Fatherhood in the Foreground

This Sunday is Father’s day and as much as we try to include dads in the narrative around here, things usually end up sounding like ‘mom this and mom that’ . 😉 We try – but look we’re moms and that’s the perspective we write from. 😉 The truth is, Rhonda and I both have some great guys in our lives that father our own children and that have fathered us.

What makes someone a Father though? This past Saturday I took the kids to the Biloxi National Cemetery to visit the grave site of my Pawpaw and Mawmaw. If you are a regular reader or social media follower, you know that I lost both my maternal and paternal grandfathers this Spring.

My Pawpaw (my Dad’s father) served and retired from the United States Air Force, and it was his grave that we visited. It was emotional to me. Sophie is still too young to really grasp what we were doing, but I had to take the time to really explain to Cooper what was going on. He knew Pawpaw, but not intimately so it took some memory jogging. Thankfully, Coop remembers EVERYTHING so it wasn’t too hard. 😉

We talked about who Pawpaw was and what happened to him. We talked about death. We talked about soldiers and why they were all buried there together. We talked a lot about Pawpaw’s relationship to my Dad and to me…who he was to us.

That visit coupled with this year’s upcoming Father’s Day on Sunday, really made me start thinking about what is Fatherhood to me. About how the expected role of a father has changed from my Pawpaw’s generation. Fathers are being held more accountable for the actions and everyday involvement in their children’s lives.

We are seeing the days of ‘baby-sitter dads’ coming to an end. A guy who takes his kids places solo is slowly becoming something commonly seen and not such of an anomaly.

Being someone’s father should mean that you are giving just as much as their mother when it comes to taking care of your children – and not just financially. You shouldn’t get to just deposit money in your baby momma’s account and walk away until the time suits you to take care of your kids like you deposited your sperm inside her while she carried those babies for nine months. It’s a we thing. It’s a thing that took two people to make and should be a two person job for the rest of your life.

For me there is so much wrapped up in putting forth effort to break the stereotypes that my generation grew up under when it comes to so many things, but especially for gender roles. You can divide up household chores equally and so that each person is doing something best suited to their own personal skill-set and tolerance level: not their gender. However, you can’t and shouldn’t divide up parental duties.

I love to see dads making an effort and fighting to be a part of their children’s lives. Mainly, I just love seeing a dad do the things he is supposed to be doing without expecting extra praise because he changed someone’s diaper or handled getting their dinner on the table.

If life takes you physically away from your children, you can still put in that effort. If life has you working tons of hours so that you can financially provide for your children, you can still put in that effort. Find a way. Make a way – to be a father to your children.

I know so many men that are doing it right. They are standing up and just simply being a father. They aren’t just some background figure while mom shuffles the kids’ from place to place and wipes the kids’ noses and folds the kids’ laundry and makes the kids’ dinner and is giving the kids’ all their childhood memories.

You can’t make someone change. If your partner is not exhibiting the fatherhood behaviors that you’d like your child to see and emulate, it’s likely that you can’t change that – especially if they don’t want to change or see no need to change. However, you can speak your truth about what a father is. You can do your best to expose your children to other men who are doing the whole father thing right. You CAN refuse to excuse his behavior when he isn’t involved.

Don’t belittle him. Don’t be negative. Just don’t accept his unacceptable behavior, and turn it into a positive learning experience.

I want my son to know that a girl can do anything a boy can do, and I want him to know that he, as a boy, can do anything a girl can do. He can’t ever physically carry a baby while it develops in the womb, but there’s a whole heck of a lot he could do to ease that burden. Or you know, who knows? Maybe he’ll just have to emotionally support his partner because they’ve got a surrogate carrying their future child. Either way. I just want him to be involved from the beginning. I want him to know and see and demonstrate Fatherhood in the Foreground.