Thanks to Encouraging Moms Who Make Our Daddying Possible
By Scott Beller
DCG Director of Communications and Daddying Editor
One of DCG Founder Allan Shedlin’s most important daddying axioms is pretty straightforward:
Daddying does not occur in a vacuum.
Allan makes a point of emphasizing this fact during his and co-facilitator Ben King’s Armor Down/Daddy Up! workshops. Daddying occurs within a dynamic social context called "family," which, in turn, occurs in a broader social context. Supportive parenting partners are vital as they have the power to encourage or discourage each other in their roles as fathers and mothers. As Allan has written in the past, “These powers are widely unrecognized and rarely discussed.”
Well, I’m here to discuss it and, in the process, to celebrate all dadvocating moms, especially the woman who makes my being an involved dad possible: my wife and partner in parenting, Elisabeth.
Thus far on the blog, I’ve written a lot about my kids, my dad, my mom, my mentee Gabriel, all of whom have been major influencers and motivators in my daddying experience. Until now, I’ve not given Elisabeth her due, but she deserves most of the credit for the dad I’m able to be.
Encouraging, hard-working moms like Elisabeth are essential to involved dads like me. In addition to being a seemingly tireless mother, she has forged a successful but demanding IT consulting career with all the time and travel commitments that come with it. On top of that, she has always supported me working from home and appreciated me as an equal (and for a time, primary) caregiver for our daughters. I’m thankful that she understands how important that is to me and also how my being an involved dad provides so many benefits for our kids' health and well-being.
This past week was Elisabeth’s birthday, and I was again reminded that while I’ve been pretty good at praising her publicly during this annual celebration and also Mother’s Day, she really deserves my daily thanks. First, she gifted me with two amazing daughters, and then, almost as important, she gave me the gift of time.
I vowed to be a more involved dad and a more positive role model for my kids than my dad was for me. Because of Elisabeth’s daily sacrifices and the hard work she does as our family’s breadwinner, not to mention the huge amount of trust she’s put in my abilities to care for and nurture our girls from infancy, I’ve had the time, flexibility, resources, and confidence to be the kind of dad I always wanted and wanted to be.
Could I have been an involved dad had I gone back to the PR agency world I left before I’d met Elisabeth? Of course. Men who work 60- to 80-hour work weeks do it all the time (as do women/moms!). But I don’t think I would have been able to be nearly as involved in my kids' lives as I have been fortunate to be these past 13 years.
Being a work-at-home dad has allowed me, with little difficulty and without hesitation, to, among other things:
Be with my girls – day in, day out – from the moment they were born to experience all their developmental milestones and every little moment in between, usually with my camera ready
Prove to myself I could change a diaper, anytime and anywhere, including in my sleep and without a changing table!
Attend every single one of my girls’ school functions from preschool through middle school (so far), and drop them off, pick them up, or greet them when they got home
Coach both my girls’ soccer teams, simultaneously
Be there every step of the way as both my kids have developed into Tae Kwon Do black belts from 4- and 5-year-old Knee-High Ninjas.
What do those things have in common? I was able to really BE THERE for my kids and for my wife. You may remember that "being there" was the most important of Allan's "Top Five Qualities Kids Want In Their Dads," which he learned during his more than 20 years interviewing hundreds of kids, dads, and grandparents from more than 20 countries.
One other priceless benefit to being an involved dad that’s often overlooked: I was able to be there for me. Without Elisabeth, so much of what I’ve been able to do for and with my kids would not have been possible.
In years past, I’ve posted little notes of praise on social media to Elisabeth on her birthday and Mother’s Day to thank her for everything she does for our family. Here are just a few highlights – sentiments that are just as true today as when first posted, by the way:
Lazing around on the couch this a.m. while the kids watched a Netflix movie, slogging around the farm in the heat picking fruit all afternoon, dragging the kids to the pool to cool off in the early evening, then ordering take-out for me to pick up. Probably not the most glamorous or exciting birthday my wife Elisabeth's ever had but...simple pleasures. It's been that kind of no-frills year for us. Happy birthday to the woman who has endured it all and continues to work and play hard for her family – even when she's exhausted and it should be her turn to relax. We love and appreciate you.