Why Dads Come in Second – but a Strong Second


photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc
photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc

Moms are smart.

They’re brave. They’re instinctive. They’re inspiring.

They’re giving and forgiving. And we dads – and men, in general, regardless of your status of having or having not spawned – must give them their props.

You have the inside track on parenting, in nature. Babies grow inside you. They are nourished by you. They’re suckled and protected and taught by you.

Dads, no matter how intent our actions, or sharp our awareness, or keen our sense of our place in a family, can’t know parenthood from that perspective.

Not even as a seahorse.

That doesn’t make it any easier.

 

photo credit: johnb/Derbys/UK. via photopin cc
photo credit: johnb/Derbys/UK. via photopin cc

Someone hit a goose with their car on my way home a few months ago. I passed by just after it happened.

This is just part of spring – you’ll see small birds chasing hawks to protect a nest; baby birds fallen out of nests, relying on nature and luck to survive; a family a ducks walking, mom in front, dad in back, babies in between.

My first thought was, “I hope that was the dad. So that the babies have their mom still, to survive.”

Plus, wouldn’t it be the dad who wandered out on a four-lane road, most likely?

I know our rep.

But being exterior, not possessing the instincts you do, isn’t always a convenience. Sure, it must be for guys who can just leave their mark and move on. Nature lets us off the hook sometimes.

Sometimes, we don’t want to be let off the hook, though.

I remember Jason. I’m pretty sure he’s passed on long ago. He was a ladies’ man, and made no bones about it. He was a real rover. He made his rounds around the neighborhood, spreading his seed in a wide radius. There were many pups out there who kind of looked like this tallish, cocoa-brown muttish player.

 

photo credit: Perry McKenna via photopin cc
photo credit: Perry McKenna via photopin cc

He was a dog. Literally.

And there were many puppies who could have called him dad. He didn’t have to stay. He didn’t have to park it in anyone’s dog house but his own.

Not all dudes are wired this way. Even when we struggle, even when we get things wrong, even when it looks as if we’d rather be doing something else, there’s something innate about being a dad that is so intertwined in who we are, that job – as dad – can’t possibly wander far from the center of our hearts.

Even when we’re, for all the world to see, mismatched. We know we can’t do things the way mom does. That’s OK. We’ll do things the way dad does. Even if it’s the remedy of putting down newspaper on every spill and mess, like Adam Sandler’s character in “Big Daddy,” we’re at least doing something.

Sonny Koufax, Sandler’s character in “Big Daddy,” decided at one point to allow the child in his foster care to do whatever he wanted to. Dress the way he wanted to. Even pick out his own name – Frankenstein.

“You can do whatever you want to do, buddy,” Sonny told the kid, “and I’ll show you some cool sh*t along the way.”

I’m not sure we dads should do it like Sonny Koufax (or at least, openly admit it), but when we let the leash out a bit and allow the kid to learn from her mistakes, it’s by design, often, and not just apathy.

No, it might not be the mom way.

That’s a tried and true way.

A way that probably has a great deal to do with the human race even existing today.

But, like mom, we dads will “show them some cool sh*t along the way.”

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21 thoughts on “Why Dads Come in Second – but a Strong Second

  1. You said suckle. *giggles*
    Very sweet post, and so true. Love the dad’s perspective. I’m very lucky that my husband is SO involved he often makes me look bad! My boys are the luckiest ever to have such an amazing father. I found it profoundly interesting that you hoped the dead bird was the dad so they would still have their mother. I think I would have thought that, too. I mean, it makes sense even though it’s sort of sad. Even in human tragedy I would think that.

    1. I like the second-grade boy side of you.

      I think we dads have the reputation of Mr. Good Times, while moms are the ones who have to enforce veggie eating. It’s not always true. We do add structure, too, although it often looks different.

      That said, I realize how a dad just isn’t enough. I’m not afraid to say that. And hopefully, that was dad goose who probably met his maker that day. So long as mom is still around.

      There are things we dads just can’t do, even more important than french braids and knowing what constitutes a “cute” pair of boots.

  2. This made me laugh and it also made me teary, for a couple reasons.
    1. My kids don’t have a dad that inherently wants to stick it out and figure it out. Not really. He pretends, but in his heart, he wants to take the out.
    2. Posts like this remind me,that not all men are like this. Thankfully, I’m surrounded by strong, amazing men in my family that redeem my faith in men, but outside my family, men/fathers like you restore it even more.
    3. That part about hoping it was the dad goose that got hit was such a sweet sentiment…although also sad.
    4. Thanks for appreciating moms so much and giving credit where credit is due…while also being an amazing dad yourself!
    Great post!

    1. I can’t speak for nor condemn another man for his choices, but I can’t imagine ever taking the out. And I know I know your kids only though your blog, but wow – I can’t imagine wanting to take an out if they were my sons.

      We men do enough damage to our credibility, and a lot of what is thought of us as fathers can’t be helped. What we can do is be present. Be strong. Be giving and forgiving. Not just to our kids, but in general. Because the kids are always watching.

      It hurt to write the goose part, actually. I feel like such a strong advocate for men and dads, but I know reality too. Those goslings are in better care with mom.

      1. Honestly, that goose part hurts my heart. But I admire your ability to acknowledge that thought. There are many wonderful men in the world and it is unfortunate that the bad ones seem to over shadow the good ones at times. You’re absolutely right though that being present, strong, giving and forgiving is an important place to be. The kids are watching and they notice everything…even at 2 years old. It’s amazing.

        A man’s role in the life of a child carries so much more weight than we sometimes want to admit, and I wish more men understood the power they are either using or abusing. It matters. Thanks for being one of the good ones!

      2. The easy thing is to condemn those who consciously do bad as dads – but what bothers me is that those of us who try and do good are sometimes seen as incompetent and pretty much a nuisance because we can’t do stuff on our own.

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