To All the Co-Parenting Dads
People regularly ask me, “How do you do it all?” It’s simple: 1) I don’t do it all, and 2) my husband supports me.
After nine years of marriage (and over five years of dating before that), I can say that Jim is not only a great man, but also a great husband and father. And there are two main reasons why: he has always seen me and treated me as an equal, and he has always been happy to serve me and our family.
My thoughts, needs, feelings, passions, and ideas are equally important as his. Unfortunately, this kind of equality in marriage simply isn't all that common. When I was marrying Jim at the tender age of 21, I had no idea how important this lived-out equality is in marriage, but I did understand that Jim saw me as a whole person. He has always respected and encouraged me, and called out my gifts. Even more? My thoughts, needs, feelings, passions, and ideas do not intimidate him. He wholeheartedly supports me—and I wholeheartedly support him.
The thing I’ve grown to realize over the years is that Jim simply treats all women this way. I’ve been utterly impressed with the way he speaks to his female family members, coworkers, and friends. This makes me beam with pride.
When we became parents nearly 7 years after we got married, Jim naturally transitioned into fatherhood. Honestly, my favorite part of being a parent is watching him with Lucy. I know he would have been overjoyed by either a son or daughter, but I am incredibly thankful he has a daughter—or perhaps, I’m thankful that our daughter has him as dad. More girls need dads like him, men who see women as equals: smart, incredible, and capable of anything. That’s what’s going to change things for women—when we have more men who will cheer us on and open wide doors of opportunity to us and invite us to the table as if we’re equals (because we are).
But I know if we ever have a boy, Jim will impact him just as much because he’ll show him how to be a real man, a real husband, a real father—who treats everyone equally. There have been studies that show that when dads are engaged in the housework and childcare, children grow up to be stronger and with more aspirations. Here’s a few “secrets” about our marriage. When we were making our very first apartment into a home, Jim and I talked about household duties. I like to cook, so I got that task along with grocery shopping. I hate doing dishes, so Jim stepped up. In nine years of marriage, I have rarely done dishes, but when I have, it’s been an act of love to Jim whose love language is acts of service. When I started working full time five years ago, Jim stepped up to take on more of the housework, namely the laundry. He patiently learned the ins and outs of washing my temperamental clothing, and he lovingly does our laundry week in and week out, folding it all perfectly. I have, of course, helped with laundry, but I am not kidding when I say he does nearly all of it.
In the same vein, I have done nearly all the cooking and grocery shopping in our 9 years of marriage. But every once in a while Jim wants to try a new grilling technique or roast vegetables for an imaginative salsa or simply help out when I’m sick or getting home late from work. Because here’s the thing: we love each other, and we do share the load. So when one of us needs a little help in a busy season, the other one jumps to help without even being asked. This is servanthood. This is mutual submission. (By the way, this is pretty uncommon: on average, women do 33% more of the housework.)
The last few months have been incredibly busy for me. I’ve been working on an amazingly exhilarating project for work that’s forced extra hours and lower-than-usual mental capacity while home. This is not ideal. Even though it’s work I love, it’s not a sustainable rhythm. But Jim has filled in all the gaps. He’s left work early to get Lucy, called in help from family, cooked dinner a few nights, and even run errands. And all without complaint, all without asking if he should. He just does it.
Here's the truth about working parents: we can only do what we do because we have help. That help in our case comes primarily from each other and our incredible families and friends. Without this kind of help, no working parent can do all they do.
Now that my busy season is (finally) ending, we’re spending a few extra moments breathing, catching up, and just being together. We both know he’s going to have a busy season next month at work, so we’re gearing up for it. In the meantime, though, we’re just enjoying this slower pace of life, enjoying each other’s company, enjoying the sweet moments as a family.
I say all this because I want to celebrate Jim this Father’s Day. He deserves some celebration! I also want to call out something. Jim never babysits Lucy—he parents her. Jim isn’t “out of his element” at the grocery store—he’s actually right in his sweet spot: serving someone. As a woman, I’m keenly aware of the prejudices women face. But I forget all that men face, too—especially when they simply try to parent well or treat their wives as equals. Let's stop acting like fathers can barely make it through the day without their wives swooping in to save them. Let's stop acting like they're disinterested parents who don't do any of the "real parenting." Let's start thanking them for all they do and treating them as equal parents.
I’m incredibly thankful that Jim is willing to go against the grain to be a great man and a great father. This Father’s Day, may we celebrate the men who parent well, cheering them on as they make the world a better place, one diaper change at a time.