Yesterday afternoon, Jake packed the kids and headed south on a trip to his mom and dad’s house for a little summer adventure. They’ll spend most of their week wandering in the woods and swimming until their toes and fingers are pruny. These are the dream days of summer.
Upon hearing of this great adventure, one might be tempted to start oohing and ahhing about how brave he is (he is certainly brave) and how great he is (he is certainly great). Can dads be alone with their kids all day in a car? And while I agree that anyone who willingly puts themselves in a car with 4 young kids for 8 hours without backup is pretty amazing, Jake is quick to dismiss any accolades. To him, it’s just what dads do.
Over these past 11 years, Jake and I have lived a somewhat unconventional adult life. We’ve travelled a lot. We have had a lot of kids in a short period of time while also taking turns pursuing graduate degrees. Jake and I are still learning the art of managing the tensions while also engaging in somewhat non-traditional roles. We’ve both been the breadwinner. We’ve both been stay-at-home parents. And together we’ve dealt with the cultural backlash of well-meaning bystanders.
One of my favorite stories is when Jake took Ada to the pediatrician for her 3 day check-up. When the appointment rolled around, I was still feeling pretty tired and lazy, so Jake said he would just take Ada up to the doctor himself.
When he arrived, the nurses and doctor were floored. Where’s the mom? Why isn’t she here? They rushed him ahead of everyone else, telling him not to worry about filling out the paperwork (“Oh honey, no need to worry about this paperwork. Your wife can do it when she comes next time.”).
When he got home, we had a good laugh about it.
“So,” I asked, “Did you end up filling out the paperwork?”
“Are you kidding me? No way!”
We laughed even harder, knowing he’ll do anything to avoid filling out paperwork, even if it means leaning into a nurses’ false understanding of his capabilities.
While we’ve come to expect innocent comments from people who may be taken off guard by seeing a dad with four kids, there have been pointed comments and conversations that have been harder to laugh off.
One of Jake’s biggest pet peeves is when people treat him differently because he is being a dad. His belief is that if they wouldn’t applaud me for doing it, they shouldn’t be applauding him either.
And that’s one of the (many) reasons I love this very capable man. He is a dad who is all in. He loves his kids ferociously and is fully committed to the teamwork of parenthood.
He loves by building towers.
He loves by creating picture frames out of cardboard, finding the perfect shade of gold sparkle that will meet our little artists’ vision of the perfect picture frame.
He loves by shooting baskets, playing monster, and pushing the kids way-too-high on the swings at the playground.
He loves by volunteering in the kids’ classroom.
He loves by taking them to doctor and dentist appointments.
He loves by teaching them about square roots and probability.
He loves by introducing them to new music and swing dancing with them.
He loves by disciplining and shepherding and coaching them through life’s many challenges.
He loves by laying next to sweet Anaya every. single. night. as she falls asleep, because she only wants her daddy.
He loves by seizing the many opportunities to connect with the kids.
He does all of this because he’s a dad. He believes that if a man and a woman have kids, they both equally share the joy and responsibility of parenting. As Sharon Hodde Miller wrote on her Facebook page about her husband, Ike:
My husband is one of many good men who are raising the bar to where it always should have been. They honor us not by confessing they could “never do what we do” but by getting their hands dirty and doing it with us–or even instead of us.
I wholeheartedly agree. I’m so thankful for a husband who is a full-team player, and for other dads who are the same. This is kingdom work!