Sunday Pause: Sunday Pause on Father’s Day 6/18

Jun 18, 2023 | Newsletter, Sunday Pause Mailing

Since Father’s Day is a special holiday for us in Spokane, Washington, I wanted to share a few special facts with you before the personal IFS application. The very first Father’s Day celebration began in our little town thirty miles from Idaho on the third Sunday of June in 1910. Twenty-seven year old Sonora Smart Dodd, daughter of a single father of six children after their mother died in childbirth, was inspired to honor her father after attending a Mother’s Day church service the year prior.

Sonora convinced the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA to designate a June Sunday to celebrate fathers. She proposed June 5, her father’s birthday, but the ministers wanted more time after Mother’s Day to prepare their sermons. (Those must’ve been some meaty Father’s Day sermons!) Sonora delivered presents to disabled fathers and boys from the YMCA decorated lapels with red and white roses (for living and deceased fathers).

It took 62 years of lobbying for support until President Nixon finally declared in 1972 the third Sunday of June a federal holiday honoring fathers. (Mother’s Day had already been a federal holiday for 58 years.) Dodd, who died six years later at age 96 lived to see her dream come true.

Economists estimated that in 2021 Americans spent more than $1 billion on the 70 million fathers in the US. How was your contribution to the economy?!

In traditionally Catholic countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Latin America, Father’s Day is observed on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph (also our engagement anniversary in 1995!).

The Taiwanese celebrate Father’s Day on August 8—the eighth day of the eighth month—because the Mandarin Chinese word for eight sounds like the word for “Papa.”

In Thailand, Father’s Day is celebrated on former King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday, December 5.

How and when is Father’s Day celebrated in your country, if not mentioned here?

On Father’s Day, I’m reminded of a few things. Perhaps some will resonate with you, too.

  1. to remember all who father, and all who have fathered, biologically or not. Thank you, each of you, for all you’ve given your “children”. Being a dad is a hard and important job.
  2. to embrace the profound reality of multiplicity within each of us. Our dads inhabit a range of behaviors, responses, strengths and not so strengths.
  3. to ask the parts of us who are hurt, confused, sad about certain aspects of our fathers to relax a bit, to separate and give us some space so that we can interact with our fathers with a loving, open heart. These hurt ones don’t have to accompany us during our time together. They can rest somewhere else comfortably. Remind them we’ll be fine (likely better off without their company!).
  4. and for me personally, to acknowledge the positive, life-affirming aspects of my father that shaped me into who I am today. I can’t imagine who I would be without him. As a daughter, growing up with him as my dad was one of my greatest gifts and privileges. For this, I am eternally grateful.

Enjoy Bob Dylan singing “I Contain Multitudes“.

On Father’s Day, I’m reminded of a few things. Perhaps some will resonate with you, too.

Here are a few of mine—a list I know is undeserved and fortunate:

As a lifelong athlete, Dad taught me to water ski, snow ski, hike and camp, throw a frisbee, drive a stick shift and always back up slowly (which has saved me thousands of dollars btw!).

Dad entered me into my first 10K running race in 6th grade by encouraging me just to finish (even if I walked the whole way) and I’d win a trophy because I was the only 12 year old girl entered. He was right and I was inspired and we’ve run together ever since—from family fun runs to marathons around the world.

Ever the adventurer, we celebrated his 70th birthday (his idea!) hiking down the Grand Canyon and camping along the Colorado River for 2 nights. Dad still downhill skis (for free now as an 80+ skier) and descends the groomers faster than I do!

During my road bike racing career in the early aughts, Dad helped cheer and feed the team in numerous states, wearing our team flamingo-pink jersey and baseball cap that said “Ride like a Girl”. At the finish line at 7000 feet in Piños Altos, New Mexico, after a grueling day of climbing in the Tour of the Gila multi-day stage race, I crossed the line ready to collapse and yelled to him, my father who consistently embraces an athletic challenge, “THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!” He loved it.

Dad gave me an appreciation for travel, languages and dialects. Instead of rudely asking someone with an accent where they’re from (don’t do that!), he tells them how much he loves travel and languages and asks with genuine curiosity where they grew up—often opening up a lively, engaging conversation with a stranger.

As a mathematician, Dad taught me tricks for doing multiplication in my head, converting currency, figuring out a tip or determining how much the discount REALLY is. Growing up near Mexico and in my family of yard-sale regulars, Dad taught me how to shamelessly and confidently negotiate a good bargain, a skill my husband happily defers to whenever possible.

As a science teacher, Dad’s appreciation for geology, rocks, minerals, weather systems, elevation and a well ventilated house spilled over into my own fascination and love of the same. I never thought I, too, would travel with a thermometer and salvage animal bones found in the wild, but I do!

Dad pays attention to people. He’s genuinely curious about everyone he meets, can talk to anyone, remembers their names, makes notes and works to stay connected.

Multiplicity and internal family systems therapy helps me celebrate and cherish the parts of my father that shaped me, loved me and emboldened me. My father gave his only daughter an incredible gift of believing in her, celebrating her skills and abilities and simply who she was in this world.

Of course there’s always work to do and internal parts that need my care, but for today, these details help.

If you follow me on social media, you’ll find more videos and photos of tidbits like these.