Have you seen the new Lysol wipes commercial where the mom comes home to dad & baby in a completely wrecked kitchen? Dad has a look on his face like he's so thankful she's finally home. He doesn't seem capable of dealing with the stress and chaos of watching a baby alone.
How many commercials or tv shows have you seen portraying the same thing? Some dumb, incompetent dad who can't seem to figure out how to put his shoes on the right feet, let alone watch or parent a child on their own. Or what about the children's books who don't even bother to mention the dad? I think it's a shame. Sure there are dads who aren't quite ready for the responsibility of parenting or there are absentee fathers, but I would argue that there are moms in those situations too. I just think it's time we applaud those dads who do step up, those dads who get it right.
Lewis can probably tell you about as much as I can about scheduling and routines, breastfeeding and natural childbirth because he was involved. He was interested. He was an active participant in the decision making and troubleshooting of my pregnancy, birth and newborn care.
Let's hear it for the dads who participate. The dads who don't shy away from conflict or discomfort. Let's hear it for the dads who actively engage in conversation and debate about important parenting decisions, who don't just sit back and let mom make all the choices. Let's hear it for the dads who are involved.
Lewis watched Isis alone less than 2 weeks after she was born so I could go to dinner with a friend who was doing her student teaching in Australia. We did it between feedings so he didn't have to feed her, but he did have to change a poopy diaper and manage a little night-time fussiness when I got home about 15 minutes after she was ready to eat. He has been watching her alone regularly ever since then.
Let's hear it for the dads who aren't scared of some poop. The dads who change diapers like a pro, who aren't scared of being alone with a newborn for long periods of time. Let's hear it for the dads who take the initiative to learn what they don't know about how to care for a child.
Lewis was responsible for taking Isis to the sitter last year and picking her up most days. More often than not, he was the one telling me what to feed her for dinner because he packed her lunch that morning and he knew what she had eaten all day. He was the one discussing her naps and telling the sitter what to do when she had a rough nap day because I wasn't available as an elementary teacher in the middle of the day. Most mornings, I didn't even see Isis before I left for school. Lewis got her up in the morning, fed her breakfast, packed her diaper bag with clothes, lunch, etc. He even took her to the doctor alone when I couldn't take off work.
Let's hear it for the dads who take on responsibilities that do interrupt their daily schedule sometimes. The dads who take the initiative to do those things themselves. The dads who aren't relying on mom to do extra the night before, but who actually do it themselves that day.
Lewis regularly cooks, cleans, bathes Isis, goes grocery shopping on his way home from work for her food, washes cloth diapers, picks out her clothes, vacuums our house, takes out the trash, mows the yard, gets up with Isis in the middle of the night if she's sick or teething, watches her an entire Saturday so I can go out with Diana, reads her stories at night, participates actively in discipline like time-out, investigates what foods she should be eating, the list just goes on and on. And I do the same things. I'm not saying he is exclusively responsible for all these things, but the point is that we are both partnering and actively participating in raising Isis.
The thing is, I know that my husband isn't the only dad doing this. And I think it's just really sad that American culture tends to dumb down dads and turn them into bumbling idiots who don't do anything but make jokes, roll around on the floor with the kids sometimes and grill out. In my experience, real men, real dads, are involved way beyond the fun stuff. Regularly. Daily. And there are way more of them out there doing this than America gives them credit for.
So if you have a dad like this in your life, I encourage you to do the same thing - write a blog post, write a note, write a letter, send them a card - just do something that lets them know that you see it and that you know that no matter what culture may say, there are some dads who get it right. Not even some, I'm sure there are many dads who are getting it right. And they deserve to be recognized.
Let's hear it for the dads!