When I was a kid I didn’t consider what it meant to be a dad. My parents were divorced and my early years included visits to my dad’s house every other weekend, holidays and summer vacation. He was single and I never experienced him as part of a parenting team.
My oldest child will be 10 years old this year and my youngest is 4. When I watch my four children doing life, living and struggling, experiencing joy and disappointment, I often feel that I lack a true marker of what this stage of their life should look like. I know how my life was and how I felt torn between two parents. I remember the duality of being two different children for two different people. I remember instability and small isolated moments of feeling safe.
I often think there isn’t enough written about the struggle of fathers to be all they need to be. As a mother, I honestly have no idea what it’s like to be a father. But I remember how hard my own dad tried to be everything I needed in a situation that wasn’t ideal. Now, I see my own husband showing up for our family and our children in ways I’m sure take grit and tenacity that I’ll never fully comprehend.
The work of being a father in partnership with a mother is a dance. A dance I know from my side of the pairing and I see as it plays out. My husband has shown me that I can mess up and make mistakes and he will be there to help me up. He’s been through the newborn and toddler trenches with me and we still smile at each other every morning. He stands by me while I stumble through my journey as a mother.
Now this. Parenting during a pandemic.
Nothing we’ve done during our almost 10 years of parenting has compared to being in our home all day every day for days, weeks and now months on end with our children and each other. My children’s dad, my husband, has been working 10 hour days from a little home office just off the kitchen for almost 12 weeks now.
I have consistently been struck by just how much the weight of our family’s well-being rests on his shoulders. He has been working to keep our finances afloat, to provide a stable income for his employees, holding his business above water and to help me not fall apart while I hold everything else together. I don’t know that anything could have prepared me for pandemic parenting but I’m so grateful to have a partner who continues to show up for this adventure.
When I set out to write a piece on dads I imagined a bit more feel-good fluff. Does the world really need one more fluff piece? In this experience of life where people are often at their breaking point more than once every day, I’d like to shine a light on all the dads working to show up for their kids, their partners, their seemingly fragile and cracking world.
Dad’s, we see you. We see you going to work amongst fear or scraping together resources to keep your family afloat until you can work again. We see you sealing your anger and pain and worry into a place away from the world. We see you holding it together, showing up and doing it in only the ways that you can.
To all the dads totally killing it at parenting and partnering and being in this world of constant change and upset – thank you.
Thank you for being the shoulders that hold the weight. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for being the fathers who are bringing a generation through these historic times.
Happy Father’s Day!
Amber is a mother, wife, writer and dirt road philosopher. She hales from small-town Idaho and makes her home on a spread of dirt in Eastern Washington with her husband and four wild children. She is dedicated to a life of contribution and finding the pieces of our journeys that connect us all in our greatness.
The imperfect and incomplete nature of life is often overwhelming and stifling. By choosing it and owning it, Amber has taken some of the dirtiest situations and spun them into lessons to live by. Her greatest inspirations are her children and their dirt antics. Learn more about Amber by visiting www.amberjjensen.com