You always hear about dads being “get off my lawn” guy, but you never hear about moms being “get off my lawn” gal; why is that? It’s my opinion that it’s because dad’s have a particular role to play, and we fulfill it instinctively. My dad didn’t tell me that that’s what men are supposed to do, but he did get into it with the neighbors for mowing a foot into our yard and for parking in front of our house. I learned from watching.
He used to always tell me “Do as I say, not as I do.” While that’s a nice saying, I feel that kids learn more from what you do, than what you say. That being said, my mom used to “lecture” me, as I called it, whenever I got in trouble.
I was a single dad for a few years until I met my wife, Mandy, and I inherited two more daughters. I was still in college when we met, but more importantly, I was still learning how to become a man. I still have no idea what I’m doing, but as I’m approaching 30, I’m becoming more comfortable in my identity as a man, but more importantly, as a dad.
My wife has had an amazing job since I met her. She’s only moved up, and has about 10 years experience in her field. As a student, and now as someone just starting their career, that was something I struggled with. Not so much that she made more money than me, but that she was a working woman and I wasn’t, so what’s my role?
Men are traditionally the bread-winners; my dad was, so that’s where my example of how to dad came from. However, as time has passed, my wife has continued to move up and with that, comes longer work hours and an extended drive time – a very extended drive time. I work much closer to home, so I’m generally home by 5, whereas Mandy usually doesn’t get home until 7:30. Kids gotta eat, right? So I’ve been forced to grow up and become a man. What’s that look like?
There’s the old cliche that women are “sandwich makers” and belong in the kitchen. I was joking with Mandy about that the other day – I make better sandwiches than her, my daughter lovingly refers to them as “man sandwiches.” This was my big identity crisis – I’m an Iraq war veteran, college graduate, and I am the sandwich maker in this relationship. Since I’m home earlier, I do the majority of the housework, cooking and just general day-to-day upkeep around the house. I don’t mean that to say that my wife doesn’t do anything around the house, she does PLENTY, it’s just that now, I’ve had to learn how to carry my half of the load more efficiently, so that I can help her with hers.
I’ve never enjoyed cooking, cleaning or really, kid stuff for that matter. I don’t enjoy Barbies, tea parties, or princesses. So that makes me a bad dad to 3 little girls, right? That’s what I’ve thought up until about the past year when I’ve realized what my role is as the man of the house.
That door doesn’t close correctly? Dad’ll fix it. Oh wait, I’m Dad! Crap.
That, in a nutshell, is what being a dad means to me. Always being there and giving maximum effort. Nobody else is going to fix, so I have to step up. When my wife took her new job and started getting home nearly 3 hours after me, nobody was left to cook and clean – time to step up and be the example. I may not make a great friend to the girls, but I can show them the way that a man is supposed to act. Men don’t have to play with barbies, we don’t have to make our kids play the sports we did, we don’t have to be their friend, but we do have to be there for them. We owe it to them to show them how a man is supposed to treat a lady, to show them how to fix their bike, to fix their door when it won’t close, and to be there for them when they need it. Don’t tell them what they should do, SHOW them.