Father's Day: There are no do-overs

Opinion: Columns

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By John Hubbuch

I love the fantasy of the movie Groundhog Day. Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, an obnoxious, cynical TV weatherman covering a Feb. 2 morning in Pennsylvania where Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog, wakes up each year allegedly to look for his shadow. Phil Connors, on the other hand, keeps repeating the same Feb. 2 in a seemingly endless time loop until he finally gets what life is all about, and becomes a better person because he has the opportunity to live his life, or at least one day of it, over and over again.

As the grandfather of four young children I get the chance to observe my sons as fathers. I get the chance to spend a wonderful day each week taking care of young children. I have had the opportunity to assist my oldest son coach Lily and Ava in AYSO soccer, thereby realizing one of my bucket-list lifetime goals. 

Unlike Phil Connors, I don't get to live my life over again. But I do find myself doing the same things with my grandchildren that I did with my own children: changing diapers, feeding bottles, holding and comforting them, helping with homework, reading books, playing catch, watching Scooby Doo, catching bugs, pushing them in swings — the list goes on and on. So I'm doing the same things, but I am 40 years older now than when I first did them.

Inevitably the time warp juxtaposition of the two roles — father and grandfather — causes thought, if not insight about being a father. I tried really hard, but I could have been better. No doubt.

If, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, I could be a dad over again, I would have treated each of my children as individuals, recognizing more of their differences than their similarities. I would have tried to spend more time with them individually. We would have done a little more art and music, and maybe a little less soccer and basketball. I would have spent more time with my wife. We would have traveled more as a family. I probably wouldn't have taken all three boys, including 6-year-old Phil, to see Braveheart. I definitely wouldn't have taken their dare to put a spider in my mouth.

Most of all, I would have tried to slow those child-rearing days down. I have lots of great memories about those years, but alas with three sons, it was a rollicking blur that just rushed by. All those athletic practices and contests, movies, family meals, school drop-offs and pickups, sleepovers, Slurpees, hide-and-seeks, Olympic Days, read-alouds, parent-teacher conferences, baths and bedtimes have run together into a vast Mississippi of memory.

I would have tried to live in the fragile, precious present, holding onto the specialness of all those individual small moments. There is a bit of melancholy in all this, but then none of us get to be Phil Connors. 

So I am content to experience as a father the joy of watching my sons do a great job of fathering their children. For a dad, that is as good as it can be.

Celebrate this Father's Day. There won't be another one just like it.

Reader Comments

1 Comment - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Barbara Joan  

Posted: June 24th, 2017 11:32 AM

Fathers are very important and good Dads need to be celebrated.The breakdown of the family is our greatest social ill ... .https://www.facebook.com/LaurenCSouthern/videos/453915591655847/?autoplay_reason=all_page_organic_allowed&video_container_type=0&video_creator_product_type=2&app_id=2392950137&live_video_guests=0

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2018

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2018 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad