As parents, what we’ve learned about parenting in a pandemic is that you’re constantly looking for activities to make the days interesting and put the cries of boredom at bay. But with the pandemic bringing so much of our children’s programming to a halt for sixteen months and running, we’re all hungry for options that let us explore life beyond our homes and our neighbourhoods.
And so, enter the Pickering Museum Village and its creative methods of delivering its programming in a world whose rules are so different.
But I’ll never forget what happened a few weeks into being a family of four when Sarah and I decided to do some grocery shopping with our newborn while our oldest was away at daycare.
Grocery shopping as new parents is always easier when you have two or more people do it together, because trying to manage a baby and shopping cart on your own ain’t easy!
(Putting a car seat on top of a shopping cart is a no-no, so how do you carry you baby and have room for your groceries, too? Do you get a second cart? Get a stroller with generous bottom basket like the Uppababy Vista and take smaller trips? You have to get very creative to make it work, but a parent’s gotta do what a parent’s gotta do.)
So, with two of us there to share the load, we decided to split up and have me walk our baby around the store for his nap while Sarah got everything we needed. And as I did a lap past the meat aisle, an older woman not much lighter in complexion than myself decided to strike up conversation about my baby and me.
“Awww—look at your baby! He’s so cute!”
“Oh, I miss those days—he looks so sweet while he sleeps!”
“Well, so far so good, anyway.”
“Where’s the mother? She let you take him out on your own?”
4.5 million dads live up here in Canada—and probably even more who aren’t parenting children full-time—and each of their stories is just as valid as the next to tell the full story of what fatherhood’s all about. And with my fatherhood story only being seven-and-a-half years in its making, there’s a whole heap of fatherhood I haven’t even experienced yet.
What’s it like to raise a teenager? What’s it like to have an empty nest? How do you give the sex talk? How do you handle it when they want to learn how to drive?
With all the communities I’ve joined in my time as a dad, there are so many other men whose experiences I rely on every day to show me what I should expect in the years to come. And so a week into Forty Days to Father’s Day, I want to share some gems with you from all the wisdom they’ve given to me.
I have a theory—if more fathers were able to stay with their babies till they were six months old, we’d have far fewer deadbeat dads in the world.
Just wait a minute—hear me out.
Not all dads are created equal. We come from different backgrounds with different circumstances and carry different toolkits to get the parenting job done.
But not all fathers make it to the Dad Life.
Life is very complicated—we react to its curveballs in all sorts of ways. Some babies come unexpectedly and their fathers are unwilling to step up to the responsibility. Some fathers are kept away from their babies because they can’t get along with the mom, and the letter of the law doesn’t often fall in their favour. You end up with prospective fathers who are too young, too broke, or too irresponsible to be there for their kid.
I was fortunate to enter fatherhood with it all very planned out, growing our family after two years of marriage seeming like the next logical step. But even though we’d read the books, watched the videos, and taken the birthing classes at the hospital up the street, nothing ever fully prepares you for what fatherhood’s going to be like.
See—what you don’t fully understand about parenthood before you have kids yourself is that while everything changes once you have a kid in tow, it doesn’t just stop. You just find new ways of doing the things that you would’ve before if they still prove important to you.