This weekend my husband and I went to Ikea to wander around. Apparently there was a lot of other people who had that idea as well. Maybe it’s the lure of Ikea’s Swedish meatballs that draws people in. Or maybe it’s their bright colors and fun gadgets that do the trick. Or maybe it’s the fact that Ikea feels 50 degrees cooler inside their store than in the blistering Arizona heat. Whatever the reason – it was packed.
As Jason, Aliya and I made our way through the sea of people I found myself doing one of my favorite things; people watching. Looking around I was struck by the amount of dads that were there with their families. I felt like it had been a long time since I had seen that many dads in one place (minus Sunday mornings at church). We even ran into a friend of ours who introduced us to his wife and little boy. Jason and I smiled as they talked to us about their little boy and the upcoming birth of their second boy. I couldn’t help but notice how proud this father was and how happy he was.
After leaving Ikea I couldn’t shake the image of all the dads that I saw there. I wasn’t sure why I couldn’t stop thinking about it, or why it mattered to me, until later that night. I realized how HAPPY it made me to see fathers with their kids.
As a mom I will be the first to say that there is NOTHING like the power of a mothers love. But as a woman who grew up without a dad I will also be the first to say that there is NOTHING compared to an engaged, loving father. Moms undeniably have a special way of doing things; kissing boo boos, wiping tears, making everything they do reflect love for their family. While most dads may not be as equipped to do the “gentler” things in life that moms seem to effortlessly do, they are more efficient at the subtleties in life. A mom can never replace how a daughter feels when she knows her dad loves her. A mom can never truly understand the physical/hormonal changes a boy goes through and really sympathize with him. A father is your children’s first example of how a man should act.
Now before all the single moms have a conniption, please hear me out. I was a single mom at one time and in no way am I diminishing your role. I just feel that society has placed SO MUCH on the importance of a loving mother and so little on the dads. In reality, there are a lot more hands-on dads out there than the world gives them credit for. Why is that? Have we placed a stereotype on men that we just assume they are: 1. Going to be an absent father, 2. Not going to be a good father or 3. Fathers can’t do anything right? As mothers have we put ourselves up on pedal stools thinking that we are the know all/end all and men are idiots?
I look at my husbands interactions with our daughter and know, with all my heart, there is no way I can ever replace that. Jason may not be the most tender-hearted, cuddly-est dad out there, but let me tell you this: when it’s 1:00 am and our daughter wakes up with 104 temperature and is shaking – he is at her crib and taking her in his arms to sit with her all night. He is the one putting butterfly wings on his head and singing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” with his daughter. He is the one that will show his daughter the type of man she will want to marry. That love, that special bond they have – it’s special for a reason; because it’s her daddy.
If you’re a dad reading this I want you to know something – YOU ARE IMPORTANT. Whether you’re a single dad, a step dad, a part-time dad or a full-time dad, you are irreplaceable. Every word, every moment and every touch with your child matters. Don’t let anyone try to downplay your part in your child’s life. You have such an impact on them, your daughter and/or your son. Everything you do is meaningful, so take your role seriously.
A special thanks to my husband, Jason. After raising four boys and being a great step dad to my son – you have done wonders in parenting our baby girl. I am so humbled when you listen to me when I tell you my fears about raising our daughter and how you step up and parent in a way that puts those fears to rest. I love you, my butthead.