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June 24, 2013

CUMMINS: Do fathers receive the credit they deserve?

In observance of Mother’s and Father’s Day, inequality exists. Mothers are adored; fathers, endured. Look at the publicity Eve and Mary received; Adam and Joseph were depicted as bystanders. That’s how I’ve felt at times during my long tenure as a patriarch. With Biblical training, I assumed a father was something like a shepherd. He carried a hooked staff and watched over his flock. If a sheep or a child went astray, he brought it back into the fold. I tried bringing them back, too, until some of my children and their children’s children moved far away. Why break away from a tight-knit flock with wolves lurking out there? Many times, I explained to them how I had been gnawed.

My great-grandfather started it all. He came from Germany in 1847, fought in the Civil War and then built the house that I was born and grew up in. Six generations and 166 years later, my great-grandson and his family moved to Germany. I Skyped him this past Father’s Day as I am adjusting to a global flock.

Mothers deserve honor on Mother’s Day, but children usually overdo it. Fathers witness this adoration when bouquets, chocolates and silk overflow. Fathers tag along to the brunch buffet where the mother is the center of attention. The father must listen as the mother explains in detail how she carried each child. And I’m not permitted to interject that during her pregnancies, I carried a heavy load, too. Who painted the nursery three times? Who drove the mother to the hospital, as she kept repeating “hurry” between moans?

Mother’s Day began in Grafton, W.V. in 1908 when Anna Jarvis formally honored her mother. The celebration spread and became highly commercialized by 1920. Today, children borrow money to honor their mothers. I cringe when I see crumpled wrapping paper accumulating at her tired feet. And then when we take her to brunch, my financial savvy son, who learned one thing from me, says, “Dad, you buy your own.”

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