I’m a father of 2 young boys, who come this September, they will both be at school. As an only parent it means that the juggling between running the house, school drops offs & pickups, making packed lunches, attending meetings at school and somehow finding time for work and side projects etc, will get even crazier. But I’m not complaining because I actually love it. Is it hard? Of course it is. Do I have moments of panic and bewilderment wondering what the hell is going on? Absolutely. The thing is that I don’t have any choice. Or rather I have chosen to accept that this is what I have to do and I have embraced it. 4+ years into being a widower has meant that I have had to learn a lot and I have definitely made some mistakes in this new life that I have. It wasn’t part of the plan for me or my boys but we are making the most of our situation.
In the past few years I have learned how to be a parent to and raise 2 children all on my own. You see, my wife died after giving birth to our second son. Leaving me with a new born baby and a 3 year old. In that time I have come to know and meet many other dads, who like myself, have embraced being both a widower and only parent. We laugh, we cry and we share stories about our lives and the many challenges that we have. But we also talk about the happy moments too. Those moments that make us proud to be dads. Those moments that would make our partners proud too if they were alive. We see and hear others moaning about how useless their partners are and feel safe in the knowledge that we have tackled head on something that we could have never envisaged happening.
We didn’t have a choice in being only parents but we’re doing the best that we can to be role models to our children. To show our sons and our daughters that dads can be just as good as mums. That we can feed, clothe, nurture and raise our children to be happy, healthy and well adjusted children inspite of what has happened. For me in particular it has been important to show that I don’t have to subscribe to the stereotype of men that we hear and read about so much. ‘Man up’, ‘grow a pair’, ‘men can’t multitask’, ‘men can’t raise children on their own’ are just some of the negative comments that we have all had. These comments come from all sections of society. From those immediately around us, through to everyday sexism perpetuated in the media. I have learned that contrary to all these comments it is okay to cry. It is okay to show my boys that I am upset. It is okay to be vulnerable and it is not necessary, and in fact detrimental to our well being, if we bottle things up and portray the image of everything being okay when in reality we are hurting inside.
Men in society have come a long way from the stereotype that many of our fathers and grandfathers lived up to. Some of us are choosing to be stay at home dads while others are choosing to co-parent their children even if their relationship has broken down. God forbid that I even make the statement but there are single dads and only parents out there doing a much better job parenting their children than families with both parents. So it’s about time that we celebrated men who are doing their job as a parent without making a fuss. Men who are not afraid to show their emotions but are still secure in their masculinity. Men who don’t feel the pressure to live up to the various negative stereotypes that are doing us no good at all.
I want my boys to grow up knowing that raising children isn’t a man or a woman’s job but it’s the job of a parent. That being a man isn’t about how much you earn or what car you drive or whether you are good at sport. If I can achieve that then I would feel secure that my job is done and that my late wife would be proud of me and my boys.
Written by Alec Grant