I received what struck me as an unusual compliment recently. I did some grocery shopping, and while I was walking back to the car with Sam in his carrier a woman I didn’t know yelled “You’re such a great daddy!” across the parking lot. I really wasn’t sure what was going on at first, so I turned around to see who was yelling, and the woman then said, “Yes, you!” I immediately smiled, said thank you, and put Sam into the car.
Frankly, I hesitate to write this post. I’m afraid it looks like I’m bragging, or on the contrary, like I’m being overly humble (or maybe somewhere in between, ala “humblebragging”) by talking about this chance encounter with a stranger. But I wasn’t doing anything special. I was grocery shopping. I’ve never seen someone say that a woman was “such a great mommy” just because she went grocery shopping with her baby.
Does it say something sad about the state of fatherhood in America? Not that this woman could have known I was one, but is it simply an indication of support and appreciation for a stay-at-home dad? Is it indicative of the lower bar that men have to clear in order to be considered a good family man?
I don’t know. I’m not sure being a father is any harder than being a mother. I’m not sure being a stay-at-home parent is any easier or harder than being a working parent–although I will say that I can’t imagine being a single parent, and my hat is off to those who are.
What I do know is that this week, a week when we Americans take time to give thanks for the many blessings we have, is the perfect time to thank your parents for what they did for you. Or, if your parents were not great, to still at least try to reconnect with them and reconcile that relationship. Take time to thank and support the other parents you know, and especially your spouse. Everybody could stand to hear that they’re being a good parent, even if all they’re doing is buying some bread at the grocery store.