To the Hardworking Dad | I See You

Hey Hardworking Dad, I see you.

Moms and their mental load are getting a lot of attention these days, but you’re working hard, too. You know moms get shamed and judged a lot and that they need support.

But you want to be seen, too.  You know you’re doing more than men in prior generations, but still it isn’t enough.  You waffle between feeling like super dad and feeling barely competent.

I see you, Hardworking Dad, and I appreciate you.

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When You’re with the Children

I see you getting the preschooler to wipe his sticky hands and face, screaming like it’s sheer torture.

When you wrestle the toddler into the diaper, I see you.  When you wrestle the toddler because he loves the play and interaction, I see you.

You are calm when your wife impatiently snaps during the middle of the night  to help clean up the vomit. (sorry Kyle!)

I see you patiently doing bath time and bedtime and story time and snack time and play time.

I see you when you read the story aloud with voices for the characters.

I see you referee sibling fights, play trains, or give endless pick back rides.

Hardworking Dad, I know you struggle to feel like you are good enough, but you are the best dad for your kids.

When You’re at Home

You stay up late washing the dishes or folding the laundry.  You believe that household work isn’t “helping out” your wife or partner, but really you’re just adulting.

You wake up before the children or stay late after work to squeeze in some exercise.  You fight pangs of guilt about the time you’re spending working out, but you want to be healthy for your children.

I see you when you pick up the toys with the children for the tenth time, trying to teach responsibility.

I see you when make dinner, and no one says thank you.

When the bills need to be paid and the budget needs to be balanced, I see those lines of concern on your face.  You worry about providing for your family, and about how they will be taken care of when you are gone.

I see you sweating on those summer Saturdays as you set up the slip ‘n slide or the inflatable pool.  In the fall, I see you raking, and around the holidays you’re on the ladder stringing lights to the gutters.

I see you in the spring with the endless yard work.  It is thankless work, but I want to thank you.

Hardworking Dad, I see you wanting to do more, but not feeling like it’s ever enough.

When It’s Time to Work

You rush to work every morning.  You’re torn between the responsibilities at home and your job.

Sometimes you rearrange meetings for your child’s school events, and sometimes you agonize over your absence.

You worry about staying late to finish a project or have a meeting.  You debate the pros and cons about taking on the over time.  I see the internal conflict about the extra time you’re spending at work and how you have to provide.

You feel this constant pull of wanting to care for the children physically but knowing you need also need to care for them materially.

You want to advance your career – for you but also for your family.  But you worry about whether the costs are worth the sacrifice.

Hardworking Dad, I see you wanting to do more at work, but feeling pulled back home.

When It’s the Weekend

You do the birthday party circuit on the weekends.  There are other things you’d rather do that hang out at a children’s play place surrounded by hordes of screaming kids.  You endure the bad food and chit chat to give your children a community.

You have little time to devote to your own friendships so I see you chatting with other parents in the halls at school events.

I see you when you miss the football game for swim lessons.

I see you when you get up with the kids and let your wife sleep in.

I see you when you long for the freedom of your single days: sleeping in, sole possession of the remote, and some time alone.

Hardworking Dad, I see your sacrifices on the weekends.

I See You, Hardworking Dad

Past generations tell you “you need to have a hobby.” And you say, “right now the kids are my hobby.”

They say “we didn’t raise kids that way,” and you say, “yes, just like with technology, things change.”

I see you trying to unlearn the toxic masculinity of your childhood and trying to build emotional intelligence in your children.

I see you with the constant pull between work and home, self-care and selflessness, your personhood and parenthood.

Hardworking Dad, you are noticed, you are appreciated, and you are loved.

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