Thanks to social media stalking my every move, I’ve recently felt I am swimming in a sea of pregnant women, water birth photos and belly bumps. It’s awesome! But at the same time, I can’t help but swoon a little bit over an Instagram account I came across the other day called Don’t Forget Dads (@dontforgetdads). The bio says, “Fatherhood without fear: I don’t babysit. I parent.” Love that! The feed is filled with photos of dads doing what they do best too, loving and caring for their babes. It’s heartwarming to say the least, especially because I think I have one of these doting dads in my circle.
My husband, Matt, is basically a superhero. Part of my definition of superhero is doing your best, communicating when things aren’t going well and making an effort to rectify whatever is causing strife—no checking out! We’re not perfect, but he’s always willing and trying to do his best. His “best” has evolved over the years as we both have grown and matured. Our perspectives are different, as is our understanding of what effort and coming together looks like. I can’t thank him enough for always hearing me out which allows us to break through barriers that come our way. Even if we don’t handle every situation well, we try!
The most profound way he tries is in his relationship with our daughter, Bellamy. She rocked our world upon arrival, and we truly weren’t ready for such a transition. We had a lot of growing up to do quickly, and change in general is hard for him. He went through the motions of being afraid of her, worrying he wasn’t a good parent and fearful he couldn’t care for her needs. He questioned everything about life during those initial few weeks, and it was hard being on the other side wanting to feel as unified as possible.
As time passed, he became familiar with the ebb and flow of life with a newborn and eventually found a new confidence to walk in as a husband and a father. Fast forward 10 months later (tear!), and he’s so spectacular. He is her father. He is her caretaker. He is not a babysitter. He is not a stand-in for when I am not at home. No joke, I sometimes feel I am not even missed when it’s just the two of them. He has got it down, and I often recognize I am learning from him, too!
I really admire his commitment to knowing her well. He picks up on her preferences and tendencies just as much as I do. He has his own routine and system with her that works well for their relationship. When we are out together, we don’t yield to one person’s way of doing things—we are a great team! I love that he thinks about whether or not she has on sunscreen, checks to make sure she is still breathing at night (even though we are almost past the SIDS one-year mark), cares to coordinate her outfit, keeps her laughing and gets her to sleep for hours longer than I do. He will go to her when she cries and doesn’t wait for me to spell anything out. I truly believe he feels confident in his role, and that’s something I want to further foster and protect.
I personally think our world is changing in terms of “gender roles” and what moms and dads do within the confines of their relationships with their children. Couples I know approach parenting as a team—from pregnancy to birth and beyond—and I really love the uprising of fathers feeling empowered to parent independently without mom holding any hands. I can account for the amazing benefits it has had on our relationship and our life together. And I believe our daughter will one day give her own testimony of how it has impacted her life positively.