Happy Father’s Day! In time yore, the ultimate mother threat was, “Just wait till your father gets home.” Meant to instill terror in a child’s heart, it usually succeeded because father was that big scary person brought in to apply consequences when mother’s authority was undermined.
Thank God that has changed, at least in most families. To today’s child, the phrase instills pleasure instead of fear. I wonder how many fathers realize that anticipation of their homecoming is often the highlight of their children’s day. Don’t believe this? Okay, let’s explain it.
Wait till your father comes home means the security of knowing you have a father when half the kids in your class don’t. And it means knowing he will come home, when this is an uncertainty among your friends. It means you are special enough to make him want to come home to you. It means you are more important to him than all those other things he could be doing…drinking with his friends, working out, going to a baseball game without you, etc.
Wait till your father comes home means he will be home to answer your endless questions, especially the how’s and where’s and whys, as in, “How do butterflies know when to come out of the cocoon?” and “Where does the white go when the snow melts?” and “Why do I have to go?” As you get older and struggle with acne, then income tax forms, and maybe broken hearts or marriages, he’s still there to answer your questions.
Wait till your father comes home means relief from and for Mom who has run out of patience, energy and answers to, “Now what can I do?” Dad means dangling on the knee, wrestling on the floor, and working on the car together. It means a new parent to badger, and new gender to enjoy, and a new body to cuddle up next to when you’ve all run out of ideas and pep.
Wait till your father comes home means, sometimes, the delicious thought of being invited to a game, a workout, or a fishing trip with him, that wonderful “out with Dad” experience that most kids dream of but rarely get, especially if you’re a girl. Being out with Dad means being treated like a miniature grownup and it doesn’t end with the outing because you play it over and over in your mind for weeks, bragging to friends, “When my dad and I went…” and they listen with wistful envy.
Wait till your father comes home means, sometimes, a long wait, if he’s out of town on business, in the military on duty, or in the hospital with complications. You’re afraid he might forget what you look like because he becomes fuzzy to you but you know he won’t because dads don’t forget like kids do. Sometimes you think he’s never coming back but you know he will because he’s your father and he’ll bring you something, too. And he’ll say how big you’ve grown and how proud he is of you and you forgive him for being away.
Finally, wait till your father comes home means that when his big scary hairy body shrinks and wears out, and God calls him to live with Him in His eternal love, you know you have a special ally up there, rooting for you, because he always has. You know, deep down, death won’t stop him from loving you. And you come to know that you aren’t alone – God has been waiting for your father to come home , too.
Written by Dolores Curran, a mother of three children, who lives in Littleton, Colorado. The article was published on June 2, 1995 and sent to Eric Poerschke by his mother to wish him a Happy Father’s Day.