Everyone agrees that dads have an important part to play in children’s lives. Of course, life doesn’t always happen like that and there may not be male role models in the family unit. My own dad died when I was 3 and our mum never met someone else, but I’d say both my brother and I ended up ok thanks to our mum’s strength and independence. As well as her trying to bring us up in the way that she and my dad had originally planned as best as possible.
Dads’ roles have changed over the years. Many take on as much responsibility as the mum, with a growing number now stay at home dads while the mum goes out to work. Amongst friends I see most of the women going out to work (mostly part time), but the dad will muck in, having the kids for the day if needed, taking them out to places, and doing essentials that need to happen to make the family work.
The best type of dad to me, is one who shares the day to day, respects the work that their partner does, can be flexible when needed, and who takes time out to be with the family. They’re also supportive of school work, listen to kids read and help with homework.
In our family it doesn’t work quite like that.
The OH is a farmer, as are the other men in the family, and I’m the only mum who continues to go to work after having children. The others are much more traditional in set up – with the women doing some work but mostly in the home or at the farm, but the dad is the worker.
Before having N I imagined that the OH would take a bit more time off work, we’d do some family things together, and he’d help out a bit in doing pick-ups and drop offs at nursery and school. But the OH works all the time, 7 days a week, and works late in summer due to harvest.
This does have its benefits. It means I can do whatever I think is good for N (when he’ll agree to leave the farm and come out with me). We can visit lots of exciting places, do fun things, and eat out lots if we’re out and about. We can see friends at weekends, and we don’t have to agree with 2 adults what we’re doing.
But we miss out on a lot of things that to other families are normal. No shopping together at weekends (probably better we don’t do this to be honest!). Rare family holidays. No family days out. No reading to N.
Now N is older, he does get to go out on the farm with his dad. That’s where he loves to be, or out with his uncle checking the sheep. But there’s one aspect that we’ve not got quite right yet.
Drum roll please. This week saw the first time that the OH entered the school grounds…since N started and since he went to the school (on a different site), many years ago.
Yes, the OH has done school pick up for the first time. He didn’t send Granny. He went himself. And N was beside himself at the thought his dad was coming to pick him up.
Now, all through the summer holidays the OH was going to pick N up from holiday club (earlier than paid for) so he could go out on the farm with him. But school was a no. He didn’t even visit the school when we were applying or as prospective parent. He hasn’t been to a parents evening.
Until after school tennis club started up again. Last year I was relying on friends to pick N up and drop him off when they picked up their own child. But the other club that their son went to isn’t running. So the only option was for the OH to pick N up.
N went into school in the morning and was telling them all at morning club about his dad coming to do pick up. I just hoped he would and it wouldn’t be Granny going. 4pm came and I had a text asking ‘4pm?’ I thought he’d forgotten but it turned out that the timings school had said were different to what the actual timings were.
He still hasn’t met N’s teacher yet (the same one as last year), but you never know. Another Monday, another school pick up and he may do. He’s got a full year of doing Monday pick ups in which to do so.
Who does the school run in your house? Are you a more traditional family or do you parent equally in terms of the day to day activities?