I'm tired all the time. I am constantly multitasking. Cooking, cleaning, brushing hair, fighting the "Eat Your Vegetables" wars, volunteering in classrooms, and making time to be the wife my husband married. They're all important tasks, but they're really no big deal. I'm not special. I'm just doing my job. And nobody is surprised by this, because I'm a mom.
However, my husband is no different. He's tired too. He works all day, helps around the house, kills spiders, gives each child his undivided attention, shows them both a level of patience that I am personally not capable of, and spends time with me every evening. It can't be easy for him. But he does it. And I don't think that's any big surprise either, because it's his job.
Recently a picture of a dad with his two daughters (one in a carrier, one getting her hair styled by dear ol' dad) has made it's way around the internet. It has gone viral, been passed around everywhere, has a crazy amount of shares, likes, and favorites on social media sites. What I truly do not understand about it is this: There is not one remarkable thing about this picture. (Or at least there shouldn't be.) This guy is just doing his job.
The man who took the photo agrees with me completely. This is the title of his blog post, "I have a Dream: That People Will View a Picture Like This and Not Think It's a Big Deal." He gets it.
I cannot believe the amount of support...and hate...this guy has received.
At any given moment during my childhood, my dad could've taken this picture. Only he had twice as many daughters. He taught us how to braid hair. He painted fingernails. He dressed us for school and dance class. He cooked us (sometimes rather unorthodox) meals. He pretended to be Daddy Warbucks and danced with me down the steps of City Hall. Though he may not remember this, he bought me a tube of crazy bright purplish lipstick, so I could look "just like The Pointer Sisters." He did things like that all the time. Because he was our dad. And that was his job.
He also loved our mom. Still does. Unconditionally. And he let us know it. We knew exactly where we ranked, and it was not first. Mom had an ally. There was no divide and conquer. They were a united front. (I'll admit, that bit was sometimes completely infuriating. Especially when we wanted to stay up to watch the end of The Cosby Show.) Showing us that our mom was something to be cherished was his job too.
Those things weren't special to me as a kid. And I'm incredibly thankful for that.
I am glad I thought that a father actually parenting his kids was commonplace. I'm glad I thought having an active dad was a normal thing. I recognize now that not everyone had that experience.
My dad's relationship with his daughters helped me in ways I cannot describe. Even though at times I'm certain he thought he was raising a giant group of idiots, he never detached. He was there. All the time. Even when he had the misfortune of being the dad of four PMSing teenagers...at once.
Of course he watched football in the recliner. But, we were right next to him on the couch. Of course he spent time with the guys he worked with. But they became our family too. Of course he enjoys a good beer. And, now he and mom meet my sisters for a drink on Friday nights. He did all the manly dad stuff. But we were the priority. And we knew it. Because that was his job.
So I speak from experience to the dad behind the photo: Keep doing your job. Even if I don't think it's that special or remarkable. Keep doing it even when it involves an infant puking down your back, or explaining something to a curious daughter for the 9283793485956th time, or doing that chore your wife hates just to make her happy. Do it even if your girls don't want you to.
They may not think it's anything out of the ordinary now, but some day they'll thank you for it. Because of the example you set, your daughters are likely to marry men just like you. So your grandchildren will thank you too.