I hesitate to write this column when I know it will be printed well after Father’s Day has passed. The reason I didn’t write about Father’s Day (or Mother’s Day for that matter) is because I am barely aware of the day of the week let alone keep track of holidays or birthdays.
My brain is always zeroed in on what two little boys need at any given moment, or what my husband is trying to tell me, or what needs tending to in the house, or what I wish I could be doing. It doesn’t have a lot of time to focus on any one thing, so I tend to forget and overlook many things. Calendars and to do lists don’t help if you forget to look at them.
However, I feel compelled to write it anyway. I write much about motherhood, but I have failed, so far, to give much credit to fatherhood. Without my children’s father, I wouldn’t have my children, and without his help, I would be even more frazzled than I already am.
On Father’s Day I read an article in the New York Times titled, “Now, Dad Feels as Stressed as Mom.” It talks about how fathers are suffering from the work/home balance just as much as working mothers are. This is nothing new to us.
My second son was due to be born the week before my husband’s Fall classes were supposed to begin. This week is full of meetings for him, and some of them take place at other campuses, which are a 1-2 hour drive from our home. We also had a thirty-minute drive to the hospital.
Given the fact that my first baby came very quickly, and I arrived at the hospital when I was 10 centimeters dilated, it was important for my husband to stay home with me. I didn’t have anyone else available to drive me to the hospital. Yet, he was met with some skepticism from co-workers who felt he could make the meetings and just keep his cell phone handy.
Likewise, I know it’s difficult for him at times to keep up the demands of his work and also the demands placed on him at home. He works from home part of the time, and there are two little boys who are making noise and wanting his attention. Somehow he gets the work done, but I know it’s not easy.
There is a stereotype about professors that they have an easy life because they only go to work to teach classes, and then they have the summers off, etc. This isn’t true of my husband. He teaches extra classes to help us out, and he never takes the summers off. He has a lot of committee work that he is required to do, and he spends much of his time at home grading papers and answering e-mails from students. (Unfortunately, a big portion of this work is dealing with plagiarism and unfounded complaints.)
When the responsibilities of his classes are completed, he uses his time to work on a long-term book project. He could quite easily work seven days a week, and he often does, though sometimes he declares a day off. On these days he usually works around the house!
He helps me by doing all the grocery shopping, and he takes my three-year-old with him when he goes. He mows the lawn each week, takes out the trash, cleans the cat litter, gives the three-year-old a bath each night and puts him to bed while I deal with the baby. Sometimes he does the dishes. Of course, he takes time to play with the children too, and he has changed more than his share of diapers.
He always wants to make sure his children (and me) are happy and have the things we want, if it’s possible for us to get them. He is frugal but also giving, and he always demands the best. Sometimes I worry he spoils the boys, but I know there are worse things than having a doting father.
Not to mention he has to put up with me and my scattered brain. The article also mentions that mothers underestimate the contributions of the father, and I believe this goes both ways. Though we love our children, parenthood adds an incredible amount of stress to one’s life. Whether a mother or father, it’s hard to juggle kids with the rest of your life no matter what your situation. (My hat is off to couples who both work and especially to single parents.)
So, honey, thank you for all you do and all the things I fail to notice that you do. You are a wonderful father and husband, and I’m so very glad that my children have someone like you who will love them the way they deserved to be loved. You go out of your way, and for that reason, you have my heart.
Shelli Bond Pabis is a Winder resident and a columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.