I am full of praise for my fellow Mums, but what about the Dads? There is a common question amongst those who take the time to read about my struggles as an “effective” parent. The answer has always been the same:
“I want to write nice things about Dads. So when my children’s father stops pissing me off and gives me something good to write, I will!”
I decided today was the day. He didn’t come home from work laden with chocolates and flowers, he didn’t do the washing or the dishes or even pick up his smelly gym clothes before leaving the house for work at 6am in his usual delicate (read clod-hopper!) fashion. He actually intruded on my routine and came home early and sat himself on the couch, filling the lounge room with the dulcet tones of Call of Duty 5, stopping only to inspect what treats had been purchased at today’s shopping expedition and enquiring as to the ETA of dinner. But something happened only a couple of minutes ago that made me really look at my husband, my parenting partner, and recognise his importance to our family, for a whole myriad of reasons. He stopped his game to respond to Miss 5 calling from the backyard, and when I looked out the window to make sure he had attended to her call and not detoured to the shed, I saw him pushing her on the hammock swing, smiling as she giggled with joy. It was one of those moments, like the TV ads, a moment imprinted on my memory forever, as my daughter laughed infectiously and my husband lazily pushed her in the swing, completely oblivious to how immensely happy his presence made her.
My own Dad was not around much, he was of the generation of understanding that working was providing and that was a man’s role. He would struggle if you asked him our favourite sports, our best friends name or our birthdates, but always made an obligatory once a year attendance to dancing concerts and provided the funds for birthday parties and school excursions. I never wanted for anything, but my favourite memory of my Dad and I is not one of beautifully wrapped gifts or expensive holidays. Once a month, on a Wednesday afternoon, my Dad would pick me up from school at 1pm and take me for my orthodontist appointment. He would wait for me to finish and we would walk across the road to his favourite lunch bar and get hot chips. He would let me have the rest of the afternoon off, either dropping me at home or taking me back to the office, and whenever the dental nurse asked him if he’d like to move my appointment to a later time in the day, he always said no. It was just the two of us, just for a couple of hours, and I loved it.
My kids Dad is a good one, I lucked out with him. He does kindy duty and learnt guitar with our daughter. He’s always at our son’s footy games and can sit through an entire dancing concert just to see his littlest princess do a 2 minute sequin-infused rendition of the chicken dance and still thinks she was the star of the show. He wears fairy crowns and knows how to do up the buttons on the most complex of ballerina tutus, all whilst explaining some Man Vs Wild type TV show to the boy. He would probably struggle with the kid’s teachers names, but he knows what year they are in and where to collect them from. He never returns from the very sporadic supermarket visit without a treat for everyone. He knows everything about our kids, our family, because he is here.
I know there are so many kids out there whose Dads aren’t present in their everyday lives, and there are Mums who do the job of both parents. But I can’t speak for them. I know I am lucky to have found a good one, a Dad who places more importance in just being there than in buying stuff. Whose little girl will have so many more memories of her Daddy making her giggle , just by taking time out from his day, to push her in a hammock swing.