A photo of a dad doing his daughter’s hair while carrying his second child in a baby carrier recently went, as they say, VIRAL and has garnered a lot of different responses. Most are extremely positive and acknowledge the sweetness which obviously exists between this man and his children. Some sadly are downright dreadful, racist and as far as I’m concerned, unacceptable in that they suggest this man must have hired these children to pose with him – or obviously doesn’t want to work for a living and is content with letting his wife be out of the home so he can be “lazy” with his kids. I am not a stay-at-home parent. First because I can’t be and second, I don’t want to be. I have been working since 16 and can say that I love to work. I don’t like my job every single day, but I love being in this environment and feel that this is what works best for both me and Sam. I feel that working actually allows me to be a better mother to him because working offers me personal fulfillment. In saying that, we are all different people who want different things and the truth is – none of these things are wrong.
But I digress… this is not about me being a working mom. This is about dads. This is about a guy who innocently sent his wife a picture while doing his daughter’s hair and saw it explode into a bunch of responses that he probably wasn’t prepared for. It unleashed an amazing flood of feelings about how the world views fathers.
I love my dad. He has been my hero for as long as I can remember. I am always happy when I do something that pleases him and still at 33, cower in a corner if he seems disappointed in me in any way. I was terrified to tell him more than anyone else that I was pregnant. I thought he would be ashamed of me, but he was loving and even remarked that he really wasn’t all that surprised… my dad is the guy I call about my car, about sports or about money. I call and tease him every snow day (he’s the head of a private school) and I like to hear about the next trip he has planned. He is without a doubt an amazing dad. But there are SO many different definitions of what a good dad is and I’ve learned that more since Sam was born. To me, this is what makes you a good dad:
- Show interest in your child. Take note dads… this is easier than ever because of texting, email, Facebook, Instagram, FaceTime, Skype, etc. (If you’re not physically with them daily, that is.)
- Express love. With words, with smiles, with hugs, with kisses. It is not un-sexy to express love for your children. On the contrary, it’s plenty attractive.
- Support your child. This is not about money. Support is so much more than a payment that is sent to the mother of your child if you are not with her. I can’t speak for all mothers in a situation like mine, but the financial support is secondary to being able to call if I have a parenting question or am concerned about something regarding our child.
- Respect the mother of your child. Not “when” she’s being nice to you. Not “if” she’s doing what you want. If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that to GET love (respect), you have to GIVE it.
- Be available. No, I don’t want you to give up on the things that interest you and make you the man you are. But if your child needs you, try as hard as you can to be there.
Maybe my picture or view will change as Sam grows. I hope not too much because I like where I am with this right now. I like that I can take Sam to be with his dad this weekend for his first birthday and know that I’m not only doing this for my son and his sister, but for his dad. And honestly, for me. And not because I have to. Not because the papers told me to. But because I want to. I want Sam to look back at pictures one day and be thrilled that this time was shared with his dad. I know that today, I already am.