I tell all new young fathers: “Be Dad. Never try to compete with who and what mom does. That’s not your job”. I stand by that statement 100%. Last month restaurants, florists and 3rd grade school projects all spiked in anticipation of Mothers Day. It was on TV, Radio and in Hallmark since February 15. Now I am not hating on mom — good job — however as an advocate for single dads I want to say that Mother’s day shouldn’t be the yardstick you use to measure how well you are doing as a father. Sunday you might not have had dinner reservations and the media might not have had reoccurring stories and dialogue talking about you. A card or ugly tie MIGHT be the only thing you received if you received anything at all. That is okay. Why?
Well because parenting isn’t about accolades. Though nice when you receive them “props” aren’t the end goal when you become a father. Pats on your back aren’t why you sacrifice or toil or worry or protect or pay for or do many of the things you do that no one — including your child — may ever see. You do them because it is your job, plain and simple. Being a parent boils down to putting something before yourself at all times; making something more important than yourself. Staying in and going over algebra homework over going out to drink with you friends. Sitting through dance rehearsals at school over returning the call from the cute girl you’d like to date. It is one of the hardest things to do — initially — but with time you learn how to make it second nature.
This also applies to your counterpart and in some instances mortal enemy in parenting; mom. That’s right mom may have her own selfish agenda that doesn’t involve you. She could be working towards accomplishing something completely different in raising your son or daughter. That is a very real and unfortunate side effect of being a single dad – the vision you have for your children’s lives may not be reciprocated. There is no remedy, it is just an ugly truth that may lie underneath the surface of your parenting experience. I hope it isn’t the case and you participate in a collaborative effort dedicated to developing the very best human being possible. If you don’t then concentrate on your son or daughter, the rest will come. This isn’t unique to being a single parent either, married couples experience the silent rivalry for their childrens’ affection as well.
Mom slaves away all day cooking, kissing boo-boos, and coordinating play dates and in one fail swoop becomes a footnote once dad walks through the door. Dad has done his best cooking, cleaning and putting barretts in his daughter’s hair only to get a wailing attitude that evaporates when her mom takes over. Only her pancakes taste good or help with school science projects valid.
Relax. You are only in a competition with yourself, no one else. Seriously.
You are in a marathon not a race, stamina will determine how you fair not style. Fatherhood does not happen in a single moment but from a collection. You may not become important to your son or daughter until they are 12 and going through puberty. That means you have to wait TWELVE YEARS to pull ahead — though this is not a competition — in that race. Can you wait that long? That was a trick question, you have no choice. And you know what? That one moment you’ve waited so long to experience might be so pivotal that it resonates deeper than mom’s packed lunches and science fair help in the third grade. Your understanding as a parent when they were teenagers lost in the world will be what stands out. Which one is more important? Neither. They both require patience. They are both part of parenting……BUT one definitely feels a bit more gratifying than the other when things are said and done.
Even though this is not a competition, I like it when dads win.
– A Single Dad