I write these columns on Sundays, and right now my Facebook feed is filled with photos of smiling people with their dads because it’s Father’s Day. My first thought scrolling through was, “Awww, that’s nice.” And my second thought was, “Dammit.”

I know a LOT of people whose fathers are dead. And quite a few more whose fathers are absent, unkind, abusive or just plain sucky.

So this column is for you guys. I hope you all took yourselves to brunch and celebrated the fact you are thriving despite the dad card you were dealt and have a life filled with good things that you made happen on your own. Cheers to those of you who put yourselves through college, or learned to drive on your own, or resisted the misguided teachings you received and figured out how to lead and love in better ways.

Cheers to digging deep into the depths of your hearts and finding good things to remember about the fathers who disappointed. There’s always something good to find. Maybe he was smart or charming or a hard worker. It’s important to have a whole picture, to sift around and find the gold hidden in the dirt, because it’s there and it’s worth noting.

Here’s to finding compassion for the dads who fell short, because they’re fallible and human as we all are, and it’s easy to get trapped under mental health issues, and the pressures of being alive, and the seemingly unending cycle of poor parenting. And here’s to those of you who decided to stop that cycle and begin anew. It is never too late to turn over a new leaf.

Cheers to you young men out there who are starting your own families and are busy laughing and stacking Cheerios on your sleeping children (look it up) instead of stacking unreasonable expectations on them. Cheers to you women out there who’ve learned that your first example of what it is to be a man was dead wrong, and now expect better, because when you expect better, you get it.

Here’s to the dads being celebrated today, for showing the rest of us that there are good, kind, funny dads out there who took their responsibilities seriously and raised a generation of children who feel safe and loved and grateful. We all need to see your good example.

Here’s to all the mothers and grandmothers out there who picked up the slack and did both jobs, who taught their sons and daughters what it looks like to be independent and strong, how to stretch money and time, how to balance work and fun, how to be responsible and kind. There are so many of you, and you can call dibs on this day, too.

And for those of you out there who had neat dads and lost them too early, I send you love. I send you a big, fat, lung-crushing hug, and hope that you find solace in his legacy, which is you, and your big, loud, splashy, messy, wonderful life.

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