Since I became a mom, every time I show up somewhere without the kids (especially at the beginning, when Oliver was a baby and then when Emily arrived), the first question people ask me is, “Who did you leave the kids with?”.
What do you mean, “Who did I leave the kids with?”. With their father, of course. If my husband is not with me, then he’s with the kids: it’s pretty obvious to me.
Well, apparently it’s not. I don’t know if it’s only here in Spain (I haven’t been a mother anywhere else), but there’s this silent belief that the father can’t take care of the children by himself. That he can’t get his babies to stop crying. That he can’t change a poop nappy. That he can’t put his children to sleep on his own.
Well, all I can say is: that is 150% NOT true.
A dad is a mom with a penis. He can do whatever a mom can do. He can stand whatever she can stand. He can parent solo if put in the spot.
Sure, there are families and families, and each reality is different. But in my experience, behind a dad who can’t parent solo, there’s always a mom who doesn’t let him.
A mom who tells him off if he does things his way—dads always do things their way, but they get them done nonetheless.
A mom who takes the crying baby from his arms, because she doesn’t believe he’s capable of calming him down—dads are always capable, and sometimes better than moms.
A mom who does everything for the family and then complains that daddy doesn’t do anything—if a dad has everything done for him, he will gladly accept his privileged position… who wouldn’t?
In my family, mom and dad do everything 50/50 and we both can do everything 100%.
There’s nothing Alex can’t do—ok, maybe breastfeeding for obvious body limitations, but even without a boob he can put the babies to sleep and avert crisis when I’m away. This has been scientifically proven.
There’s nothing I can’t do—ok, maybe cooking, because Alex is the designated cook of the family, but even without cooking I can keep my children alive for any amount of time. This, too, has been scientifically proven.
I will always remember Alex’s words when I once asked him, “Are you sure you can do it on your own?”. I was leaving him alone for the first time in the evening with 2-month-old Oliver to go back to my dance classes. All he said was, “Of course I can do it. I’m his dad”.
I’M HIS DAD. I love this man for being the way he is—fine, maybe Alex is a natural, because he grew up without a mom, so daddy doing everything is normal to him. But that’s not the point.
The point is: that is the right attitude! ANY DAD can do what a mom does if they put their mind to it—or if they’re put in the spot.
I’m his dad. This is the attitude I’d like every dad to have.
I can do every “mommy thing” my wife does. This is the pride I’d like every dad to feel.
I can put my kids to sleep. This is the confidence I’d like every dad to develop.
I can change my kid’s poop nappy, and even get my hands dirty. This is the size of the balls I’d like any dad to grow.
So, this last message is for you, dads.
You can't compete with a mother because you didn't grow a baby in your womb, that's for sure. Because you you have a nine month disadvantage, it may be a little less natural for you to be with your child. Since you don't have a boob full of milk, it may be a little harder for you to calm your baby down when they cry.
But you are one of the two most important people in your child's life. In those nine months, your baby listened to your voice from inside the belly. They felt your hand waiting patiently for them to kick.
You will find your own methods to calm your baby (be creative, Alex would take Oliver and Emily around the house to see the paintings on the wall and describe them).
Earn your place in your child's life. And the next time your wife/partner wants to take your crying baby from your arms or questions your ability to parent alone, that time – and maybe just that time – let your ego step in, smile and tell her: “Don't worry, I can do it myself. I am the father!”.
Yes, yes, you are! You are not a mom with a penis. You're a dad. It's as important and as special.