Monday, November 9, 2009

Dearly Beloved? An Ideas Piece

We took Jack to a wedding this weekend.  We didn't really want to drag His Royal Snottiness with us, but for a lot of reasons the little skunk went along anyway.  About 5 minutes into the ceremony, I realized I was going to be THAT guy whose kid talks over the wedding video.  The Skipper kept fixating on two words, both appropriate to the circumstances:  BABUH [Bible] and DADA [Esteemed Father and Breadwinner].  In a church, with so many Bibles to prompt him, the former is understandable.  But Melanie and I worried that the latter would distract the groom.  I mean, one thing at a time, right?  When you're trying to get yourself married, fatherhood isn't exactly on your mind.  Unless you're this dude I know that got something worked out on the Honeymoon.  Yeah.

So I pulled Jack's card about 10 minutes into the formalities.  We went to an empty classroom and entertained ourselves with a rolling swivel chair, a plastic waste bin and 2 pew Bibles (BABUH!).  But before we walked out, the one thing I got to see was the father of the bride abruptly kidnapping the mic.  Now this sort of thing makes me terribly uncomfortable, as I wasn't sure if this was planned/authorized or not.  And for everyone involved, there's just tremendous possible downside with blood kin plus an open mic, memorialized on DVD for eternity.

The blessing was heartfelt.  That's for sure.  But let me run this one by you.  I'm paraphrasing the man, but this was the gist:  "A father's love can never match a mother's love.  It can never be as great."

I know what the guy was driving at. A wedding, like the Brandenburg Gate, is the place for soaring rhetoric.  But I wondered a lot about his statement.  And I wondered if other people wondered about it, too.  As it happened, on the drive to the reception, Majesty asked without my prompting, "So do you agree that a father's love can never be as great as a mother's love?"

We talked it over, and I distilled my position.  If both mother and father are willing to brutally kill for and die for a child, at that magnitude aren't we splitting hairs over who's love might be greater?  "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends*" (John 15:13, KJV).  Jesus gives no other seeding guidelines once you get into the Life Laying Down Madness tourney bracket.

Maybe it's unrelated, but I bristle at the fashionable, and oh-so-commonplace trashing of dads, and men in general.  At least at the societal level, we've generally accepted that dads are less involved, less loving, less committed, less communicative, less anything.  Moms are held up as the zenith of care and nurture.**

It's everywhere, even spilling over into our Bible class yesterday.  Men were (facetiously?) declared to be "too dumb" to be understanding (read:  loving) in their marriages.  The gals were quick to giggle at an axiom.  The guys were quick to chuckle and embrace it as a shield.  Think about it.  If one isn't physically capable, then one can avoid all blame for the inadequacy.  Johnny's a C-student, and is rewarded for a B.  Billy is an A-student, and is grounded for making the same B.  It's not about outcomes.  It's about expectations.  If men are, by definition, these silent, football watching, emotionally stunted, unloving slobs that respect no one but their HDTV provider, then women shouldn't waste time getting angry at them.

But for men, that's a cop-out.  And it's a lie.

One more thought on the motherlove versus fatherlove cage match.  Children react differently to each parent, usually depending on age.  Little ones love mommy like no other person in the universe.  And sons starting their own adult lives can find great wisdom and connection with their old dad, as they audition for the role of man, husband, and father.  These relationships are different, and from the child's perspective, they probably do favor mom.  But from the parent's side, I can't score which is more or less powerful, or loving.  And I can't accept being thrown under some assumed clich√©.

Am I off base here?

*I'm equating "friends" and "children" here, which is probably a safe jump.
 **This may do much to explain the single-mom as adequate craze, but that's another discussion.


Courtney Squillante said...

Love this post! These are great points, and I think that love is a blessing and wonderful no matter who is the "giver." You are right on!

Jennifer Reinsch said...

You have stepped up onto my soapbox. Welcome.

Did you guys maybe consider that the boy was actually exploring his spiritual side? At the ripe old age of 14ish months, he has already learned to speak Russian and was asking for you to give ("dai dai dai dai") him the Bible. He wanted to follow along with the scriptures being read so as to be better prepared for his future marriage.

Anonymous said...

I too love this post as I have been comtemplating these observations for many years, since my kids started getting older and have welcomed child-in-laws into our family. Both fatherlove and motherlove is indispensable, but I also see that closeness cycles according to necessity. As you continue on this journey, I think you'll see this.

Anonymous said...

Amen! Our roles and expectations as fathers has greatly been diminished by the dumbing down of fatherhood. I always have to smile (really deep inside I am laughing) when I hear a woman at work, church, or anywhere bash their husband for being all of those stereotypical things that man is known for nowadays like being dumb, stupid, non loving, non caring... I laugh only because you woman were dumb enough to enter into a relationship with such a slug.

Father love and mother love are very similar yet very different. Similar in that it is undying, fervent, faithful, protecting. Different in that as my son says "no mom, I dont want to wrestle with you silly, girls dont know how". Also different in that a 4 year old son can equate dad to things like a cartoon character. I never thought I would take my son calling me Handy Manny with such pride. I mean, that dude can fix anything! A sons admiration of his father should never go unnoticed and should never be ignored or watered down by good ol dad. As fathers let us be kind and patient, yet strong and solid (examples) for our wives and our children.

El Comodoro said...

Anon 8:48: Dude. You could have just emailed me this, and I wouldn't have had to type so much.

Applaud your use of "slug" as a descriptive term for a human.

Bravo, sir. Bravo.