The end of the year always brings awards, and lists, and other honorifics. I was thinking about doing a Best Dads Of 2011 list, but when it comes down to it, those are usually comprised of celebrities or athletes or humanitarians, guys who do amazing things because – well, they’re sort of in a position to do amazing things. Case in point: pretty much everyone on this Father Of The Year Award list.
As a dad blogger, I’m constantly reading about “issues” that affect American dads. Moms give us funny looks when we take our kids to the playground! Marketers leave us out of TV ads! Sitcoms portray us as well-meaning but hapless buffoons! At the end of the day, all of this rolls off my back – and if you’re a dad reading this, I suspect that deep down, even if these so-called slights irritate you, you shrug and keep on keepin’ on. We have bigger things to worry about, after all; there’s only two people whose opinions I need to worry about. My kids. Society will just have to catch up. As for winning major Fatherhood Awards? Most of us will never be able to start a huge scholarship fund, or travel to Third World countries to feed hungry children, or launch sports camps for underprivileged teens. I’m not too concerned about this: every day, dads do the little things that affect change, as they have for generations. Accolades are nice, but they aren’t the point.
Still, there is a dad that deserves a shout-out. He’s the guy who right now is sleeping in a bunker somewhere outside Kandahar. He’s flying an F-18 somewhere over the Bering Sea. He’s hundreds of feet below the surface of the ocean, listening intently for a sonar contact. He’s on the bridge of a destroyer steaming through the Persian Gulf. This dad has seen 10 years of constant warfare, and has stood in harm’s way while his kids wait for him to come home. Perhaps he missed their high school graduation. Perhaps he missed their birth. This dad, he doesn’t care if there’s a “man aisle” at his latest grocery store. His idea of work-life balance is perhaps a bit different from most of ours. This Christmas, most of the dads who were serving in Iraq returned home to their families; with any luck, next year the dads in Afghanistan will be able to do the same. My pick for the 2011 Dad Of The Year — the military father, to whom we all owe so much.