My little sister keeps saying to me, “You’re so lucky, V is such a great father.” And I keep saying to her, “Yes, but I’m such an enabling wife.” (As you can see, I’m more cocky with my family than I am on the blog). Today, she said it in front of V. And he said, “I’ve brought you a long way Karishma”. And it’s true. Both ways.
Let’s start with my way.
When I met V, he didn’t know that cups were meant to be placed upside down on a dish rack for the water to drain. I didn’t know he cooked, till after we got married, and we’d been dating for 1.5 years. He used to stress a lot about money and in so many ways, enough was never enough. He didn’t give himself time for himself and avoided parts of him that wanted to explore like further meditation and Bhutan. No man in his family had ever completed a diaper change.
When V met me, I didn’t know how to cook anything except for sandwiches and rotis. When he suggested we see a counsellor, I was extremely resistant. This was for people who had serious issues, we didn’t have serious issues did we? I thought it was a big deal, an amazing gift to V that I was a virgin when we met. He was more like, “Yeah, whatever, that doesn’t make a difference to me.” (So now you know how much “life experience” I’ve had. Or do you? Hahahaha). When the bank account was running low, I’d call Daddy. Yes. I had no understanding of my own finances.
Over time, we’ve both changed. A lot. V can stack a dishwasher and usually he has so much energy, he can do it after we’ve had 8 guests and 20 pots in the sink. I’m cautious with money, but I know what spending items are key for me and I’ll always ensure I enable myself to meet my needs. V did Aru’s first diaper change because I was shit scared and I pretty much used that technique as a rule of thumb. He was the first to take him in a solo car ride, extremely patient to put him to sleep and the same goes for feeding him.
Ladies, take note. If you say you can’t – he’ll likely say he can.
Because chances are, just like us, men too like to be needed. I don’t want for him to buy me jewellery or flowers. I’ll be waiting a long time. So I just get them for myself. And I don’t hide the receipt. He taught me not to complain about the things he did – how he first scrubbed the toilet, or that he didn’t wipe the table. These things would discourage him from helping out more, and so I avoided complaining.
I learnt to deal with my own issues of feminism and cook him a home made meal, because that to him, was love. Is love. He noticed how mentally drained and upset I was when I tried to be a stay at home mom, or even a very casual part time one. He strongly encouraged and enabled me to get back into work, while keeping a motherhood balance that satisfied me.
Often he’ll come to me with big money risk plans like purchasing the house, or shares, or sending money overseas. I’ll ask him questions and I trust him. I genuinely feels this gives him more faith in himself than he ever used to have. While I don’t let him choose his suits without me, I’m happy for anything non-aesthetic. We’ve both learnt that mediation and yoga and counselling are key to us having a sane life. You know, I think it’s the sum of things.
Great Dads are given responsibility. Trust. Faith. They’re also told, “Hey, I’m not in this alone”. I have no interest in dragging a heavy load and “doing it all”. I’d rather we do it together. For love and for sanity.
Sometimes I’ll say something to V, like “empathy, not sympathy”. And I can see he wants to know more. He wants to know how to be a better Dad. Maybe I’m blessed. Maybe it’s us. Maybe we’re on a roll and things might change. Maybe I’m gloating, maybe I’m proud. I don’t know. I don’t want to be. So I’m wary of that.
We all have highs and lows. I just know, that just like women can break the mould of sexism. Men can break the mould of family. There is a beautiful way to be.
And it’s not only his fault or her fault if one of them is taking the whole load.
It’s a collaborative thing.