Brónagh Diamond: Here’s to the dads, the stepdads and everything in between

My family is so complex that I wish they made boxes of Father’s Day cards the same way that Christmas cards come

Brónagh Diamond

Brónagh Diamond

Brónagh Diamond is a writer and stand-up comedian from west Belfast. Her podcast ‘Word up’ is released every Saturday

Brónagh Diamond pictured with her Granda Jimmy
Brónagh Diamond pictured with her late Granda Jimmy, who was the central male role model in her younger years

There used to be an old joke when I was growing up.

Question: What’s the definition of confusion?

Answer: Father’s Day in Lenadoon.

I never thought it was funny, not because I found it offensive but because I was one of many children who didn’t live with their Daddy and there wasn’t any stigma among us kids about it.

As it says in the Bible: “He who is without a Da cast the first stone.” Perhaps that’s why we all threw stones at the Peelers to pass the time?

It was Father’s Day on Sunday, and a quick glance at any social media page will give you an insight into the mixed emotions surrounding this national holiday.

I enjoy reading the lovely posts where stories are shared in gratitude to father figures everywhere. I also enjoy the sly digs from mothers wishing themselves a happy Father’s Day in spite of the “useless sperm donor” they married running off with Sandra down the street. Fair play ladies, do your thing.

Although the idea of the nuclear family is still peddled as the ideal, it is no longer viewed by the masses as standard. Whether that is down to the dogmatic grip of the Church weakening (thank God), or our awakening to the fact that life is too short to spend its entirety with a person who no longer makes you laugh, is another question.

Back in 1990s Belfast there were myriad social and political reasons as to why there were so many absent Daddies in the council estates, but the collective view from us kids was simply to carry on swinging round the lamppost on a rope that hurt your backside shouting ‘Yer Ma’s yer Da!’.

The judgement came from adults, not the other children. There’s an inherited sense of shame when it comes to failed relationships that we as a society haven’t got over yet.

I myself only learned to drive after listening to two of my own children arguing on a bus over whose Daddy ‘knew a better short cut’. I still laugh about it now, though when I think of the wee woman trying not to spit her false teeth out while clutching her imaginary pearls.

As an adult I can look back on my childhood and feel privileged that I grew up as I did. After all, it’s election season, which is the most popular time to be a member of the proletariat – so much so that we get to witness the top-shelf, spirit-drinking Tories forcing beer down their refined palate to prove they’re just like us, all the while raising taxes on the working man’s preferred beverage while keeping brandy within their own budget to toast upon re-election.

Some of us experience the beauty of paternal relationships in unconventional ways. I am lucky to have my father in my life now along with a stepfather. The former instilled a love for poetry and folk music, while the latter taught me how to tie a hook on a fishing line and introduced an undying appreciation for the music of Pink Floyd.

Some of us experience the beauty of paternal relationships in unconventional ways (Alamy Stock Photo)

I love the fact that I can buy them both a present without feeling guilty because I take the same attitude as my godfather when I ask him whether he would choose The Beatles over The Rolling Stones: “Why should I choose when I get to have them both anyway?”

My late Granda Jimmy was the central male role model in my younger years, a hard working, joke-cracking, Mass-going, family man who gave the best bear hugs and taught me how to ride a bike despite the fact he put the handlebars on the wrong way round.

Regardless of how you’re fixed, I hope everyone enjoyed their Sunday. To the Das, the stepdads, the Mas who are Das and everything in between. Raising kids is the hardest job you’ll ever do, and as they say, ‘It takes a village’.

My family is so complex that I wish they made boxes of Father’s Day cards the same way Christmas cards come

When asked what he wanted for Father’s Day, my Granda would say “Sure it’s only a load of oul American capitalist tripe that’s made up to make people buy cards and rubbish”. He was absolutely right in my eyes, especially since my family is so complex that I wish they made boxes of Father’s Day cards the same way Christmas cards come.

I’ll still walk unabashedly to the shop to purchase five of them though, because I find it very hard to care what strangers think of me these days.

“Sure if they’re talking about me they’re leaving somebody else alone”.