Open Letter: Dear dad

To the father that is hands on, the stay at home dad and the single dad – we say ‘thank you’ from the bottom of our hearts

Photo by Syrie Wongkaew

To the father that is hands on, the stay at home dad and the single dad –

We see you. We are forever grateful for you. We are proud of you. Your contribution and what you are doing to raise our kids is invaluable.

It’s incredible to think how fatherhood is being redefined. Your role as a man, as a father, has come to mean new things in just one generation. There was a time you were not permitted or encouraged to be in the delivery room, didn’t change diapers or soothe a baby back to sleep in the middle of the night. Now, you are informed about pregnancy, better able to support us mothers, encourage and reassure us along the way. You assist us through it all, riding the ups and downs of hormones and fatigue, you hold us in the delivery room, are attentive and respectful of our needs, give us love and cheer us on. You take over when we grow tired. You hold and rock our baby to sleep. It’s incredible to see so many of you wearing babies, strapped to your front or on your back, fostering a bond with your little ones from early on. You’re listening, constantly learning and always striving to do your best. You give good pep talks and sound advice. You bring an element of fun into everything and lighten the mood when needed. You’re our rock; our place to lean into when we need it, a place we grow stronger, a partner in the truest sense.

To the stay at home dad, you prepare bottles of milk, establish nap times, learn how to bounce your baby to sleep, clean, tidy, cook and prepare meals. You are living proof that stereotypes ought to be challenged wherever we find them. You are outnumbered at the playground, the museums, parenting and play groups. You are an anomaly, though your group is growing in numbers, and it’s difficult for others to understand what you do or to know your challenges. It’s a demanding job like none you’ve ever known before. You weren’t trained. You couldn’t have even imagined this, you in this role. It’s hard to know, to feel like you’re doing a good job and your self-esteem is challenged. For some of you, your masculinity may be threatened by a society that is learning to change with the times. You rise above traditions that expect men to work outside the home and you lead by example, showing how love for a child and for family can bring out the best in a man. You battle with confusion and exhaustion and despite your self-doubts or concerns; you are doing an amazing job. You are rewarded for your efforts with beautiful and magical moments with your child and a bond so strong, you’ll have a lifetime of memories to show that your efforts were worth it.

To the single dad, we are in awe of you, moved by all that you do and give and manage. You must be so many things and you prioritize and organize and constantly rearrange to make it all happen. Caring for a child is a particularly steep learning curve for you. You’ve not been taught, you don’t have experience and growing up, you weren’t conditioned for this. You learn fast; you’re nurturing and loving and you give your all. You are the image of love and strength for your children and they will carry forward the values you teach through example.

To dads of daughters you enter a new and foreign world bravely. You make us giggle when a tiny baby swimsuit gets put on back to front, or the bow tied in the front or left hanging because you didn’t know what it was or bloomers have been put on with the ruffles in the front. You paint nails, sit for tea parties and find out what the film “Frozen” is all about.

To all you dads out there, we see you. You accommodate fairy wings on your outings, super heroes at the grocery store, the particular way someone likes their breakfast served or lunch packed. You tell bedtime stories, sing songs, ride your kids on your back or carry them on your shoulders. You construct pirate ships in your back yard, create fun projects, teach your kids to swim, ride a wave, carve down a mountain, build a sandcastle or ride a bike. You do crafts, play make-believe or drive your kids to sports practice, music or dance lessons. You manage to excite whole groups of kids at a time (your own included) at the museum with the way you rope up those cubby houses and forts; explain how to best set up the tracks and chutes for the speediest passage of a dropped ball or intricately carve designs in clay.

We love how you want the car we drive to be safe, how you pay attention to the condition of our tires. You encourage, you support, you love and watching you with our kids fills our hearts with admiration and gratitude.

Your words of wisdom about relationships, overcoming difficult times or dealing with sorrow are lessons we carry with us always. Your words, your thoughts, they come to us in a way no one else’s can. They carry special meaning. You have a unique perspective on life, one we all need to learn from and better understand. You teach what it means to be noble and worthy, have courage, be honorable, have integrity, humility and to stand up for what is right. In doing so, you set a standard that is carried throughout the lives of your children and makes your mark on humanity. We support you. We applaud you. We congratulate you, dad. Thank you for the strong bond you form with your child, the powerful way you love and for the impressions you leave that last beyond a lifetime.

With great respect and appreciation, all us mothers.