I watch my husband as he does the dishes. I think about how great he is as a dad, how involved he has been from day one. Do you know, I never saw a single meconium-filled diaper? After the (unplanned) cesarean, I laid up in bed, a breastfeeding, cuddling super-star while my husband (NinjaMan) was the diaper hero. The hospital
angels staff kept the meals coming. Bliss.
This is a new generation of fathers.
My dad is awesome, I love him and feel super-close to him, yet he was not always present in everyday parenting as I was growing up. I know that. My partner’s dad was even more traditional and less available to him. Yet, K. is an incredible, conscious co-parent. And, it seems to me that there are a lot of these ‘new dads’ around, at least around this neck of the woods and within the circles I travel. Most (not all, but most) of the dads I know are fully participating dads: they took paternity leave from work to bond with their newborns and support their wives, they help feed, bathe and care for their kids. Gone are the days when dad just kicked a football round with his boys when they were old enough, no, many dads today are really there in the emotional trenches making decisions with their partners, working alongside them as fully available, home-making, well connected dads.
This is quite incredible in a way. Who were their role-models? A shift in consciousness has clearly come about in the last generation or so. Women have demanded more, yes, but men, too, have changed and want more out of their relationship with their children, partners and life, in general. This is a beautiful and to me, at least, a very welcome change – a maturation of the relationship between partners and between parents.
It strikes me though, that a few decades back women were crying out about being expected to do it all – be career oriented, sexy-kitten wives and super-moms. We were right to decry this incredibly difficult if not impossible balance to keep. Now, firmly in a post-feminist era where we can dedicate ourselves to having a successful career and/or we can, if we chose, be stay-at-home-moms and still be credible and respected as intellectual equals (I am not being delluded here, right?) I am looking round and wondering if it is not men that are now expected to do it/be it all.
In all fairness, I haven’t heard the men I know ‘complain’ about this (too much). But I put myself in my NinjaMan’s shoes, for a moment, and I see how he tries to balance it all. He gets up at 5.30am every morning so he can get to work early enough that when he leaves at 4.30pm (so that he gets home by 6 in time to see Pipoca-girl before she goes to bed). Then, in the evening, he often has more work to do from home, does his best to help around the house AND gets down on the floor and plays with our little one. He is also the bath-man. Since she was born, pretty much, NinjaMan has been in charge of the bathtime routine. It gives me 15 minutes to myself (often so I can shower with nobody hanging from my booby) and it is a special bonding time for them, too.
My point is I am grateful, so thankful for how hard he works but more than that I am in awe of the fact that I look at his family and where he has come from and I have NO IDEA where he got this from? From where did he (and so many men like him, in this generation) learn the compassion, sensitivity and value of being involved so directly, so practically in real family life? It was certainly not from familial examples. I have met his kin – they are great but traditional roles apply, very much so. I love that this generation questioned the status-quo (maintained for so long), followed their feeling that they could get and be more and are now creating slowly, softly a silent revolution in fathering from the Heart. Thank you, guys – from my heart.
How is it in your family? Does dad share equally in parenting duties? Does he get down and dirty with play? Is he emotionally-available to the kids? If so, did he have good co-parenting role-models in his family, growing up or is he finding his way himself? Are you learning this parenting as equals thing together as you go?
Gauri lives in San Francisco, California with her life-partner and her 1.5 year old daughter. Born in Boston, USA she was brought up in Portugal and then moved to England to go to Uni. She has a BA in Social Sciences (including child development) and an MSc in International Development. She is now a full-time mom who reads too much, loves photography and blogs about Natural, Responsive Parenting and Mothering as Spiritual Practice at LovingEarthMama.com.