The Modern Dad

My wife, daughter and myself sat in a long table across from a couple in their 50s. They were excited to have front row seats to the cute baby in a restaurant show.They told us about their grandkids and made faces at my daughter to make her laugh. Then my daughter, who was four-months-old at the time, spit up. The foamy white residue that didn’t travel to her shirt was left dangling on her chin. I instinctively removed a cloth from my pocket and wiped my daughter’s face clean.

The man sitting across from me commented, “Things have changed since my day.”

They have? He left me wondering if in his day, he would have just left the goo on his child’s chin and waited for his wife to clean it up. Or maybe he would have asked a waitress to wipe it off for him.

Things have changed. What makes me a good, modern and model father? After all., my parenting prowess extends beyond wiping my daughter’s chin.

I saved her from falling off a spinning tea cup in the playground. Twice!  I’ll admit I may have spun it a little too vigorously, but she’s hardy and didn’t hurt herself. And when she screamed a scream that pierced eardrums near and not so near when I told her it was time to leave the playground –  I bribed her with a cookie. I push her in a stroller while she sleeps. Strangers pass us and mouth, whisper or say aloud, “Good dad.”

I spend time with my daughter. I prevent her from getting hurt. I soothe her when she’s upset. I feed her when she’s hungry.

When I see that in writing, it doesn’t sound like a high bar to clear.

Dads tend to get  pass when it comes to child care.We show up and get noticed for putting in the minimum amount of work expected. A huge reason for this are society’s expectations for me. Men are measured by their work and careers. When men show any interest or take time away from that role, it’s considered noble.

It’s changing. It’s working under the surface. I can feel the pressure. New dads like myself don’t want to be just a good dad. We want to be great dads. We want to take our kids to stimulating activities. We want to feed our kids healthy food. We want to change more dirty diapers. Well, maybe not the last part as much.

Times are changing. The bar is being raised once again. It’s not enough to be good. It’s the time to be great.

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