Sean Harland Stats:
October 8, 2002

October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002

Recent Entries:
Ferry to Staten Island
Jackson and the Birthday Boy
Kate, Jack and Sean
Kicking back at Lunchtime
Kelli and Johnny got married!
Xander is Three!
The Sweet Singing Cowboy
Gavi turned one!

Powered by
Movable Type 2.0


June 16, 2002
Father's Day Revisited

from Father’s Day June 2001...

What is it we want from a father? Is it different over time? I know exactly what we want from a mother. We want a mother’s love. It is as simple as that. Her love. Motherly love. There is nothing else like it and nothing can be substituted. Some people seek a mother’s love in a bottle or a pill, sex with strangers and a million other ways. Through the centuries great and mediocre artists alike have sculpted, painted, paper-mached and otherwise assembled the image of Madonna and Child and the pieta (Madonna holding the dying Christ) in an effort to convey the importance of motherly love.

From a mother we want never ending support and encouragement. We want to be wept for, worried about, obsessed over and nagged to death. Just like mother Mary, we want our own mother to think that we are as special as the baby jesus and as spotless as the crucified messiah.

From the father we need something else.

Sticking with the biblical analogy, what did jesus get from his father? God put him to the task. He asked jesus to become the greatest sensation in the world and then let him be put to death. Somehow this sounds pretty par for the course when it comes to dear old dad. Sounds a little like the Joseph Jackson or Murray Wilson (Beach Boys) approach to parenting.

I think their respective prodigies, Michael Jackson and Brian Wilson, would agree, what we need from a father is approval. We want an endorsement from our father that our choices are rock solid.

Some of the most successful and yet unhappiest women and men I know are simply waiting for a father figure to slap them on the back and say, “Well done!” They may be waiting a long time.

Most addiction, self-mutilation, abuse and all those other, terrible things we do to ourselves (and those around us) can be traced back to the basic needs of love and approval. They are separate yet linked. You can have all the mother’s love in the world, but without someone to give you the push you need to get out of the womb and into the world you might just as well stay there.

In college I constantly found myself among people with missing fathers. Studying in a coffeehouse one afternoon with five other students, someone casually mentioned that his father had died when he was young. The table went silent and one by one we discovered that all of us had lost our fathers. We decided to create a “Dead Dads” club, as you can probably guess that was our first and last actual meeting. We all acknowledged that our loss had created a gaping hole in our life. Where this person should have been was an enormous black hole, a giant question mark.

It is not that a mother’s approval is guaranteed or easily won, or even that is not important. It is secondary to that of a father in the same way that the need for his love is secondary. Her love is primal. From birth, a baby instinctively cries for its mother’s arms because she is the source of nourishment, of comfort, of understanding. Next it seeks a father’s eyes for confirmation. These roles are not gender specific; these roles are not created by the mass media or a patriarchal society. This is basic primary and secondary caregiver studies thought up by the likes of Freud and Jung.

In our early years we want to be acknowledged by our father. We do cartwheels and headstands for him. We read whatever words we have recently learned. We draw pictures and get good grades. We want his time and attention, but mostly we want his focus. As we bob and weave on our journey, there is the look back to see if he is still watching. To make sure he is still paying attention.
Yes, I miss my father. I miss him so much it makes my bones ache and my head throb. An eleven-year-old wound that makes my heart hurt in any kind of weather. I miss the sound of his laughter and his terrible singing. But what could he give me now, what am I missing from a father that makes it different than just missing someone whom I once knew? What is the source of this pain? As go I through life I am constantly looking up to the stands to see if he is waving and cheering me along.

And what’s a young person to do with no father and no chance of clouds parting to reveal a big thumbs up to let her know she is doing okay? A brief session of therapy just after college led me to a ridiculously simple conclusion. You have to give it to yourself. And how many times have I seen The Wizard of Oz? I had to learn how to stop looking for it and just give myself permission to make huge decisions, to accomplish great things, to fail miserably and to find the time to acknowledge myself for doing all of these things. Susan, my wonderful though brief analyst, asked me point blank, “What are you waiting for?” To which I had no reply. “Well, if you are waiting for someone to tell you to get on with your life, to buy yourself a car, to change jobs or to do whatever you need to do next. I’m telling you right now, it all sounds good to me. So, get a move on.”

Posted by Molli at June 16, 2002 09:17 AM







greg's blog