Parenting is hard work. I’m sure most would agree with that. It’s often us moms who get the recognition for all of the work that is put into raising children, mostly because in our society mothers are regarded as the primary caregivers. In conversations with other moms, I often find myself talking about how difficult being a mom can be, the sacrifices made, the energy it takes, etc. All those things are valid; being a mom is hard .
Recently, as I was thinking about how often I have expressed those exact sentiments to Tommy, a new thought entered my mind. Yes, I know that my role as mom has been hard and full of sacrifice, but what about my husband? Hasn’t being a dad been just as hard and just as full of sacrifice? I wondered what Tommy thought of his role of dad. I wanted to know his perspective, a perspective that I feel like often gets overlooked, and one that we have never really discussed as a couple. One day over dinner, I asked Tommy some questions about fatherhood and here’s what he had to say:
What has been most difficult about being a father?
- Connecting with both me and Jaden – Early in Jaden’s life, Tommy found it difficult to connect with both of us, primarily due to breastfeeding. In those early weeks, Jaden was nursing every two hours, sometimes more often than that. Since he couldn’t provide nourishment and comfort to Jaden in that way, Tommy felt like he was’t connecting with his son outside of diaper changes. For him, this led to feelings of inadequacy. In addition, as Jaden’s overall awareness of the world around him increased he has been less inclined to be comforted by Tommy when I have been available to nurse him.
- Time – Tommy feels that he often does not have enough time with Jaden due to his work schedule and the baby’s bedtime. After we established a schedule with Jaden, he was ready for bed around 6 pm. There were days when Tommy wouldn’t get home until right before bed time, limiting the amount of dad time. We have worked our way up to a slightly later bedtime now that Jaden is older, which gives us a little more time with him in the evening. However, it still seems short to Tommy.
- Illness – It has been difficult seeing Jaden experience so many different illnesses in a short time. You can read more about that here.
- More responsibility – We now have a little life that we are responsible for. Tommy realizes that he can no longer just consider the two of us. There is now another person in our family who totally relies on us for everything.
- Providing financially – Children are expensive. No matter how much you try to save or penny pinch, having kids come with a cost. Taking care of our family financially has always been a top priority for Tommy, and it’s no different now. In fact, it’s probably more important now that we have Jaden. We have had to make sacrifices to pay for daycare and other baby essentials, along with making sure we are saving towards our and Jaden’s future. This means that we may wear those shoes we don’t like so much a little longer, we don’t buy new clothes as often as we would like, we eat at home instead of going out, or Tommy takes on a DJ gig so we have a little extra.
- Spiritual growth and development – Tommy mentioned that it has been tough to focus on his spiritual growth while balancing all of the duties associated with caring for a baby and other responsibilities.
I didn’t want to end the conversation there, only discussing the difficulties. I also wanted to know what have been the highlights of being a dad.
What has been most rewarding about being a father?
- Knowing that the Lord has entrusted a son to him – Yes, it’s a huge responsibility, but Tommy finds that fact that God saw fit to bless us with Jaden as something amazing.
- Watching Jaden accomplish so many developmental milestones – His favorites so far have been watching Jaden learn how to crawl and begin to talk. He currently knows four words, Dada (his first word), Mama, hi, and cat.
- Bonding and having Daddy time – Tommy has also enjoyed learning how to bond with Jaden in his own way. Sometimes Tommy gets in trouble for getting Jaden too excited right before bed.
- Joy – Jaden expresses so much joy each day. His happiness brings both of us so much joy.
I really appreciated the conversation that I was able to have with my husband. Often times, it’s hard for Tommy to share what he’s feeling, but I’m glad he opened up and shared all these things with me. I now have an even greater appreciation for all he does for our family. As husband, father, and leader of our home he carries a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, but he handles it all so well. For that, I am thankful. I have learned that I need to remember that being a parent is hard, for both moms and dads. Our roles and experiences may look different, but we can’t underestimate the work and effort of dads. I want to challenge you to encourage and support the dads in your life as they strive to be the best fathers they can be.