This Sunday is Mother's Day, a day we traditionally honour and celebrate the mothers in our lives. Moms, grandmoms, great-grandmothers, step-mothers, adopted moms, surrogate mothers, mothers-to-be: they all get at the very least a nod of appreciation (if not a full-out display of love and affection).
So they should, of course. But I have been thinking more and more of the unofficial 'mothers' who never get recognized on Mother's Day, and I'm talking about the dads.
This is not to say that dads are mothers in the truest sense of the word. They will always be first and foremost a father -- and as such, will always place most importance overall on their interactions with their kids as it concerns their being a father. But for some families, particularly for those who have lost a mother due to death or separation or some other form of difficulty, dads are playing both parental roles to the best of their ability.
Let me pause to say that I also recognize women do these very same things (act in dual parental roles), but let me save that blog article for Father's Day when I recognize mothers.
Back to the fathers. These guys are moms to their kids, all while they are still being that incredible father they always were. I can think of one such dad close to our own family's heart who lives this reality. He is currently dad and mom to his girls (girls who are still needing his love and attention in both a maternal and paternal way), as well as he is doing what his girls' mom formerly did for them prior to her death.
As I watch the various dads I am coming to know and truly appreciate, many of whom have lost wives to cancer, I can't help but observe the grace with which they have handled the passing on of their spouse. I am amazed and humbled to see that being a mother has been added to their job description. In true motherly-form, they are willing to do what it takes to be there for their kids.
What a legacy they leave for their beautiful families.
These guys are doing things they never use to do (as per the varied division of labour that occurs in any given family), and they are doing some of the things that Mom only once did. And playing these dual roles, solo; without the benefit of another partner to complement their parenting.
Things like being that sole parent there when their kids get home from school.
Things like planning birthday parties, attending festival performances and watching shows they aren't accustomed to watching.
Things like attending meetings, appointments and practices without the advantage of tag-teaming with their other parenting counterpart.
Things like letting their kids know it is okay to cry -- because they do too.
Things like arranging work schedules around their children.
Things like brushing hair and putting up ponytails.
Things like being that soft, warm place their kids can fall when life gets rough -- because kids need this sometimes.
Are these aspects of parenting solely mom's domain? Of course they are not. Surely, there are fathers out there who take charge in all these areas at the best of times, freeing up their wives to do other just as important parental tasks. But for those dads who NEVER had to take leadership in some of these areas before (or weren't quite comfortable assuming this predefined role), this is new territory for them. These are unchartered waters.
And the fact that they are doing these new tasks solo is what endears them to me, a mother myself.
Rather than being criticized, these dads need to hear the words that they are doing an amazing job at parenting their children -- playing the role of both partners in the absence of their female counterparts.
To all the dad-moms out there: "I know Father's Day is coming up, but it is never too early to say that we appreciate you. As moms, we support you. You are doing an absolutely fabulous job at being there for your kids. Keep on keeping on, Dad. You make us all proud to be a parent."
Happy Sunday to one and all -- mothers, fathers or otherwise. And for all those dads out there who are both dad and mom: "you've got this, man."
We're all rooting for you.