Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Fatherhood

I think he did just fine!
Many men take a very active role in child-rearing in this modern day.
There are baby-change-stations in public mens’ rooms.
And I’ve even seen a ‘Father’s Room’, complete with rocking chairs, for feeding and caring for babies and children.
It’s a good thing.
When I was growing up, it was not so.
Men were not only not encouraged to take part in the care of children.
At times, they were actually discouraged.
My dad started child-raising in the 40s. I don’t think he changed a diaper in his whole life.
Husby started fatherhood in the late 70s. He changed plenty.
And my sons rearing children in the present day? Even more.
But it’s not really the diaper-changing that I’m talking about. It’s what it represents.
A chance to take a more active role, and be closer to, their children.
My dad has observed this shift in the parenting paradigm.
With regret.
Let me tell you about it . . .
In the earlier days of our marriage, Husby and I lived in a small home that he had built. A very small home. 306 square feet.
Cozy.
In that tiny space, we still managed all of the amenities. I had my washer and drier. And even my dishwasher.
There was a miniscule front room, carpeted with tacked-down rug samples from our local carpet store.
Luxury.
One day, my dad stopped by for a chat.
I happily sat down with him in the front room.
There, between us on an otherwise tidy floor, lay a broom.
Two things stand out in the aforementioned (Oooh, good word!) statement. One, that the room was tidy. Weird. And two, that there was a broom in the middle of the carpeted floor.
But I digress . . .
Dad noticed the broom. “Um, Diane,” he said. “Why do you have a broom in the middle of your carpeted front room floor?”
I looked at it. “Oh.” Then, “Erik!”
My two-year-old bounced into the room.
“Your steed!” I said.
Erik grinned and, picking up the broom, he straddled it and ‘rode’ it out of the room.
Then I turned back to Dad.
He was shaking his head and had tears in his eyes.
“Dad! What’s wrong?”
“I never enjoyed you kids when you were little,” he said. “Never spent enough time with you. I should have.”
Dad was a product of his time. A time when men weren’t expected to take that more proactive role.
It’s a great pity.
P.S. Dad has made up for his perceived lack of involvement with his own kids by being very proactive in his grandkids’. 
It’s a beautiful thing.

16 comments:

  1. It's nice he has an opportunity to start over with his grandkids...and I'm sure they love him dearly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We don't often get a second chance! And they do!

      Delete
  2. Hindsight is easy, but going against the norms of the time is not. Heck, it's hard to even picture a different way of doing things when you are surrounded by the traditional way. I'm so glad he is enjoying his grandkids!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. Changing the stars is not an easy thing! But it's a good thing!

      Delete
  3. Grandkids are where the fun really begins...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heehee! If I'd know how much fun they were, I'd have had them first!

      Delete
  4. Oh, I can relate with this one. I don't know if my Dad ever changed diapers but he was a pretty hands on Dad for his era. I hope as grandparents we can bless the lives of our grandchildren more when with them. This was a very sweet post!
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your Dad was ahead of his time. Such a blessing for you! I live for my grandkids now! :)

      Delete
  5. Awe this is beautiful Diane, I am so glad the roles have changed so that fathers can be closer to their children... Your dad sounds like a wonderful man <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He is a wonderful man! So glad that we live now!

      Delete
  6. Oh, this is so lovely! I miss my dad something fierce--he passed away 5 years ago. I'm glad he got to know his grandchildren, though. Really beautifully written, Diane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry to hear about your dad. So happy that he got to know his grandkids. I shudder to think of having my Dad leave us. He is so precious to us!

      Delete
  7. It is indeed a beautiful thing. Men should enjoy their children more. All work and no play makes dad a dull boy. To their kids anyway.
    I'm glad there is more awareness about this now. Parenting is not just a mother thing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My hat is off to the guys who want to and can be active in their children's lives. My husband does what he can, but his job only allows him to be so active with the kids (he commutes two hours a day!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, the poor man! Two hours! It's truly amazing that he manages ANY time! My hat's off to him!!!

      Delete

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