Life as a mom in America these days is pretty popular, in my opinion. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, there are so many challenges. Yes, there are many, many days when we do feel unappreciated or unnoticed. And yes, it can be super exhausting and overwhelming and can’t I just go to the bathroom alone PLEASE?! However, when people compliment children, often times the praise goes toward the mother. After all, doesn’t mom do a lot of the nurturing, educating and grooming?
Sometimes I do notice dads receiving praise for their fathering. Many of those times, though, are when they are doing something more in the “Mr. Mom” category. “You changed your baby’s diaper? What a good dad!” or “Wow, you cleaned the entire house? What a good husband!” Those things are definitely awesome and helpful, and my husband has done both on many occasions.
What I want to address today is when a dad is doing the more traditionally “father-type” roles, like working hard for his family or simply playing with his children.
Yesterday as I was driving, I saw a father walking with his young daughter as she skipped along holding his hand. A warm glow filled my heart, “Awww, what a good dad.” It happened almost automatically in my mind. Then I looked across the street and saw a male construction worker sweating in the humidity, and was struck that perhaps he’s a dad, too. Maybe what I was looking at is a dad also being a good dad albeit “behind the scenes.”
It’s wasn’t flashy, it wasn’t cute, it wasn’t social-media ready, BUT it was hard, raw work going on in front of me, and maybe I should have said “Awww, what a good dad” about him too.
My husband and I have four daughters, and they all have very special relationships with him, each one is very different. I took them aside separately this morning and “interviewed” them about daddy as part something I’m preparing for Father’s Day. When I asked each one of them what is their favorite thing about daddy, each girl said something about him playing with them. Our oldest and third daughters love to play basketball with my husband, while the second said she loves his tickles and when he takes her on a date to get donuts. Our youngest isn’t old enough to say it yet, but the way her face lights up when he picks her up says it all.
These girls love their dad, and I have to say, I really love him too. This morning, we made a list of our favorite things about daddy:
- He listens to us and cares about us. Our three year old said she loves when daddy asks her about her day. If the girls have an event that is important to them, he makes sure he is there. That speaks volumes to them about his priorities.
- He gets stuff done. My husband is an amazing problem-solver. If something in our home breaks or there’s an issue with one of the girls, he’s right on it. He’s the type that will actually look up how to do something himself and make 100% sure it’s done correctly. (This is one of the things I most admire about him and it inspires me as well.)
- He works hard, and plays hard. Once his work is done, my husband is our girls’ most exciting playmate. Ever read the book “Hop on Pop?” Well, I’ve seen that in person so many times. I’m the parent who prefers reading or quiet board games with my kids, while he’ll wear them out playing basketball outside or “tickle monster” in the family room. I GREATLY appreciate this while I’m trying to get the dinner dishes done or nurse the baby.
- He’s an amazing cook. I personally do most of the weekday cooking, but on the weekends when daddy cooks, our kitchen becomes a five-star restaurant. He’s a serious self-taught chef who amazes me by using no recipes and churning out incredible tasting meals and desserts. When I asked each daughter to name the best dishes daddy makes, they each said, “Salmon, steak, and CREME BRULEE!” (I concur with them.)
- He’s big and strong! These were my three year old’s words but as we talked more about it, I know what she means. (By the way, she thinks he’s 100 feet tall.) When we’re with daddy, we feel safe, protected. Our girls love superheroes and I think they see my husband as a mashup between Batman/Superman/The Hulk/Ironman. One thing I really appreciate about him, too, is that he is teaching them to be strong. He challenges them and really brings out their potential whether they are playing basketball or going over their math lessons. He encourages them to always do their best, especially when they start to doubt themselves. They know their dad believes in them, something that will help them immensely in their journey through life.
We love you Jean!!! Happy Father’s Day to you and all the fathers out there!
*I do understand that not all families look like ours. I know there are many single mothers (as well as single fathers), and today I applaud you for filling so many roles in your children’s lives. I also encourage you that if you need help, please seek assistance at a local church, synagogue or community organization or perhaps even a neighbor or friend. There are many programs like this available. Again, I am in awe of what you do. So, Happy Father’s Day to you as well!