[Editor’s Note: Laura originally wrote this piece in June 2017, due to our hiatus we are publishing it now, so we know the first line says Father’s Day is approaching, technically June 2018 is approaching.]
So father’s day is approaching and it got me thinking about the purpose of a father.
My father jokes that children are meant to be seen and not heard. Although I’m not sure he’s really joking. I am the youngest of three children and my mother stayed at home with my older sisters but when I came along and started school, my grandfather (her father) pointed out that my father was the sole earner in the household and what would she do for an income if something happened to him. So when I went off to kindergarten, she went back to school (hello, momma with a masters before it was cool!)
This left little ol’ me in the clutches of my father. He took me to school and picked me up from piano and we carpooled to dance class. He checked my homework until I cried because it was never right. He punished me when I went off his path. He swelled with pride when I graduated.
Notwithstanding just plain difference in people, I am a way different kid than my sisters and I blame thank him. I followed in his footsteps professionally and learned that as terrifying as it is, you stand up when needed.
I was reading an article the other day about a mother whose son was hurt during a game. He cried and she hugged him, dusted him off, and sent him back. A stranger told her to stop coddling the kid. (Jackhole – never comment on a stranger’s parenting skill – you have no idea what they are going through.)
So when my husband and I took our kids to the park this weekend I decided to father watch. The baby was sound asleep and my husband and I tag teamed chasing the 2 ½ year old around. There was a father with 3 boys: they were just set loose. The older brothers were in charge of the littlest one. The father played on his iphone. There was an older father (or a grandfather?) who was convincing his son to play by timing him on different toys – how long did it take too… and then the old guy let his kid time him! There was a father of 4 kids (2 of each) who was struggling to comb his daughter’s unruly hair.
And then there was us. When it was my turn, I went first, stayed within arm’s length at all times, dusted him off, I made sure there was a way in and way out (side note: whoever designed this park was an evil genius; so many tunnels; just this side of small for an adult to fit through), I checked for sketchy ducks who might come after us. When it was my husband’s turn, my son had a little more freedom. He was on the other side of this gargantuan structure alone. They worked together to climb up some contraption over and over until eventually he could do it himself.
It’s as if the fathers observed were teaching (or forcing) independence. Well that’s just shocking (mock shock people – mock shock).
I have a co-worker who insists that the only way to raise a child is in a hetero-married relationship. I find this odd as he is a divorced father of one – so is he saying I’m ideal, all the other hippies are wrong, or did he fail as a father because he wasn’t married to the mother? I never agree him, but I usually listen, because the only way to be open minded is to hear someone else’s side. What is his definition of a successful parent? Point is, I don’t have a clue which of us is right (I’m leaning towards me because duh).
I know that it is taking me a village to raise my babies. My babies who I wipe clean incessantly. My babies who I would bubble wrap the world if it meant they are safe. My babies who need to learn to fall and get up. My babies who are learning to climb ladders from their dad.