This weekend, I went out to dinner with my husband and our two lovies to celebrate an early Father’s Day. Dex is slowly reaching the age where he can halfway be trusted in public, and Em is the world’s easiest baby. So, naively, we chose a nicer family-friendly restaurant.
Within 15 seconds of sitting in the booth, Em began wailing like his life was over. Dex chose to promptly join his younger brother in losing all sense and flopped around the bench seat like a demented baby seal. Both scenarios continued intermittently throughout the meal. The table next to us was having a birthday party, and somehow in the proceedings, Dex even conned the sweet lady out of two pieces of birthday cake! I ping ponged between hissed threats to the older child and soothing shushes to the younger, occasionally shoveling rapidly cooling food into my mouth with my inept left hand.
After the dinner fiasco (Patrick’s entrée and the appetizer were delicious at least!), my dear, sweet husband and father of these two hoodlums turned to me with loving concern in his eyes.
“Honey,” he said, “you seem a little tense.”
Mothers, really women in general, carry a biological imperative to be caregivers. We are geared to address not only the difficulties of a situation but the emotions behind it. At our dinner table, I felt Emmett’s discomfort, Deklan’s tiredness and boredom, and the presumed irritation of diners around our table.
In addition to feeling and wanting to help my children’s frustrations, I was also desperately conscious of being “that family” in a nice restaurant. My husband was living out the same melodrama, helping with both kids’ breakdowns, and still able to enjoy his delicious dinner! So what gives?
Mothers are driven by emotion. Fathers are driven to fix.
We joke about daddies sleeping through long nights with fussing children. Often we gripe about the fun and silliness fathers get to enjoy with our babies, leaving us moms with no help and additional messes in their wake. We’re about the business of doing, while they are about the joy of doing.
Yesterday, I was intensely aware of Patrick’s ability to compartmentalize those things he could not “fix” and enjoy the experience in spite of them.
That is not a skill I possess. Yet, it is a skill my children benefit from. If they are to learn how to enjoy life through difficulties like a daddy, then their daddy must be present to teach them.
Making Space for Fatherhood
Society spins a narrative that often downplays the importance of fathers. In our drive to acknowledge the strength, capability, and very real necessity of women in the family and workplace, we often relegate the role of dads to a caricature of their true purpose.
My baby needs Mommy a lot right now. But Em will not always be a baby. Dex is already fully in the Daddy-idolization stage. I must make space for their father in this indispensable business of parenting.
Because, though I am a fierce mama, I am not everything my sons need to develop from good boys into great men.
Unfortunately, there are women across our communities and churches fighting to do just that, on their own. We need men to walk before our boys and our girls, to demonstrate in word and deed the responsibility and beautiful strength of manhood. We need fathers, even those who may never have biological children, to lead our sons and daughters by example.
And we need to stop diminishing the incredible magnitude of fatherhood in our words and thoughts.
So thank you, dads.
- Thank you for doing it differently than us.
- Thank you for pitching in and dressing our kids like the local feed and seed store’s clothing department threw up in their closets.
- Thank you for putting away the dishes where no human being could ever find them.
- Thank you for creating joy and infusing fun into my everyday and menial.
- Thank you for seeing the potential for memories where I only saw messes.
- Thank you for leading our homes in worship, prayer, and Godly devotion.
- Thank you for your constancy and strength, the framework for my empathy and sensitivity.
- Thank you for displaying dedicated work ethic and the heart of a provider.
- Thank you for teaching our children to wish upon falling stars and catch lightning bugs in our good mason jars.
- Thank you for raising strong fathers and devoted husbands in your stead.
- Thank you for exemplifying to our daughters what they deserve as wives and mothers.
And thank you especially to my daddy and my husband
You have stood behind me and beside me in the biggest moments of my life. Your prayers have covered me and our boys from tiny boo-boos to moments of momentous decision. Your walks with God pave the path for us to love truth and ministry.
If our boys turn out to be half the men you are, I will consider this most important work of my life a success.
Happy Father’s Day!