Persephone: Parent

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Happy Father’s Day

on June 15, 2014

The following is a post fot my father, a man who I think I’ve only really started to learn about in the past year since I became a mum.

My dad wasn’t like most dads and I don’t mean that he was one of a kind or the best dad ever. By the time I started school, in the late 80s, my mum and dad swapped familial roles and he became the house-husband, she worked 9-5 and he was the stay at home dad. I’m not sure what percentage do it now, but 30 years ago he was the only one in my school.

I never really realised what it meant. I spent my teens disagreeing with their role reversal. It never occurred to me exactly what my dad had given up.

It’s not just about an independent man giving up his job (it was never a career) or his own supply of income; my father never seemed interested in that. My dad gave up his social life. And not in the same way that stay at home mums give up theirs.

My dad never had friends. He never went out on an evening or weekend when mum could have stayed home with me. Why? Where was he supposed to meet friends? I’ve made friends at baby groups, grabbing coffee or arranging playdates with other mums. Would I have happily chatted away with a dad? Would I invite a dad around for coffee?

I can picture my dad standing at the school gates, waving me off of on my first day with a line of mummies next to him, a line of mummies who immediately bond over the loss of their baby who’s growing up. Those mummies start chatting, pop to the nearest’s home during the day whilst their babies are in school. My dad would never be invited. I don’t think either party would have felt comfortable.

How many people are comfortable being friends with the opposite gender?

By the time I reached 11, my best friend lived opposite me and her single mum and my stay at home dad became friends. A few years later he started working nights for a bit of pocket money. He was always home in time to organise breakfast, to see me off to school. Then he would be awake to welcome me home from school, cook me dinner and he was always there for me to say goodnight to – he went to work after I was in bed, he slept and cleaned and kept the house tidy in the hours I was in school.

If I could be half the mother that he was, I’ll be mighty proud.

And it’s fathers like him, and my husband, that deserve to have a Father’s Day and not have it undermined or taken over by single mothers.

~ P

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