“You cannot really mean that! How can you even say that with a straight face?”, said one work colleague to me. I didn’t know how to respond. I had to be careful because this was a colleague in a position of seniority and I didn’t want to offend her or say something that would sour or working relationship, yet, I had to make my point. We were discussing parenting; I was telling her about Kian, our experiences with him over the past year and then I seemed to hit a raw nerve when I mentioned the key role dads played in bringing up children.
She wasn’t having any of it. Her point of view was that moms bore the brunt of parenting what with carrying the child in their wombs for nine months, enduring the pains of labour and then also having to sacrifice their careers, jobs and opportunities in the name of raising children.
It isn't a competition- it is a collaboration:
I wasn’t arguing with any of those points, in fact, I wasn’t even trying to say that dads had the tougher or more painful role in parenting. I wasn’t saying that the role of a dad superseded that of a mom in any way. This wasn’t a competition; it was a collaboration after all. In fact, I was giving moms all the credit (I even suggested she go read my blog where I call dads ‘’supporters-in-chief”); all I was telling her was that at times dads deserved some credit for their help and for the work they do in bringing up a child. Often they were forgotten or completely relegated to the background.
Again, I am not saying that when the child is born, people should be asking the dad as to how he is, but somewhere along the line, just spare a thought for that guy as well… he has sat through child birth patiently, watching silently and helplessly as his wife/spouse goes through all that pain and suffering. All he can do through those 12, 17, 24 hours is be there, hold his wife’s hand and assure her that “it’s all going to be ok… it will all be over soon”. In his heart he has been hoping, praying that it all goes well and that his wife and soon to be child come out of it fine. He has held every emotion, every thought, every feeling silently within him for all those hours, just hoping that somehow he could share in his wife’s pain.
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And then when it’s all over, he breathes a sigh of relief, he looks up to the heavens and thanks whatever superior being there is out there for watching over him and his family. He brushes his wife’s head, wipes off the sweat and checks in to make sure she is doing ok. “Well done sweetie”, he says and pecks her on the forehead. He heads over to the midwife to check in on the status and health of the latest addition to his family… again, all well… another look up to the heavens, another silent prayer of thanks…
Then he takes it upon himself to message family and friends, to announce to everyone the arrival of the newest addition to the family. Greetings pour in; everyone wants to see the little one. Everyone asks is mom and baby are doing fine… “yes, they are well”. No one checks in to see how the dad has held up through all this; how the emotional rollercoaster has affected him if at all. No worries; he will tough it out… he’s doing well and just thankful that it all went smoothly.
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The real reality after baby is born
A few days pass…. Weeks go on…. the dad returns to work and the routine resumes. Only that it is no longer a routine. The night sleep is frequently broken up with cries of hunger or pain… no matter; once mom is done feeding, dad takes it on himself to burp the little one and to change his nappy so that mom can get those few extra winks of sleep. Once the little one is settled, dad returns to bed for whatever remains of the night before he knows it will be time to wake up and head to work. It is 7.30 am; bleary eyed and tired, yet dad heads off to work for another long day at the office. He knows that despite having a sleepless night, he must head to the office… with the arrival of the little one, the family has grown and needs him more than ever. This job, as little as he may like it, is now extremely important and the pressures suddenly multiplied. So, he puts his head down and works diligently. Ridiculous managers, excess travel, difficult clients, too many assignments… it doesn’t matter. It must all be done and done diligently to ensure that the family is kept safe, comfortable and happy. And after a long and hard day at work, dad must return home with a smile to his family; work must be left behind at work because dad wants a happy and joyful environment at home.
Yet, no one has asked how dad is doing… but he knows that his role still is and will remain that of supporter-in-chief, because behind the scenes, at home, mom is running around, attending to, feeding and taking care of the little one’s every need. He doesn’t need the acknowledgement; he doesn’t need people to shout from the top of roofs… no, not at all… all dad needs is a bit of recognition sometimes.
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