When I was in elementary school, the teachers had all the kids make cards for their dads on Father’s Day each year. I always made one. I just gave mine to my mom. It was our little joke. I used to tell her she was my two-for-one.
I’ve never met my dad. The short version is that he and my mom had a lovely summer fling and she got pregnant. She was 35 and he was 30. He was Jewish and she was not. Besides, he was still in law school and didn’t feel ready to be a dad. Luckily for me, she did.
To be honest, I never felt I missed out. We didn’t have much money but my mom was incredibly resourceful. We lived in a beautiful co-op with lots of other single mothers so I didn’t feel odd not having a dad. I had a carefree, loving childhood. I’ve even described it as “utopic.” But recently, seeing my husband with my one-year-old daughter, something shifted. I didn’t feel it when I had my son but something about my little girl with her dad nudged some question that had truly never come up for me before: how would my life have been different if I’d grown up with a dad?
I began to see that dads bring something totally different to their kids. I suddenly saw all my great male friends as magical fathers. Without taking anything away from my mom, for the first time, I began to see what I might have missed.
I decided to enroll my Echo team in creating a video about dads and their kids. It just so happens that my husband is Pete McCormack, Echo’s Video Director, which brought a meaningful dimension to the project. The video turned out to be a kind of social experiment. I wanted to bring fathers and their kids face to face with each other. I knew from the 200+ memoirs we’ve produced at Echo over the past 16 years that many people don’t feel they express their love well enough to the people close to them. I had a sense that many people also don’t ask from those same loved ones for affirmations they need to hear.
The video shoot itself was an intensely emotional experience. We had 17 pairs of people come in over the course of one day and we asked them all the same set of questions. We didn’t prepare them in advance at all. But we went deep right away and they went deep with us.
The result is powerful and it surprised the participants more than anyone.
Our Photo Editor, Jane Hope, came up with the hashtag #TellThemNow. Right away, I knew it was right. Our vision is that people will watch the video and be inspired to deepen their relationship with their dads. We’re hoping they’ll pick up the phone and call their dads, and then use the #TellThemNow hashtag to broadcast to the world why they’re grateful to their dad. So much in life goes unsaid and this short piece shows how vulnerability and gratitude can crack us open, in the best of ways.
As for me, I’ll celebrate Father’s Day the way I always have. By telling my mom how grateful I am for all she’s taught me and done for me. This year, I’ll add a #TellThemNow tweet too.