I haven’t written a post since my Mental Health post back in May – so thought it was about time that I put pen to paper (err) and get some thoughts out. Todays post is just in time for Fathers day, a time where we celebrate Dads of all shapes and sizes, and just say “thanks” for everything they do, because, you know, sometimes it does go unnoticed.
It’s a common perception that Dads don’t tend to do very much – they’re there for the labour, if they’re not in the pub or at the football, and if you’re lucky, they’ll remember to pick up milk from the shop. Whilst Mum does all the housework, childcare, cooking and so on. You know, that typical family image that so many people still believe happens in modern times. Fathers Day seemed like a day for dads to do even less than people already thought they did!
Well, thankfully, that simply isn’t the case any more. Modern Dads are a totally new breed of awesome – we’re no longer just watching from the sidelines as Mum tackles the world, we’re getting stuck in.
Growing up, both my parents worked full time – my Mum was a teacher, and my Dad used to run a shop, before moving to work for a engineering company (I still don’t really know what he did there, but, you know, that was way back then!). I have 3 older brothers, so as they got older, I became more aware that Mum and Dad were at work, and we were looking after each other until they got home. Dad would start work early, often out of the house by 6am, and back home by 6pm. In the summer, this still didn’t stop him from a few games of cricket in the garden in the evening, and likewise with my Mum, a full days work, followed by a kick about. It wasn’t until I started College that I really appreciated how much my parents did for me, but especially my Dad (yes yes, Mum was awesome too, but it’s not Mothers day soon!)
I wrote about it in my Mental Health post – so I won’t repeat myself too much, but when I was at Uni, my Dad did a 500 mile round trip in one day just to check I was ok (and to convince me to stay at uni!). I’ll never forget that;
There was one point again at Uni where the demons nearly got the better of me. I was ready to quit again, I think it was towards the end of my second year, and I’d struggled with some modules that I thought I’d be ok with. I spoke to my parents, and supportive as ever, my dad got on the train from Norwich at 5am one morning, arrived in Aberystwyth at like 2pm, took me for lunch, had a chat, made me realise that I can do, and popped back on the train when we’d finished eating, and was back in Norwich for midnight that same day. It’s this kind of support that I know I’m extremely lucky to have!
I think it’s probably a key moment for me that made me realise what a Dad *should* do for their kids – and that’s just to be there. No matter what it is, or when it is, I know that I could ask Dad for help, and he’d help. No exceptions, no “I’m busy” or “but the football is on” (ok, exception here, if Norwich are on TV, or he’s at Carrow Road, I’d think twice before calling!). I’ve said all along, since I found out that I was going to be a Dad, that I simply wasn’t going to just sit back and watch – Grayson is my responsibility just as much as he is Ashleighs, and we’re a team, and teams work well together – just like my Mum and Dad did (and do!).
I guess what I’m trying to hint at here, is that this image that gets pained all so often of Dads being lazy, simply isn’t true. I’ve lost count of the number of times, when out on my own with Grayson, that someone (sorry, but it’s normally female, over the age of 50) has said (I’ll list them):
“You’re brave, being out without mum!”
“Ahh, Giving mum a break, are you?”
“Poor boy is crying, he probably want’s his mum”
“You’re changing his nappy!?”
“Taking one for the team?”
There was one instance, in a lift in Wilkos, where two old ladies looked at Grayson asleep in his pushchair, and looked up at me, and one said “Oh, how sweet, mum must be so proud, where is she?!“. I quite rudely replied “I don’t know” (I didn’t, Ash had gone off shopping, we often go our own ways because it’s easier to shop alone without a push chair – so I wasn’t lying, I really didn’t know) – the lady looked at me and said “ah, you’re giving her a break then?” I took a deep breath, and just said:
“I’m his Dad, I can look after him too”
The lift door opened, thankfully, and I left the awkward silence.
I’ve never been a firm believer of having a specific day to celebrate someone doing things, “Fathers Day” – Mothers day is just the same – I’d like to think that I don’t need one day to remind me to thank Ashleigh for all that she does as a Mum – I try and show my thanks throughout the year. Likewise, for Dads – we’re a new breed of Dads, we’re hands on, we get stuck in. Yes, we change nappies. Whilst it’s great to have a day to put a hand up and offer high fives to all the awesome Dads out there, I think it’s something that should be acknowledged more in society in general, not just once a year.
We’ve recently started taking part in the Dadvengers Instagram chats, every Friday. We’ve joined in for the past 3 weeks, and already I’ve gained a huge sense of community from the people involved. It’s been created to offer a place for Dads to come together and talk about lots of different things, parenting, life in general, Dad fails and so on. I, like many Dads, suffer hugely from Dad Guilt – that feeling that no matter what I do for Grayson, it’s simply not enough. Dadvengers has offered me a space to come and either join in, or simply listen and learn about other Dads experiences – something that we all need to realise that we’re not alone, and we’re simply human, trying to do our very best. If you’re under the (mis)conception that modern day Dads are sitting in the pub whilst Mum does all the work, then I encourage you to watch the IGTV clips and understand that there are SO many Dads out there that are doing all they can to be hands on with all aspects of parenting – and I can’t praise them enough.
So, here’s to all the Dads out there, not just on Fathers Day, but every day, no matter what your biological link is, if you’re lucky enough to be able to support and encourage a child, and help them grow in to strong, confident and happy humans, then I doff my hat to you – keep doing what you’re doing, and prove to the world that Dads are awesome.
Happy Fathers day 😉