I wrangled the kids to swimming lessons yesterday, while my husband got out early on the golf course. I barely had a moment to pause and reflect on Father's Day as I dealt with tantrums, crying and demands for snacks.
It's funny that just two years ago it was me who truly needed a morning away from the kids. Off on maternity leave and dealing with a toddler and newborn, I was overwhelmed and tired. Mother's Day was a magical blessing - I celebrated the day by shirking my mothering responsibilities and spending some time alone. And I didn't feel an ounce of guilt!
My husband's not dealing with a newborn, but he's more involved in parenting than he's ever been before. As the primary caregiver, he gets up with the kids, makes breakfasts and school lunches, and shuffles them to and from school and activities. He cooks dinner five nights out of seven. And although we seem to marvel at men who do 50 (or 60 or 70) percent of the parenting/household duties, stay-at-home dads are growing in numbers. And not because they have to, but because they want to!
Although my own father was not the primary caregiver in our house, I realize now that his involvement in our family led me to marry a man that would take on his fair share. My own dad would cook dinner whenever he could, and still happily does the mountain of dishes after a meal. He never got to be a stay-at-home dad because his job was so demanding, but we certainly got to spend more time with him than other kids got to spend with their dads. When I was 16 I went on vacation to the UK alone with my dad - it seemed completely normal to us, but probably unheard of in some families.
I know that my husband's equal involvement in parenting is having a huge impact on my girls' development. Although they still run to Mommy when they're hurt, their closeness with Daddy means that they have a positive male role model in their lives. And science is telling us more about the impact that fathers have on daughters:
In one cohort study, the researchers found that "the quality of fathers' involvement with daughters was the most important feature of the early family environment in relation to the timing of the daughters' puberty."
Other impacts fathers can have on daughters?
Lower stress response
positive relationships into adulthood
So taking time to reflect on Father's Day this year, I want to give a good ol' feminist shout out to the amazing men in my life - my own Dad, my incredible husband, my father-in-law and my brother (who is parenting a brand new little guy!) Thank you for raising strong daughters (and sons!), and for taking the time to build close relationships with your daughters.