My oldest son is a major cuddler.
We often joke that, like his Mama, his Love Language is “snuggles” and he has long been most content to curl up in a lap, or to climb into bed just to be next to you. Some of his most emotional low-points as a toddler were times when I was too busy with something to give him attention, while he cried out pitifully “But I just want you to hooooold meeeee!”
“I love you Dada…” he said the other night. We were on the floor next to his bed, as we neared the end of the bedtime routine. He sat curled up in my lap, my arms around him. He practically purrs at moments like that. I know it won’t last forever, this willingness to be so physically close, and it always makes me smile.
We’d chatted a little about the events of the day. I forget the details now, but it’s a part of the routine. And then, as is not unusual, he did what he often does, and proclaimed his love for me in our embrace. Are there any better words to hear from your own child? I don’t think so. Sure, there are many other amazing things you as a parent will always long to hear, and will make your heart beat faster or your face flush with pride. And honestly, Tucker is awfully free with his “I love you,” to the point that he occasionally says it to people who were perfect strangers only an hour previous. Heck, sometimes he seems to use it as punctuation, or as filler for awkward moments of silence.
And yet, it always takes my breath away.
“… I just love Mama more.”
This was new.
My son asked me to make Valentine’s Day cards, and what happened next will BLOW YOUR MIND! We made it printable, free.
It turned out pretty cute, if I do say so myself.
So cute that I thought — what the heck, let’s share it with parents who could use it too.
Contrary to what many people would assume, more and more fathers today say they would jump at the chance to be a stay-at-home dad, even just for a little while. That definitely jives with my own experience, where working fathers express to me that it’s something they would do if it made sense for their family. Others say they would do love to do it in theory, but aren’t sure they could pull it off very well.
Fair enough. It is sometimes tempting to warn people not to fall for a “grass is always greener” attitude, blinding to what being a full-time stay-at-home parent actually entails. Those of us who have been fortunate to do it for a while know that while it is almost certainly the most fulfilling job we’ve ever had, it’s also in many ways the hardest. It can feel far more lonely, frustrating, and thankless than anything we’ve done before. Every child is different, and every stage of a child’s development has pros and cons when it comes to the demands on their caregiver. But in general it seems like we all know that the image of the stay-at-home parent doing nothing but playing Candy Crush or watching TV all day is a total fallacy. It’s hard work. And like any vocation, to be happy and successful at it you need to be intentional about treating it like a job, with clear expectations and preparation.
Here are a few lessons I have learned along the way that I would pass on to any man who is going to be a stay-at-home dad, just thinking about being a stay-at-home dad, or maybe already is one but is finding themselves floundering.
(This is written from the perspective of a SAHD with a working wife. I’ve tried to make it as inclusive of other family arrangements as possible, but forgive me if I unintentionally exclude anyone. Honestly, moms, I think you’ll find most of these apply to you too.)
Dads (and moms) from around the country (and Canada!) descended on beautiful New Orleans last weekend, for the third annual Dad 2.0 Summit. We gathered to talk about modern fatherhood and masculinity, about raising the bar for ourselves and empowering other dads to reach for that higher bar too. We came together to have conversations about these things as they evolve in the 21st century not just with one another, but with representatives from the media, marketing, advertising and brands who want to learn about how to reach and respect dads, and more importantly to join the conversation.