Dads, Lately

Hey Dads. I haven’t been an astute observer of generation-after-generation for very long, but I’ve listened to my fair share of mothers and their mothers and their mothers, and can we talk about how gosh darn hard you have to work these days? Many of you get up when it’s still dark, and you roll out of bed and shower and try to tiptoe out of the house so the littles don’t wake up, and sometimes you grab a granola bar or something before you leave, because last time you made a hot breakfast of eggs and sausage the dishes were too loud when they hit the sink and your wife sent you a “Shush, don’t wake the baby!” text from the bedroom. And then you drive 20 minutes to the office, or the hospital, or the fire station, or the classroom and you brew some mediocre coffee and check your email, overflowing with names of people who need you for something. All urgent, of course.

You spend your day emailing and calling and scheduling meetings and then attending said meetings where you schedule another meeting to talk about scheduling more meetings, and then – poof – it’s lunch time. Your wife has texted you twice – (1) Can you pick up milk on the way home? and (2) Don’t be late; the Parsons are coming for dinner at 6 – and you realize you forgot to call your mom on her birthday last week. You call, apologizing between quick bites of break room bagels and then get a head start on your afternoon work load so you can jet home to your frenzied wife, who will undoubtedly pass the baby off to you the moment you walk in the door because (a) she’s exhausted and (b) she’s got to prep the lasagna for the Parsons.

You knock off the rest of your to do list in a fog and sneak out of the office by 5, forgetting the milk, then remembering the milk, then receiving another text from your wife in line at the grocery – Where are you? Garbage disposal is shot – help! – before you speed home just in time to see the Parsons’ car in the driveway and receive “The Look” from your wife while she passes the salt. After the Parsons leave, you’re on dish duty or bath duty – wife’s pick – and then you read a few bedtime stories, kiss a few cheeks and head back out to the kitchen to roll up your cuffs and fix the garbage disposal, quietly, so you don’t wake the kids.

Did I get it right? Are you as exhausted as it sounds?

Motherhood is hard, for sure, and stay-at-home parenting is no walk in the park. But man dads (and really, all working parents), you sure do pull out all the stops. Many of you are mowing the lawn and bathing the kids and making the money and the expectations just seem to be overflowing as quickly as the trash can that you take out every other Tuesday. You want to be a dad that’s present and engaged and loved and respected, so you clock in hour after hour with no complaints because society expects it now. It’s the norm.

It seems that dads are no longer coming home, pouring themselves a stiff drink and reading the afternoon paper. They’re cutting the chicken and coaching the soccer team and texting the boss from the cereal aisle. And Dads, we see it.

We’re watching as you landscape on the weekends while your friends are toasting on the golf greens. We’re hearing as you cheer from the sidelines while your inbox is piling up. We’re listening as you read Clifford for the 8th time in a row while you’re decompressing from the day’s events.

We see you and we hear you, and we appreciate you. Here’s wishing you a weekend of sleeping in, hot bacon and whatever the heck you want to do with your time. Pour that drink. Read that paper. Golf those greens. You deserve it.

(Can you pick up milk on the way home?)

  • I get this. I respect this. But there are times, as a full-time-job mom, that I wish I could be the one to get my exercise in right after work, walk in the door to dinner and a drink, and watch TV for a while rather than pick up the baby, feed the baby, make the dinner, put the baby to bed then catch up on chores. But that’s my own home-life issues. And I know there are dads who have exactly this level of pressure and expectation to work all day and come home to work more. So cheers to all of us!

    And darnit Erin, why do you make me think about this deep stuff?? = )

    • Ohhhh cheers to all of us indeed. I didn’t at all intend to say that stay-at-home moms, or moms in general have it easy. It’s a tough world out there, whether you’re reasoning with not-yet-rational toddlers in the home or should-be-rational adults in the workplace. ;) And good gracious, the chores don’t end, do they? I’m just grateful we don’t have to sew our own clothes and catch our own meat. Can you even IMAGINE? GRACIOUS!

  • I was also going to ask if this post was inspired by the Cheerios commercial (which is awesome)! You’re spot on, as usual. I feel like a lot of dads these days are doing more than ever, but still getting teased about how they’re probably bumbling or incapable of childcare and/or housework. Not cool! Dads are amazing.

  • I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’m SURROUNDED by articles about parenting, people are constantly posting them on Facebook, especially between a couple different online moms groups, and I think, my husband is not getting this kind of support (even though it’s frenzied and overwhelming and annoying sometimes). No one is writing articles like “Dads, here is the secret to new fatherhood” – or if they are, fathers aren’t sharing them the way moms are. And now here you are writing this. So many kudos to all the dads pulling double duty and trying to have it all, just like we are.

    • You’re right, Angela! I wonder if they crave the sort of acceptance that we do, or if they’re more comfortable parenting without support from their peers? Food for thought for sure! :)

  • Yes. Yes yes yes. And to not even taking his coat of until he sits down for dinner because the toddler just wants daddy as soon as he walks through the door…not a moment to lose. And to knowing exactly when Mummy is on the verge of Very Wobbly. And to the cup of tea and pregnancy-ache-relieving heat pack every single night. And to always getting the same train home every working day regardless of what work has grown at him so that I’m NEVER left hanging at the end of a day with mister almost-2.

    And most of all, for genuinely WANTING to do this crazy-family-thing together, for all the right reasons.

    This is a wonderful post. Thank you for the reminder!

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