Or should I say, It’s Hard To Be A GOOD Dad.
We as moms get a lot of credit. When at the grocery store with all three of my kids, an elderly man or woman will often stare, smile, and say, “Good job, Mom!” At the doctor’s office with all my kids in the room, the doctor will offer, “You’re doing a great job, Mom!” When I tell people that I am a stay-at-home mom, people will always encourage, “That’s the hardest job there is.”
I agree. Being a mom is hard. It’s exhausting. It can be lonely and depleting. Sometimes I find myself having a pity party because I have nothing other than ‘Mom’ to define me. Even as a working mom, I struggled. The pressure of parenting always seems to fall on the shoulders of MOM.
But what about dads?
Earlier this year, at a wedding, I watched this darling little girl, about ten-years-old, walk over to see her dad and ask him to dance. The whole evening she’d spent in her mom’s lap. Cousins and uncles went up and tried to swoon her onto the dance floor. She was shy and with each suitor she’d just smile and cling a little tighter to her mom. Finally, around 10 o’clock, this sweet little girl walked across the ballroom to her dad, who had been sitting at his table, alone, the whole night. I watched her as she tip-toed and took a round-about way to get there, somehow working up the courage to talk to the man she calls dad. This sweet, beautiful girl asked her dad to dance. I imagine she was wanting to do that all night. So did they dance? Nope. That dad sat in his chair. No hug. No kiss. I pray he told her she looked pretty. That sweet young girl ended up back on the lap of her mom. No dance. No dad.
Is there some judgement laced in that story, probably. But my heart still broke for that little girl. Her definition of ‘Dad’ really sucks. I wonder how hard that man has worked at being a dad? (And that mom, by the way, deserves a “Good job, Mom!”).
At that wedding, as I have done on other occasions, I realize the best thing I ever did as a Mom to my kids was marry their father.
My husband, Tony, was always afraid to have a girl. He grew up with brothers. Girls were foreign to him. I, being the ultimate Daddy’s Girl, knew that he needed to have a girl. Almost more for the benefit of the little girl because there is truly nothing like a little girl and her daddy. As soon as Tony saw his baby girl, he was wrapped. I can’t imagine him EVER turning down an opportunity to dance.
Being a GOOD Dad takes courage. Where we as moms tend to feel the burden of nurturing our kids, dads more often have that burden of providing. Well, providing for comes with sacrifices. In order to make money so we can eat, have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and do all the extra-curriculars we love, someone has to make money. When Tony and I started our family, we both worked. 50-50, a real modern family. Change is the evidence of life, however, and two years ago we changed to 100-0. Talk about pressure!
I take him for granted. A lot. He works two full-time jobs and when he comes home I EXPECT him to help ME. Let’s be honest, I need A LOT of help! I don’t give him a pass on dishes, or on household chores. Weekly, he will walk in the door, I will pass off the baby and say, “Tag, you’re it.” Good Dads don’t take breaks.
This weekend our boys are running in a track meet. Today, due to a work conflict, my husband found out he will have to miss their meet. Our boys are six and four, it’s not like we’re expecting Olympic performances here. But it’s fun. Track is something our family loves. Will the boys notice daddy isn’t there? Yes. Will they remember five or ten years from now? No. There will be other track meets. Other competitions. Other important things where daddy will be present.
The sting, is that Daddy misses his kids. It’s a sacrifice, and truthfully he’s the one sacrificing as he has to miss something he really wants to see. He has to miss a moment of being Daddy because he’s being provider.
This world is filled with amazing parents. Good Moms and Good Dads. My purpose of this post is not to say that dads are better than moms, or that kids somehow suffer if they don’t have the “normal” nuclear family. Please believe me that I am not insinuating any of that. What I am saying is that BEING A PARENT IS HARD WORK. My dad described a parent as both a noun and a verb. We really need to start honoring those in our life who really work hard at doing this parenting thing.
As for me, today I am taking a moment to honor my husband. He is a GREAT dad. He wrestles, he does push-ups with three kids on his back, and he teaches boys how to wipe their own butts and pee standing up. He tells stories of Paint Man and falls asleep in their beds. He scolds. He says, “I love you.” He’s pretty amazing. I am thankful HE is how my kids will define ‘Dad.’
Please take a moment and honor someone in your life who is doing a pretty good job at this parenting thing!