Firstly, let me tip my hat to all Mums out there. You guys definitely have an x factor when it comes to this parenting game. Ok, maybe map navigation or putting ikea furniture together isn’t your bag (being very sweeping and sarcastic here ladies – don’t get your knickers in a knot), but bloody hell, those things are trivial when compared to the Everest that is raising kids.
Being a mum is tough. Mentally and emotionally tough.
I seem to have a handle on the whole (generic) Dad side of things. I think being a guy and all, it has sort of come relatively naturally to me. You know; rough and tumble, build shit without reading the instructions (that consequently fall down), act like a complete knob at family functions and appear proud of it, growl excessively at times, burp, fart, completely embarrass my children at all costs (personal favourite right there) and of course turn a frequent blind eye to risk taking behaviour. (if not partaking myself) That and telling horrendously stupid jokes, which let’s face it, is a huge selling point for impending fatherhood in the first place.
Ok, so luckily for my kids, I was always the chef in the house. I love cooking, so moot point. Renee and I were a team when it came to everything, including all the crappy chores that need to be done far too regularly in a family home, so as far as running a household goes, I’m pretty confident. Apart from dusting, washing colours and whites separately and ironing (what is that anyway?) we seem to motor along just nicely on a day to day basis.
What is tough I’m finding, is forcing. g myself to wear my Mum hat when the need arises.
And my Mum hat, for that matter, is ill fitting and tends to fall off quite easily.
Tackling the high drama and problems of a young child with stoic calm, compassion, nurturing and gentleness is no mean feat day after day. Especially when you don’t have a partner to share the load.
As a Dad, I tend to default to the stereotypical problem solving mode. I mean surely if I fix a problem with blinding logic and alternative solutions then said problem simply disappears and peace, love and mungbeans returns? Well you would think so; but try telling that to an 8 yr old girl when she is in a rage. Or has hurt herself. Or if the wind happens to be blowing from the East. Or it’s not. Or because you looked in her direction at the wrong moment.
No what I am learning, albeit sloooowly, is that sometimes the only thing that my baby girl needs (and Albi for that matter) is for me to be present with her. To listen to her ranting and whining. To nod my head and agree with the terrible injustice of it all. To tell her I love her and everything will be ok. To hold her and stroke her hair until the tears subside.
All the things Renee excelled at and I used to handball to her, throwing my hands up in frustration at the illogical, irrational nature of it all as I stormed off.
Because I realise now, mostly from reflection on our journey through cancer, that life isn’t always about answers and solutions. It’s also about feelings, emotions and expression. About knowing you have support when it’s needed. About being heard when it feels like no one is listening. Safety. Love. Compassion. Connection.
So yes, these things, in my opinion, are really quite difficult to lead with for us Dad’s (for me anyway). When a quick fix or easy solution to a problem is readily available, it takes alot of willpower to not speak and just be.
But I’m learning, because I have to, and because my munchkins need me to be as much Mum as I am Dad.
Aside from popping on a dress and makeup (hold the comments close friends!), emulating how Renee would deal with things is as close as I can get to being the amazing Mum she was.
So to all you Dad’s out there who are trying your hardest to be Mums as well, I salute you. You’re smashing it! Your kids (will) appreciate it and people everywhere respect you no end for all you are doing.
Keep being a bloody awesome parent!