When my wife and I first got pregnant, we were never so excited about anything in our lives. From that initial holy bejeeezus moment when we first found out, parenthood has been nothing short of a thunderous freight train racing down the tracks of life just barely clinging to a semi-controlled rail of chaos. Getting off the train wasn’t an option, so we just held on as tightly as we could. But soon thereafter, we began to realize that we were embarking on just possibly the most challenging, beautiful, awe-inspiring, and precious journey of our lives.
Everyone's introduction to parenthood is unique and I am certainly no different. When I first wrote about my story, 93 Days, it was because I needed an outlet for the overwhelming feelings I was experiencing. But the impetus for Tubalub, was because I very quickly, even before the birth of my twin girls, began to realize that I was being treated differently by just about everyone.
I was secondary as an expectant father.
I was often ignored, passed-over, and even ridiculed at times for attempting to contribute as a parent. But the most striking observation was that none of this was done maliciously. People just didn't realize they were doing it. At first my wife and I would merely laugh, but as it became more and more prevalent, it became increasingly bothersome and less something that I could easily ignore.
Most fathers want to be a part of their kids’ lives; we want to help them thrive and mold them into happy, smart, kind, tolerant and curious people. We want to make sure they are healthy and to teach them about good nutrition and exercise.
We want to help them make good choices for themselves.
We don't want the server at the restaurant to ask “Mom, refills for the kiddos?” Or the doctor’s office to ask for Mom when they call with the test results. Or for a perfect stranger to observe you attempting to grocery shop with three kids in tow and say “I don’t know how your wife does it.” Or for XYZ brand to stereotype fathers as lazy, stupid, and uninterested in our kids’ lives.
I am a father. But more importantly, I am a Dad – and there is a difference.
I change diapers, do 3 a.m. feedings, help with homework, change sheets, do laundry, discipline my kids even though it’s easier to let it go, always look for ‘teachable moments’, enthusiastically play tea party and soccer, take them fishing, hug them when they are scared or nervous, put a Band-Aid on that scraped knee, tell my kids I love them, sing them songs, do dance parties, build pillow forts, and chase them around the house pretending to be 'on a bear hunt'. And sometimes they just sit with me under my arm on the couch and watch a Sox game in silence.
I am not perfect, but I am present.
I am accountable.
I am also a consumer.
I have a voice, an opinion, and an insatiable love for my family. As do you.
So go and be a fully credentialed Dad. Because you're qualified and you deserve that respect.
And because someone thinks you're pretty cool too.
Have you been passed over or ignored as a Dad? Does the stereotype of “lazy fathers” bug you? Tell us about it in the comments.
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