Sunday, July 8, 2012

Celebrate Fatherhood: Be The Best Dad You Can Be to Earn The Only Appreciation You'll Ever Need | Guestpost by Daddy Blogger of Dear Xander

Sakura Haruka is not a blog just about celebrating motherhood. It shares the joys {& frustrations!} of parenting and of families as a whole. Inspired by my hubby's thoughts on being a dad, Celebrate Fatherhood is thus a monthly series where daddies from all walks of life share insights about what fatherhood means to them, and how we can appreciate their role in a family too.

I sincerely thank all those who took the time to guest post for me. Most of those I approached were very supportive and enthusiastic about this new series, sharing my belief that being an involved dad, and getting the dads involved, is important in building a strong family. If you have a story to share, please email me at sakuraharuka {at} live {dot} com.

I wrote an article on Blogfathers! a while back lamenting the challenges men face as fathers from government policy, societal preconceptions, even their own workplace. When Ai came to me to write about how dads feel unappreciated, though, I thought I'd take the opportunity to present the issue from a more internalized perspective.

Because though government policy may work against us, society may disregard us, and our bosses may not understand us, the ones that truly don't appreciate dads are the dads themselves.

The non-appreciation begins the moment you announce that your family is getting pregnant - to family, to friends, to strangers in a quiet candle-lit restaurant if you choose to suddenly jump up from your dining experience with your wife after she tells you about it. Yes, you're happy; you're going to be a father, for crying out loud, why wouldn't you be? But take a few seconds to notice one very subtle yet highly indicative gesture in everyone when you make the announcement, because the moment the words "We're having a baby" come out of your mouth, all exclamations, heads, smiles, claps, hugs will instinctively be directed squarely at the mother.

That moment, and that collective behaviour, sets the tone for the rest of the pregnancy term. Everywhere you go, you bump into friends and family that will notice your wife's bump, and there is a saying, that people have no qualms patting the wife's belly and saying "Congratulations", but no one is going to pat daddy in between the legs and say "Good job."

That being said, we don't do ourselves any favours either. For the 10 months that your wife is carrying your child to term, try as you might, you are not even near being part of the experience aside from making it happen that hot and steamy night (good job, by the way). The morning sickness is all your wife's responsibility, unless you were there at the time she up chucked and you happen to be a sympathetic puker. The wardrobe change from Uniqlo to Dorothy Perkins to Maternity Exchange, that's not something you can really "be the man" for and help her out with, besides helping her queue at the checkout and using your credit card for the purchase. And when the baby kicks in mummy's belly, its movement and meaning reverberate throughout your wife's body and soul - you only get to feel it with your hand most times. Dads will know, we feel pretty useless most of the pregnancy term; what we don't realize is, that's also us not appreciating ourselves.

The most important thing that you can do to get yourselves out of this rut of self-loathing is to witness the delivery of your child - every single bloodcurdling minute from start to finish. The beauty of childbirth, really, is that it is not beautiful at all. It's shocking, jarring, many men have fainted in the process, and many others simply don't want any part of it. But it is compulsory because you get to see first-hand the reason why mothers deserve all the credit they get for bringing little human lives into the world, and how insignificant your resentment of the world not appreciating your fatherly status, all in the span of time it takes from going into labour to weighing and measuring your freshly-minted child.

So do I feel unappreciated as a father? It's not a question I can answer because I have never asked to be appreciated. Sure I could do with some perks at work, maybe some pats of encouragement in between the legs, but witnessing my own wife's ordeal with giving birth to Xander made me realize how much I owe to the woman I love, and seeing my son grow up is reminding me every day that my wife and I are no longer living for ourselves; Xander is our life now, our future and our everything. And being the best dad I can will earn me the only appreciation I will ever need - the love my son has for me.


Winston Tay currently runs 2 blogs, Dear Xander & Blogfathers! SG.  He lives for writing, if not for his wife and son, and come August he will be working full-time for an online parenting portal, so you can hopefully say he never has to work ever again :)

This post by Winston touched me a lot because I felt as if the boy was speaking to me through his words. I actually felt goose bumps!! Honestly, I think there is no such thing as a perfect mum, nor a perfect dad... all that we can expect is to be the best that we can ever be to our children. Lil Pumpkin may not be able to say in words completely how much she loves and appreciates her daddy dearest, but I know and I hope the boy knows too that he means the world to her, as to me.


NerdyMum said...

Very nice read and good sharing by Xander's Dad!

Much as I think it's important to appreciate Dads, no way he (or any other dads) will be getting pats between the legs from anyone...

Winston Tay said...

I would like to disclaim at this juncture that any patting of any male in between the legs may be hazardous to the pat-recipient's health and should be avoided no matter how appreciative the intention.

Ai Sakura said...

I'd say let's just leave any well-meaning patting between the legs to the wifeys :) A good hug to the daddies will well-suffice I reckon ;p