I have been writing so much recently about my journey as a Mother, and reading so much about other Mums and their incredible stories too. But it struck me today that not a great deal is often written about the men folk in these circles, and their journeys as Dads. I am a member of a fair few mummy/parenting groups online, and I get to see the bad press that men get a lot of the time. Not all negative of course, but a fair amount is. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not doubting for one minute that these women aren’t exaggerating the rubbishness of these men. There are definitely some right rotters out there (as there are women I should add). And my goodness, some of the stories I’ve heard! I’m also not doubting that men SHOULD step up when they have a family. They absolutely should. Parents both have a responsibility to their family. We aren’t “extra lucky” because Dads parent as much as the Mums. It’s just my concern their struggles aren’t often recognised or spoken about as much as us Mums are allowed to. And when I think about it, I realise how lucky I am to have such wonderful men in my life, and it seems a shame that they are hardly spoken about in this whole parenting journey malarkey (or maybe they are and I need to open my networks more). So as a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, I want to say thank you to the men (and also Dads) in my life.
Firstly; My Dad. My lovely, stable, steady, reliable, loyal, ever-present Dad. He turned 70 just the over day. He has been with my Mum for over 40 years. Just for that alone I am grateful. In this day and age, that kind of stability is quite rare. My Mum tells me he was always the patient one when my brother and I were young. He would be the one to pace up and down the landing jiggling us at night. He was the one that I’d make stay in the sea with me in Cornwall when I was little until he turned blue with cold. He was the one that read to me night after night in all his brilliant and funny voices. He always helps me out when I’m in trouble. It’s only now we realise how much our parents must have gone through bringing us up, now we are parents ourselves. All those worries and bills to pay. I was never really aware of those worries growing up. I’m gratetul.
I married into this stability lark, because my father-in-law has been married to my mother-in-law for over 50 years too. Amazing! They have been through a lot. My husband had a hole in his heart when he was younger and went through many procedures and major surgery. That kind of diagnosis 30 odd years ago had much worse implications back then. I can’t imagine how they got through all that stress. But they did, and they did it together. My father-in-law, like my own Dad, was also a pretty modern man as a Dad by all accounts. Or maybe lots of Dads were and it wasn’t spoken about then for fear of it not being ‘manly’ enough? Society leads us to believe gender roles were very polarised back then, anyway. But my father-in-law is a great cook and I’ve always seen him chipping in with housework. He tells me stories of how he’d be up most nights with the children and would sometimes commute straight to London to go to work after an “all nighter” (something my husband knows ALL about! And not just the party kind, sadly!). His reasoning was that my Mother-in-law had the kids all day, so it was his turn at night – amazing or what?!
My big brother is another pretty awesome guy, and brilliant Dad too. He’s built up his business from scratch and him and my sister in law have produced 2 of the most beautiful kids I know. All this after going through a pretty terrifying experience of testicular cancer, which now, thank goodness, is over.
Great Dads come in many forms. I’ve been reading some amazing stories recently about Dads that have come into kid’s lives later on. Dads that may not be biological fathers, but still fathers in every sense. Amazing men that love those kids so fiercely and protectively it makes my heart sing.
Some may not even label themselves as Dads at all. I have a friend that happens to be a refugee from Afghanistan. He travelled to the UK with his young brother, who was just 7 when they arrived. He has cared for him, loved him, protected him from danger and simply been there for him through so much. To me he will say he is his brother. I know that he has also taken on the role of his father, his mother, his friend and his confidant. The respect I have for that man is endless.
My best friend’s Dad is another hero of mine. He lost his wife and mother to their kids when my best friend and her sister were both very young. It’s only now, having had 2 children myself, that I realise how hard that must have been. Not only emotionally but practically and logistically too. But do you know what, he did it. And he did a damn good job. Those girls are the kindest, most lovely pair I know. You don’t get that good without awesome parenting!
And finally, I could not write this article without mentioning my husband. It would be easy for me to gush for England here, so I’ll try and rein it in a bit. All I can say is that I’m not sure what I’d have done without him. We will have been together 10 years this year. The last 4 have been very eventful, what with marriage, 2 pregnancies, the birth of 2 daughters, relocation, postnatal depression and the launch of a business (amongst other things). During my postnatal depression I was a bit of a mess (to say the least). He not only had 2 girls under 2 to cope with, but he also had a wife that was falling apart at the seams, a full time job, and to top it off he was only getting about 2 hours broken sleep a night. But he took it in his stride. I’ll never know how. All I know is that I am incredibly thankful to be married to the best husband and most brilliant and loving Dad there is.
So for every one of these amazing men, I know there are hundreds more out there just like them. They’re out there right now doing their thing, loving their family, working through their own issues and being brilliant. And to all the men I mention above and those in the world like them, I would like to say a massive thank you. You are blooming brilliant.
Sally Bunkham is founder of mumsback.com, providers of delicious hamper gifts for new mums. Take advantage of our 20% launch offer here
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