry. I think I take the steady work of my husband and my father for granted–you’ve made me see them more clearly.

  4. Julie R.

    June 13, 2008

    Thanks for this–I’m preparing a talk this morning about fathers for Sacrament Meeting, and this was a great “appetizer,” if you will, before I jump in.

    My dad continues to sacrifice…he is building up vacation time so he can help his only single daughter (me) move next month. I often feel guilty for his sacrifice, but I know he didn’t think twice about it. It is humbling, and a good example to me for how I should live.

  5. FoxyJ

    June 13, 2008

    This weekend we’re celebrating my husband’s graduation with his second MA. He also works hard and sacrifices a lot fo us. I feel bad because we literally don’t have money to buy him anything special (we’re moving in a few weeks), but I found a fun new cupcake recipe to try 🙂 And our family members are coming, so I guess that’s good for a celebration.

  6. Wendy

    June 13, 2008

    This was good timing for me. While I am making a bit of a fuss for dh this weekend, I am not as grateful as I ought to be.

    Good grief, and I just realized I never did get my dad a father’s day card–Dang!!

  7. Jia

    June 13, 2008

    Great post! I think I might re-evaluate my plans for Father’s Day, and add in a little extra something special.

  8. Les

    June 13, 2008

    good thoughts shelah– I too have such great dads in my father and allen- they work so hard to make possible my efforts and priorities- Their sacrifices are often silent and probably aren’t praised enough– happy Baptism day to bryce

  9. nanajan

    June 13, 2008

    Great thoughts about the sacrifices of fathers. Thanks for a thoughtful post!

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