A couple of weeks ago, my husband was quarantined with our youngest in the bedroom. Apparently we’re doing the ‘rona in stages. During that week I missed him terribly.
When he travels for work, I rally. I turn into power mom and get it all done. The kids are in bed with time to spare and dinner even gets stepped up a notch. But because that week he was home, only quarantined, I still felt a lingering expectation that he would do the dishes after the kids went down like he normally does.
Weeks like those make me realize how much of an equal partner he is in all of this kid rearing business.
Fathers are different these days than they were during our parents’ generation. They’re not the only ones bringing home the bacon and we’re not the only ones changing diapers. Beyond the daily tasks that they take on, they’re also more open to learning from and delighting in their children.
In many ways, fathers are simply parents. We expect them to love our children unconditionally, support them and guide them, and help with all of the endless to-do list involved in raising kids, just as moms do.
On the other hand, they’re men. And history is changing before our eyes. Our generation is shifting how fathers behave with their kids. Corporations now give fathers paternity leave because they share the burden of diaper changing and 2am feedings, and because they deserve a chance to bond with the baby just as much as the mama does.
And yet there’s still a ways to go.
Today’s post is a love letter to the modern father who is finding their way to be simply parents, not necessarily fathers.
One day maybe we won’t even have holidays specifically celebrating Mothers or Fathers rather days celebrating all Parents, regardless of their titles and pronouns.
But for now, as we live through the transition, let’s honor the dads who are changing the construct of parenthood by being present, open to learning from their kids how to be a better parent, and are willing to take on half of the load.
Here’s a poem I wrote to the dads we love. I’ll be posting a video version today on Instagram too.
Love Letter to the Modern Father
You sit at the basketball game dying to coach but are careful not to squash,
You doze with the baby on the couch but wake up for a 3am feed
You play games while dinner is being made and automatically do the dishes after,
You encourage them to try again but give a long hug when they just can’t,
You’re stern when needed but soften to console
You laugh when your child surprises you and when they’re angry you teach them how to talk it through.
You’re not afraid to show vulnerability but are unshakable in your desire to protect.
You encourage your child to ask and admit when you don’t know.
You’re a jungle gym to jump on and a cocoon to hide in.
You’re stern when boundaries need to be kept but flexible when rules need to be broken.
You let your child find their way but gently guide when needed.
You encourage your child to jump and hold your arms out if they need you to catch,
You strive to be a good dad and know that it often means being a good partner
You vow to be different from your father but also choose when to be the same,
We see you.
We know you’re changing history.
Need tips on how to rekindle the romance with your partner/modern father? Check out this post.
Know someone who’s celebrating a modern father this week? Send them this post and tell them to sign up for more goodies.