Last night Tom (my partner in crime and parenting) returned from a week and a half of travel. During that time I did my part to hold down the fort and care for our two kids, make sure everyone ate enough, slept enough, got their teeth brushed, got dressed (eventually) and didn’t injure themselves or anyone else. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it also really made me appreciate all the things Tom does to help our household run smoothly. I had no idea how often he brushed Beatrice’s teeth until he was gone and I had to brush them twice a day, every day. I kept thinking, “Didn’t I just brush these teeth?” So many little things went unnoticed until they suddenly reappeared on my to-do list.
This got me thinking about the role of dads in the parent vortex. Some dads are indeed irresistibly engulfed by being a parent, some are stay-at-home dads, others have their daily or weekly routines that they do with their kids. They brush teeth, they change nappies, they take kids to swimming or skating or soccer. Today’s dads are involved, they are emotionally available, they are researching and reading and learning about parenting philosophies. Just one generation ago it was not uncommon for dads to be completely uninvolved with childbirth and baby care, now they’re interviewing doulas and doing full-time diaper duty.
Parents often need more support than just each other to make their lives run smoothly. Childcare providers, playgroups, preschool teachers, friends and extended family – all provide valuable support. However, when our supports are working well they tend to become less visible. Not necessarily taken for granted, but we just aren’t immediately aware of everything that they do to create space, time and energy for our own projects, for work and rest, for all the shoelaces that get tied when we’re not looking. For the teeth that are brushed without us even noticing.
Who is your most valuable parenting support? Why?