It’s a little embarrassing for both Abi and me. But the truth is, I get off easy. Like the sympathetic looks I get from older dads and grandfathers when I’m literally dragging two screaming girls through the aisles at the grocery store. Or the admiring grandmothers at the playground watching me juggle two swings while rummaging through the diaper bag for an extra juice box. Never mind that there’s a woman right next to me doing the same thing with four kids. The parenting bar is low for dads—unless you ask my wife, the only judge who counts.
When she and I first got married, I was the sole breadwinner, the one working a full-time job and two part-time gigs while the missus stayed at home. Within a couple years, she had landed a nice corporate job, giving me the more flexible schedule. When she got pregnant with Abi and then Josie, I was by her side for every OB-GYN appointment except for two—one excused absence for each child. I was there throughout both labors and was squeezing her hand through both C-sections. I was the first one to change both girls’ diapers while Mom recovered. I took two weeks of paternity leave for each and did everything short of breast-feed them. When it came time for the babies’ checkups, I was often lugging around the carrier by myself, soaking in the astonished reverence of doctors and nurses alike.
Of course, I don’t deserve the adulation. Just please remember to afford to the solo moms, like my wife, the same courtesy you would to me when they’re wrangling the calves. Although you probably won’t notice, because she usually has the situation under control.
All I can do is stifle my apprehension and work to uphold my end of the partnership. Soon that will include swimming lessons, weekend soccer games, and parent-teacher conferences. And in my spare hours, perhaps some YouTube tutorials on how to braid hair.