It has been six years since our first child was born. Our world certainly has changed since I was born in the 1970s, and so has the role of dads. I talk about two types of dads, but I am sure there are more: The traditional dad and the modern-day dad. One is not better than the other, nor more worthy, but I’d be remiss to not write this post about my husband, a modern-day dad.
Remember growing up in the 70s and even early 80s? Dads were generally the sole wage earners, and moms generally stayed at home or worked part-time so the kids could be accommodated before and after school, and summers. I felt so blessed to have a mom and dad who could do that for me – one was the sole earner, and mom stayed at home for us. My husband grew up the same way. But, as a result of traditional roles, dads never got the chance or opportunity to do traditional mommy things. A few of my friends in their late 30s and 40s said their dads still brag how they never changed a diaper- ever! This is not an old wives’ tale- this was reality. The reality was that dads were rarely left alone with their children back then. The few times they were left alone with the kids did not bode well for either party. Another friend shared a story of how he and his siblings were left alone for a couple of days because his mom had to leave on an emergency trip, and the father fed them TV dinners the entire time. His dad hosed them down in the backyard because he did not know how to change diapers, or bathe kids in a tub. Ah, the stories we could all share. Of course, I am not saying this about all dads back then, but let’s face it- times were different. The bottom line is no matter who our primary care provider was growing up, did not diminish the relationship we had with our fathers. We were loved and still are. That being said, I know some dads today who are just like traditional dads. So again, one stereotype does not necessarily fit all.
I am not sure if you have heard about the “modern-day dad.” It’s talked about more and more, and many dads even stay at home while moms are the sole earners. A modern-day dad is involved, and often rivals the traditional care role moms used to play. The modern-day dad is alive and well, and living among us, working in the cubicle next to ours, on the treadmill in front of us, and if we are lucky enough, married us. Who are these modern-day dads, and what makes them so special? Why are they revered so much, and given so little credit? For me, the modern-day dad is best portrayed by my husband. This is a true story…
The modern-day dad’s work does not define him. His self-worth is not derived solely from his profession, but rather, the “whole life” concept. Oftentimes, modern-day dad is feeling the same struggles we feel as working moms. He is also struggling with life/work/family balance, but keeps it inside.
The modern-day dad will be there for the birth of his children, despite the blood and gore. He even rubs your back through the horrible contractions. And even though he wished he were hanging off a ledge somewhere instead, modern-day dad tries to remain calm, tolerating each scream and cry of pain. He takes shifts waking up in the middle of the night for dirty diapers, feedings (to the extent he could help early on), and did all he could to help. Modern-day dad is often seen on a rocker at 2 a.m. trying to put a newborn back to sleep, or strapping on a boppy pillow to feed a bottle-feeding baby. Modern-day dad cleans up the house, does laundry, loads/unloads the dishwasher, and cooks. Lucky us, modern-day dad may actually cook better than us. Modern-day dad takes great care of the children when mommy is gone for work, or for family emergencies, all while trying to maintain sanity, a schedule, drop-off and pick-up duties all over town, meals, and keeping the home presentable. Modern-day dad is a miracle, life-saving “soccer” dad. He will take the kids to activities, or for grocery & hardware shopping so modern-day mom can sleep in a little. He will also take them to the park or to play tennis, all so mom can experience some peace. He gets little to no credit, but his actions keep momma happy. And when momma’s happy, everyone is happy!
Modern day dad cares about his children just as much as mom, and teaches his children how to do chores around the house, be more responsible, and to say “excuse me” when they wish to interrupt an adult. Modern-day dad teaches his children how to ride a bike without training wheels, and feels bad when they take a fall or tumble. He teaches them how to swim and ski. Modern day dad takes his kids for haircuts, and secretly feeds them junk food laced with high fructose corn syrup when mom is not looking. Modern-day dad is not necessarily “touchy feely” on the outside but he crumbles on the inside when something is wrong with his kids or family.
Modern-day dad was there for the first steps his children took, and he secretly prays they will be holding his hand as he takes his last ones on this earth. Modern-day dad equips his daughters with the tools they will need to survive, be smart, and perfect in their own right in this crazy, confusing world. Modern day dad does all this with no expectation of anything in return, but the hope that one day those daughters will make a difference. Modern-day dad is a hero to his children, and they will be lucky to find a partner later in life who will give them even half the love and care they received from him.
I pray more of us get to experience and witness modern-day dad because I feel blessed that my children and I have one in our lives. It’s not for everyone. Some still prefer traditional roles, and there is nothing wrong with that. No matter what type of dad you are, or what type of man you are married to; traditional or modern, spouses and children need two things: To feel loved, and actually be loved. As a daughter, I grew up being raised by a traditional dad. He still is. My father-in-law is a traditional dad as well, and I think we turned out alright. I just know that modern day dads are not born this way, not made, but have evolved into what they are, and the roles they have assumed in our new world. No one way is right, but whatever type you are, traditional or modern, listen, love, understand, and be the best type of dad you are! I hope I can share this post with my daughters one day so they can appreciate what an amazing dad they have. They are blessed, and they are loved.
Happy Father’s Day 2013 to my husband, father, and father-in-law, and to you all out there. Whether, modern-day dad or traditional, you truly make the world a better place!