As a mother, I’m at a loss to explain fatherhood. How could I? I only see it from the outside. Around Mother’s Day, this year I was flooded with memes and sentiments on strong women and how moms do it all and honestly, that’s true. I work hard. My days seem endless. I’m never alone. My children—whether I’m writing or running errands or using the bathroom—are always with me. Sometimes, that’s hard. Really hard. Sometimes, I would look at my husband in his dress clothes and his solo commute and think to myself, “he’s got it so easy.” But there are always two sides to every story.
For my husband, his moments alone with the children during the work week are fleeting. He leaves before they get up in the morning and is home well after they’ve completed their days. Where I feel overwhelmed by the whining and fighting and constant chaos, he is hearing about it all secondhand. He doesn’t see the silly dances, the laughter, the tears. He misses the fired-up conversations about school and sports and friendships gone south. By the time he gets home, the drama is over. Weekends are spent shuttling children to and from activities with very little quality downtime. We try our best to carve out time for family dinners, but with six children, something inevitably comes up. So often people will look at our family and smile and say to me “I don’t know how you do it.” There is a simple answer to that. I don’t do it alone.
My husband works so that I can be home to raise the children. He works long hours so that we can live the lives that we live. He works hard so that the children can participate in the activities that they adore. Without fanfare, often without gratitude. With motherhood ever in the spotlight, fatherhood is often left to twist in the wind.
Yesterday my husband said something that struck me to the core. We were talking about the children when he commented, with a hint of sadness, that the kids only seek him out when they want something. I almost glossed over this statement, dismissing it as I pushed on with my tirade over teen attitudes. I almost missed the way, with his eyes cast downward, that his shoulders slumped and his tone became melancholy. I almost missed this simple key to understanding the acute differences between mothers and fathers.
With me, the children share their days, their hopes, their dreams. With me, they are vulnerable, they share boo-boos and nightmares and are always up for a snuggle. It wasn’t until that seemingly insignificant passing comment that I started to understand that HE MISSES THAT. Every evening when he comes home and asks about my day and I roll my eyes and complain that the children were relentless and I didn’t get a moments peace… he didn’t experience any of that. He missed out on the first steps, the breakups, the long talks over a glass of juice after school. He missed that moment of pride and excitement when my son burst through the front door to announce that he aced the exam in the math class that he had been struggling in all year. Everything that I took for granted, was a moment he would have treasured.
It wasn’t until today that I realized my envy was misplaced. That his life is not one of escape. That my life is not a sentence to monotony. Our lives are two parts of a whole. While I miss my days of solitude, he yearns for the children to pile around him sharing their adventures. While I envy his quiet commutes, he misses the laughter and the sing-a-longs and even the fights in the backseat as we drive to soccer practice. We are all making sacrifices. We are all stuck in the endless cycle of “have to’s” and “musts”. We are all given to bad days, to monotonous schedules, and snapping in anger. We are all just trying to make it while hopefully raising children who will become kind and caring citizens.
This Father’s Day, let’s take a moment to celebrate, not because the Hallmark cards at the local drug store say we should, but because celebrating achievements makes life worthwhile. Maybe Mother’s Day wasn’t the spectacular event you were hoping for, but put your pride aside and take this day to celebrate the founder of your family. Surround him with his children and everything that comes with it… the laughter, the chaos, and the joy. Don’t just send him packing with his golf clubs… go out there and cheer him on. Because Dads love their families. They need their families. And let’s face it, Mamas, we need them too.
Fun Ways to Celebrate Dad (most events require pre-registration and may require a fee):
1. Pachyderm Music Lab (Charlotte, NC) 5 half-hour lessons for guitar or bass $175
2. AR Workshop (Waxhaw, NC) Father’s Day DIY Workshop, June 16, 2-5 p.m.
3. Sweet Repeats (Waxhaw, NC) Father’s Day DIY Toolbox, June 15, 2 p.m.
4. Top Golf (Charlotte, NC) Register for June 16th
5. Golf Club At Ballantyne (Charlotte, NC) Register for June 16th
6. Star Wars Music in the Park (Symphony Park–Charlotte, NC) June 16th for tickets go to charlottesymphony.org
7. Free River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center (Charlotte, NC) June 14th and 15th starting at 7 p.m.
8. Queens South (Waxhaw, NC) Father’s Day Brunch 6/16 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
9. Pelican’s Snoballs (Waxhaw, NC) Father’s Day Special: purchase one regular snoball, receive a kiddie snoball for free. 318 E. South Main Street, Waxhaw.
Facebook ‘Pelican’s Snoballs of Waxhaw’
10. DreamChaser’s Brewery (Waxhaw, NC) Father’s Day pop-up shop and Vendor Fair Saturday 6/8 from 12-4 p.m. Open on Father’s Day 1-8 p.m., family friendly.
11. Hickory Tavern (Wesley Chapel, NC) Father’s Day Special: register to win a Yeti Cooler; every father receives a $10 bounce-back coupon good for the next visit. 6400 Weddington Road, Wesley Chapel.
12. Belle Grille (Matthews, NC) Father’s Day Brunch Buffet w/Live Music. June 16 10:30-6 p.m. 3022 Weddington Road #100, Matthews.