[HUSBAND@HOME] Father’s Day Evolution

A two-income household becomes a one-income household, and dad stays home! Sure, you’ve heard the stories of stay-at-home-dads before, but now you can read it from the outside in. Husband@Home is one wife and mother’s observations as her family adjusts to having a stay-at-home-dad.

I am still getting used to Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day respectively) being about us. It has been about others for 30+ years. It seems so strange how every aspect of my life has changed in the past 3 and 1/2 years; but strangest of all, it has changed my relationship with my parents and other parents I encounter.

When we were still measuring my youngest’s age in months and our 3 year old was two, we had just moved to a new city and put them in a new daycare.  There was a lot going on in our lives. I was still somewhat distrustful of my husband being capable of taking good care of girls when I was not around (I realize how arrogant this sounds… hang with me for a moment), and thus began to perpetuate any small inefficiencies that existed.  I did not see myself as a person who had trouble “letting go” or being a “control freak;”  but as you know, hindsight… ’nuff said.

After I became a parent,  stories began to emerge from my father that I had never heard before; mistakes he made, hard times he had, crossroads I never knew existed.  These stories were much different than the ‘truth’ (i.e. perspective)  I knew as a child growing up under his roof, and some of them were different versions of the stories I thought I knew.  As Paul Harvey would say, “and now you know {long pause} the rest of the story!”   As a child it never occurred to me that we may have not been able to afford things others had, that we ate hot dogs a lot because they were cheap, not because it was my favorite! Or that Daddy needed to be left alone to read because at the time he was growing his own business and putting himself through school, trying to pass calculus when he had not looked at algebraic functions in oh about 20+ years.  All I knew was that I wanted his attention, and he never denied me that.   Whether I showed up when he was studying, when he came in from work exhausted, even when I went to his office and important clients may have been there, he always made me feel like I was the only person in the room!  This may be one of the single-most significant things he did as a father that made me believe I was the luckiest girl in the world.

My father had a way of illuminating what was already in the room. Dad expressed to me one day that I had to trust my husband to do what I was not allowing him to do. “I have to have faith in him. Ha! Of course I…” I stopped myself before making that statement.  It could be possible I had not stepped out on that limb; that being the case, how could he live up to the father I envisioned without any faith or trust from me?

My dad always knew how to do stuff.  As a single dad, he changed diapers, warmed bottles, potty-trained, and worked full time.  Duh! It just came naturally.  Doesn’t it to all men?  (Oh, and he could walk on water as well.)  Needless to say, I was wrong.  (I believe my dad could have actually been astounded at my naivete here.) Over the course of the conversation, he imparted to me that the real learning is when the bottles I have prepared run out, the diapers and wipes were gone, and the dishes were all dirty.   The best thing I could do for both of us was to go.

I know what you’re thinking… this isn’t the part in the story where I hole up in a hotel room for a week eating room service and getting massages while my husband learns the hard lessons of parenthood.  No, I am talking about letting go when I have to go.   It started out as little changes; when he was at home with the girls, I did not kill myself trying to get to the phone when he called or immediately call him back.  I quickly learned that when I checked in later, he had figured it all out himself (huge shock).   I thought I had rendered myself completely indispensable when it came to raising our girls! Now why would I want to do that?

Obviously my father is a wise man who has planted many seeds through conversations like these over the course of all my years. Now that I, too, am a parent, I finally understand how he might love me so much and why that is so important to who I am and what I know to be true today.  No matter how many gray hairs I was responsible for or sleepless nights I caused, he loved me unconditionally.  (This realization poured over into my spiritual life, too, but that is another blog for another time and place.) Having children happens. Raising them is the most unselfish thing  you can do in your life.

At the end of the day, when the juice is gone and the dust has settled, when girls crawl up into their daddy’s lap and nuzzle up to him, I know they are so blessed to have a father that loves them so much.  No matter how many gray hairs they put on his head or how many times he must raise his voice to get their attention, he made the decision to be present and active in their lives, to be there for them at a point where their independence, sense of self, and security are in the critical stages of development.  I look forward to the day that my children, as adults, reflect one Father’s Day on how their father loved them so unconditionally, then look into the eyes of their own children and it all becomes so clear.

Image credit: B S K, SXC

2 thoughts on “[HUSBAND@HOME] Father’s Day Evolution

  1. RugbyMom, good on you! You’re right about dads being present and active. It is hard when you are working to do this. My mid life crisis saw me leave a well paid executive salary and become a teacher. WHY? so I could get the balance in life I wanted with my kids. My wife works and in part begrudges me of my plan but on the other hand welcomes my presence and activity. It took me 20 years slaving the corporate gig to realise chasing money was a flawed strategy when it came to the fabric of families. I’ve also followed my passion and set up a club for Aussie dads http://www.dadsclub.com.au it is for all kinds of dads and I think working Mums would like what we say. PS Rugby Mom do you follow Southern hemisphere rugby? Did you watch the Wallabies (Australia) V’s All Black (NZ) last weekend?

  2. Hi Dave, good on ya mate! (Did I screw that one up?) Your site looks good and I’ve bookmarked it. I enjoy watching rugby and would love to be more involved. I typically read about the wins/losses of the All Blacks, Wallabies, Springboks, etc., because it is difficult to catch a game on T.V. unless you pay big bucks and then get up at 3am to watch. 🙂 They have talked about a rugby channel but it is only online and you still have to pay for big games. When the 6 nations, Hong Kong 7s, and other big Championships come around, I try to find a pub is showing the games and catch them there. I really hate that it is so tough to see a game. I was all over Utube.com last night looking at highlights!

    Thanks for the comment. Good for you making the tough choice! I am sure it will pay off.

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