To Dan, on his first Father’s Day

To Dan, on his first Father’s Day

While I have plenty of other posts saved in my “drafts” folder here, I wanted to take a moment today to post something special for my husband, Dan, on his first Father’s Day. It’s wild for me to think about this day a year ago: we were hiking up a nearby ridge, me slowly putting my feet one in front of other. When we reached “a view,” but surely short of the final destination, I asked Dan if it’d be alright to turn around and go visit our favorite BBQ joint instead. No one is quite themselves or as fast as their former selves at nine months pregnant, myself included. We brought Isla home from the hospital one week later.

In regards to parenting in a pandemic, there’s been so much media coverage given to moms who have dropped out of the workforce — and, rightly so. The numbers are staggering — millions either put careers on pause or stopped working entirely, so much so that there are fewer women working or looking for work since 1986. As that year precedes my life, it’s just one reason I’ve found it hard to fathom. I grew up with a working mom, and I’ve always envisioned myself as a working mom, for both practical reasons (read: money, lifestyle) and personal passions and interests. Dan and I also simply didn’t have a “choice” when it came to my returning to work; we love where we live, but that also means we’ll both continue to work full-time — a decision in which we are in total agreement. I so feel for working parents (mom or dad) who were forced to choose. While I’m sure some have made peace with those decisions, there’s undoubtedly many factors at play, be it compensation, the cost of childcare or health and safety risks when COVID was rampant.

In addition to the toll pandemic parenting has taken on the labor sector, much attention has been given to moms and new moms — increased instances of postpartum depression, as well as unusual and unexpected pregnancy experiences (as documented on this very blog). As one New York Times headline succinctly put it, America’s Mothers are in Crisis.

But again, today is Father’s Day, and that’s why I’m here. When I married Dan, I knew I was marrying a good person. I was committing my life to someone who saw me as and treated me as an equal. We are partners in a relationship, working with and loving each other.

Of course, I had hoped that Dan would also be a good dad some day as well. He is and always has been a caring, loving and most of all, an empathetic person to anyone he’s ever met. But nothing could quite prepare me for how naturally he took to fatherhood. He cried happy tears when I told him that I was pregnant, and he was my strength during labor — timing contractions all the way to the hospital and dictating my birth plan to the hospital staff as we arrived.

And, as soon as he held Isla in his arms, it’s as though I witnessed an amazing transformation right in front of me. I’m surely not the only parent with a similar experience, but in this time that has challenged and tested us all, I am so grateful for a true partner — in marriage and in parenthood. Parenting during a pandemic hasn’t been easy — fewer visits with friends and family, tossing a child back and forth between work from home Zoom calls, fewer “normal” activities — but if the past year and a half has taught me anything, it’s that who we build our life with matters. I’m not saying that by parenting with Dan that it’s been a breeze by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m grateful for the teamwork we’ve put in.

To Dan – thank you. You’ve made me a better mom simply by the way you’ve shown up as a dad. Fatherhood looks good on you.

J

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