As a stay at home mom, I have memorized the happenings that take place outside. My large windows overlook a big section of the neighborhood, which makes people watching unavoidable. To one side there is a blue house with three dogs that run freely behind a metal fence. Their barking prevents me from opening the baby’s windows when she is napping. There’s a yellow duplex house with a cute older couple and possibly a second-generation family living next door. They have weekly barbecues together and there always seems to be something going on every weekend. On the other side, there’s a family with a cluttered back yard that includes chickens and a large white rabbit. One house that sticks out to me in particular is the house right next door. I am unsure who lives in this house because the company comes and goes, but I can be sure that there is a woman, a man and a few kids.
Throughout the day, I notice the mom or woman caregiver playing with the small children outside. Sometimes she is alone, other times she is accompanied by other women and more small children. The man spends a ridiculous amount of time fixing a car that appears to break down routinely. This family sticks out to me because I never see the man interact with the children. I don’t want to assume this man is the children’s father. He could be a relative or friend who rooms with the woman, or has extended his home, unselfishly, to the woman who needs a place to stay. Perhaps there is an agreement that he cares for the child during a certain time and his car mending time is off limits.
This is not about judging a man in a situation I know nothing about, but a reminder that there are families out there whose fathers do not participate in the daily functions of raising a child or children. Some fathers do not even bother to show up, or they make a presence but are not involved. It’s a devastating reality that continues to happen, even today. Fortunately, my family is not included in this statistic. I have a husband who is fully involved, and I am extremely grateful for that.
I don’t always give my husband the credit he deserves. I joke along with other mothers about my husband leaving his dirty laundry in random places, how his frustrations humor me when he is handling our fussy infant, and the fact that I know he’s lying when he say’s “They didn’t have it,” after returning from the grocery store. The truth is, I am blessed to have a partner that is an exceptionally amazing father. Not every mother has this luxury, so I understand how lucky I am.
Yes, half the time the house work doesn’t get done if I don’t do it and I am apparently the one who must keep inventory of the household supplies and groceries, but my husband doesn’t lack in his share of the responsibilities when it comes to caring for our daughter. If I am feeling overwhelmed I can count on him to take his part. He gladly steps in at 4 in the morning when I have spent almost 2 hours trying to get our baby back to sleep. He bathes her while I make dinner, and takes over when I schedule time aside for my book or blog. He occupies baby so that I can eat or shower. He takes over when my anxiety starts to kick in and he feeds her so that I can have a moment to myself. He does all of this without prodding and he does it without hesitation.
The love that my husband shows to our daughter is beautiful and it is incredible. As mothers today, we talk a lot about how fathers should not be receiving praise for being fathers. Realistically, however, it is relatively a new thing that fathers are more involved with their children. We are coming off the idea that genders play certain roles in the family household and fathers today are setting a new standard compared to how dads raised us when I was growing up. It is a tremendous difference and it’s setting great examples for future generations.
No, my husband being an active parent doesn’t make him a good father; it makes him a great father. His involvement in raising our daughter sets the bar for the type of relationships she accepts from the future men in her life. Being an active male role model sets an example for how she allows herself to be treated by members of the opposite sex. It also teaches her the importance of active participation in a child’s life. Whether she falls in love with a man or a woman, she is being raised in an environment where both members play an important, active role in the family. She should not accept anything less.
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