I talk an awful lot on here about Seth, my ex-husband, friend, and father of my son. Sorry if that’s getting old -- but seriously, every day I marvel at how awesome we are making our “broken” family work for us (though I could definitely argue it’s not really broken at all).
But I feel like I cannot say this enough: Seth is a rockstar of a dad. In fact, I often joke that he is a better mom than I am.
Fact one: He is a way better nurse than I am when Oliver gets a stomach bug or whatever the hell thing he gets at least once year. Where I hover nervously over the poor kid, wondering when he’s going to hurl again, and transferring all my emetophobic barf-anxiety to my son (thereby probably making him sicker), Seth just rolls with it. Oliver always recovers more quickly when Seth is taking care of him.
Fact two: Seth takes Oliver skateboarding a couple of times a week. Even on the weeks when Oliver is at my house, Seth will pick him up from school and take him to the skate park. Seth skateboards, too, and he pushes Oliver to try new stuff. Where I might be inclined to tell Oliver not to do anything outside of his comfort zone, for fear that he might hurt himself, Seth encourages him to step outside of it and not be afraid to fall.
Fact three: Seth makes playdates with the other moms -- something I am really, really bad at doing because I’m sort of socially awkward and assume that no one wants to hang out with me. Every fellow parent I’ve met at Oliver’s school has been because of Seth.
Fact four: Seth makes most of the phone calls and does most of the Oliver-related research, whether it’s calling the doctor, or looking into a new after school program.
Fact five: Seth does awesome projects with Oliver, like making volcanoes and robot suits.
(And that’s just Seth. Oliver’s practically-step-dad, Jeff, is also super hands-on. Jeff takes him outside all the time. They play LEGO Batman together. They have a weekly date to watch the latest installment of "The Clone Wars.")
I am, frankly, not the parent who plays, and this is probably a good thing. Seth can take Oliver to the park and let him jump off of stuff; I would take him to the park wrapped in bubble wrap if I could. Instead, I’m the parent who cooks, packs lunches, changes sheets, cleans up scrapes/applies bandages, and tells Oliver to get out of the shower and stop wasting water.
I’m not so much the fun parent (though I do love board games). I’m the business parent, if you will. I think I am fine with this.
Our situation is not unique. According to a study by the Journal of Consumer Research reported by the Wall Street Journal, dads are taking a hands-on approach to parenting more than ever before. Where park visits and playdates were once almost exclusively a mom thing, dads are now getting more involved in activities with their kids -- sometimes to the point of taking over all the “fun” parent duties. Not only that, but stay-at-home dads are becoming less rare now, too.
You guys, I love everything about this involved dad thing (especially since my own dad was an abusive pathological liar who abandoned me and tried to steal my identity). I will continue to let Seth and Jeff be the playmates who nuture Oliver’s sense of independence, while I continue to pack his lunch every morning. I’m lucky to have someone with whom to divide up the parenting.
Are you the fun parent or the business parent? When you were growing up, was your dad super involved in playing with you, or did your mom take care of that? And should Seth go into business making robot suit kits for children? I think he should.
Somer is on Twitter: @somersherwood