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Challenge: What Do Fathers Do Best?

Dads in the "Now"

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My partner is the one who knows how to “be” with our kids. He’s the one unperturbed with sitting on the bedroom floor, letting them toddle about, babble, sing, and play. He’s agenda-less. He lets the kids come to him and welcomes them with open arms, hugs, tickles and tolerates their make-believe.

I’m the agenda-follower, vegetable-force-feeder, schedule-keeper, nighttime routine follower, iPad shunner, project-manipulator, crayon-pusher, muddy puddle-avoider, quiz-annoyer, list-checker, freaker-outer, frustration-succumber, unnecessary battle-seeker-outer.

But not him.

One of our favorite bedtime stories (Little Boy), ends with the statement, “Little Boy, you remind me how so much depends on days made of now.”

And my partner lives that. He’s able to be in the “now”, let our boys come to him, tickle for hours (well…twenty minutes), and let them derail my perfectly-laid plans.

I’m on a schedule: bath, books, bed. (In my defense, I’ve had the kids all day and I’m done screwing around.)

But he screws all that up with his giggle fests interrupting my reading time.

And it is good.

As a gay dad (who’s unexpectedly the stay-at-home parent), I resent the societal assumption that dads are the ones who deserve slack because we’re all thumbs in changing diapers. It angers me if someone smirks at me with my toddler tornado in a coffee shop and says, “Mommy’s day off?”

(Although I’ve been known to smile when anyone on the street ooh’s and ahh’s at “that cute dad” when I’m barely managing two toddlers perilously zooming down the sidewalk on scooters. Call me a hypocrite.)

But I know we all rise to the occasion of effective parenting, regardless our gender or societal/familial roles. We just have to be asked.

I’ve been asked. So I’m the afore-listed task-master whose label would “normally” be mom. But I’m a dad. And I’m a dad who’s really good at being a mom.

And my partner is really good at being dad.

And in the now.

And that is so very important.

Because I’m intense.

Yesterday, my partner had a very uncharacteristic free day. I took one of our sons to a doctor appointment and, after the appointment, I texted an update. He responded said, “Great. Take your time coming home.”

Wait, what? I could take the afternoon to have a cookie with only one child? Meander down New York sidewalks with only one child?

We didn’t hurry. I didn’t pull my son, praying there’d be no melt-downs or peed-pants or tardiness to the next…whatever.

We were in the “now”.

Thanks, partner. I needed that.

Happy Father's Day.

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