There is no comparison between Mother's Day and Father's Day--it's all in the cards and flowers and candy and jewelry and, ahhhh, neckties.
The moms get it. The dads get less.
More than $11 billion was spent this Mother's Day cards and gifts. Come June 21, a less beefy $8 billion will be spent on us fathers across America.
Although I must admit that I'm a bit jealous, as a man I understand. As a general rule, we aren't on the job like mothers are. We're either out of the house, earning a living or--in too many cases in modern America--just out of the house period.
But, there's something else that may be in play as well. Men aren't supposed to be as sentimental as women. If a spouse or a child misses a birthday or Father's Day, a man is expected to shake it off and stay in the game. Miss those special occasions with a mother and there will be guilt to pay. Who carried you for nine months? Who went through the excruciating pain of childbirth? Who wiped away your tears and kissed away your fears?
And if you were to show up on the nightly news after ax murdering the girl next door, who would be on the TV announcing with complete conviction that she knew her child could never have done such a heinous crime?
Besides all that, tradition also favors mom. Way back in 1914, Congress designated the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. It wasn't until 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father's Day and it was six years later before when President Richard Nixon signed it into law.
All that to say is that I get it when Joyce Owens my wife and the mother of my two sons, gets the holiday card and call that passed me by. It may even be partially my fault. When I noticed that both of us were being taken for granted by both our sons, I started quietly pulling them aside to remind them to be sure to call their mother, who they know and I know, did a great job and deserves to be appreciated for it. I secretly remind them to buy her cards. I'd quietly quiz them about their intentions on giving her gifts.
After my prompting them through a few special occasions, they've come to realize that father knows best and the cards and calls now come to their mother almost without fail.
So I was pleased when Scott Anderson, our older son, called his mother this morning for Mother's Day. After they'd talked for about half an hour, I got on the telephone to find out how his new job as a game developer at Kaos Studios in NYC was going and how he liked his new overpriced Manhattan mini-apartment.
We chatted for about 15 minutes with Joyce frequently interrupting my conversation with him to offer a few more motherly pearls of wisdom and love. Just when I was about to hang up, Scott said he had one more thing he'd like to tell us.
Six weeks ago, Scott and his friend, Steve Swink, presented at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco the early stages of the computer game, Shadow Physics, they've been working on in their spare time for the past year or so. After the presentation, Scott was interviewed about the dynamics of the game.
That interview, which was posted three weeks ago on YouTube, already has more than 101,000 views. That's not to play a game but to see Scott talk about his unfinished game. There are also more than 300 comments about the game or--to be more specific--the video of the game.
Here's one comment I particularly like: "this is really an all around amazing idea for a game...i would definitely pick this up if it became available. the whole concept is so abstract yet understandable and explores a whole new dimension of thinking and ability to adapt because nothing like this has ever been done before. amazing idea. 5 stars. this is going in my favs."
No, the comment is not from Scott's mother but from someone whose nickname is touRR30.
But Mother's Day or not, it was me with the swollen chest. Afterall it was me who brought the first PC into the house 23 years ago, when Scott was only three. It was me who bought him computer games and gave the preschooler unrestrained access to my $2000 machine. It was me who sent him off to computer camp at Stanford University when he was 13. It was me who enrolled him in a math camp at the Illinois Institute of Technology the summer his 14th birthday. It was me who arranged, when he was in the 9th grade, for a year-long apprenticeship with Ali at CompuServ Plus where he learned to build his own computer from scratch. And it was me who took him to the Chicago Internet Street Fair just as he was beginning his senior year in high school, which led an internship at cyberPIXIE where he first learned how to program for wireless devices.
I may have been MIA for the lion's share of the diaper changing, but I made my personal parental contributions and I'm seeing them pay off. So, while I may or may not get a call from Scott on Father's Day, all things being equal, this was a very good Mother's Day for me.
And should Shadow Physics get picked up by some big game distributor and should he become another one of those twenty-something Internet multi-millionaires, I won't be too disappointed if he fails to call me on Father's Day because he's too busy designing his next big hit--a new shiny red Porche in dear old dad's garage will do just fine.
(Here's the YouTube video of Shadow Physics.)