happy father’s day

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Sitting at the dinner table, the three of us hear a familiar clink in the driveway, and I can see smiles creep across the girls’ faces, sparkles arriving in their eyes, and then we see him, the hero and his trusty steed, or rather, my husband, wheeling his bike into the shed. They begin a chant, squealing and giggling, “DADDY! DADDY! DADDY! DADDY!” You’d think the star player were entering the stadium. And to us: he is. Some days he rides in like the cavalry, saving me from a day gone horribly wrong and saving my children from a mama at her wits end. But even on a day gone right, things are still just infinitely better when he’s home.  Continue reading “happy father’s day”

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parenting olympians

My girls rocking their 2012 London Games onesies nearly two years ago.
My girls rocking their 2012 London Games onesies nearly two years ago.

I am unabashedly obsessed with the Olympics. Winter or Summer, it doesn’t matter. I love watching people achieve their dreams, compete for their countries, and doing their parents, always featured in NBC’s heart-wrenching human interest stories, proud. The summer after the girls were born, pinned to a couch under sleeping or eating babies, I watched a lot of the London Summer Games. This year, my only couch time is after those babies are in bed, but I’ve been watching quite a bit of the evening coverage as well. (If you’re also into watching the Olympics, follow me on twitter and join in on the live tweet action after 7 pm– just make sure to use a hashtag so your friends who are less obsessed can filter your Olympic tweets from their streams.)

One thing that stands out about the Olympics are the ads. Pretty much every spot you see that isn’t for a car or truck features an Olympian of some kind. Proctor and Gamble have been running a series of ads called “Because of Mom” in which athletes thank their mothers for helping them achieve their Olympic dreams. I have no real beef with people celebrating their mothers or motherhood. Motherhood is great! It’s just that…you bet your sweet bippy that if my girls ever make it to the Olympics (I’m thinking 2 man bobsled, maybe?), they’ll have their dad to thank as much as their mom. Because they are blessed to have an amazing dad, and I am blessed to have an amazing coparent. My husband and I are both blessed with amazing and involved dads, too.

I mean, it’s really no wonder I grew up to marry a man who turns out to be an amazing dad, because involved parenting is just what I expected based on what I grew up with. My dad, a doctor, but also a scientist, came into my science classes with a little red wagon full of props and gave talks worthy of Bill Nye. He worked odd shifts, so he drove a lot of carpools. He created elaborate treasure hunts for us with riddle clues. He got me into nerdy stuff like Star Trek and the Civilization computer games. He got me through high school math and science, both of which were hard for me, with intense, one-on-one homework help, complete with antics like “the ribosome dance,” which I will never forget, ever.

I’m willing to bet at least a few Olympians had dads like my dad and my husband. Unfortunately, P&G isn’t talking about them. I say unfortunately, because just as I mentioned in my “inspiration” post, kids need to see normal, everyday people as role models– how can people who may not have amazing dads in their life grow up to be or expect to co-parent with amazing dads if we don’t see dads being normal and amazing in our lives?

I do want to shout out a company getting it right. I loved this Frosted Flakes ad featuring one of our women ski jumpers (first year in the Olympics for their sport after decades of fighting for equality!), Sarah Hendrickson and her dad:  Sarah clearly has a dad like mine. They even have the same taste in names for their daughters!

Meanwhile, if you go looking for a P&G ad featuring a dad, you’ll find this, from Tide: 

DADMOM? REALLY? A dad who stays home with the kids and takes care of the house isn’t Mr. Mom. He’s not a dadmom. He’s just a dad. He’s parenting. He’s caretaking. He’s not stepping outside his gender or being anything less than a man– a man who has and cares for a family. It’s like when I hear people say a dad is babysitting his own children. Nope. That’s parenting, folks. People of all gender identities and expressions can do it.

P&G claims to be a “proud sponsor of moms.” Well, sponsors usually pay people, rather than expecting to be paid, P&G. And I’m not buying the gendered view of parenthood that you’re selling.

I also have similar issues with their vision of disability: 

While on the one hand, I love that they’re running ads featuring athletes with disabilities that showcase them as athletes, using the same visual style and soundtrack as the able-bodied athletes, they lost me at the final tagline. I’m not one of the world’s toughest moms just because my daughter has a disability. As I said on twitter when I first saw the ad, I think most people are as tough as their circumstances require them to be. We all rise to the occasion. If you “don’t know how I do it,” it’s just because it hasn’t been required of you (yet). Just as it doesn’t take a special person to love someone with special needs (because they are no more inherently easy or difficult to love than any other person), it doesn’t take a tough parent to parent a child with a disability. Because you just parent them, because they’re your child.

If someday Claire is a Paralympian, she’ll be thanking both of her parents. And she certainly won’t be calling us any tougher than anyone else.

the wrestler and the dollhouse: a smackdown

I was just clicking through a friend’s Facebook photos of his three daughters and it got me thinking about my own daddy, who also has three daughters, and couldn’t be happier.  It reminded me of a funny story about something my dad used to loooooove to do when we were kids.  Mind if I tell you a story about when I was a kid?

See, my sister and I (at the time there were only two of us, our third sister was adopted later), had an elaborate Victorian dollhouse that my parents had built for us one Christmas.  More than we played with any other toy, we spent hours playing with that dollhouse.  All the people and furniture were Playmobil.  So they were sorta like overgrown Legos.  Like this: We didn’t just have the traditional dollhouse figures, either.  There was an entire “school” set up in the “attic,” a hospital complete with surgery unit on the lower porch, a police station on the upper porch, an ambulance, and EVEN A HOT DOG STAND:My dad, of course, loved more than anything to make us giggle and squeal.  Usually this was related to telling us that the Belle, a riverboat in the town where we lived, had sunk, which was a guaranteed way to elicit squeals; or good old fashioned “tickle torture.”  But when it came to the dollhouse, he had a secret weapon.  Macho Man Randy Savage: Macho Man would regularly show up to “visit” the dollhouse and basically wreck the place, while my sister and I howled “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO MACHO MAN! NOOOOOOOOOO!” In our little minds, we could SEE this wreslter man, stomping his feet, kicking over furniture, punching the dollhouse people.  My dad would just laugh an evil laugh as we tried to pull Macho Man out of his hands and push Dad away from the dollhouse.  I have a feeling it was the only way this “boy” knew to play dollhouse with us.  And really, we secretly loved it.  We’d exact our revenge by finding Macho Man around the house and hiding him, so dad couldn’t find him and make him “come visit.”  Of course, this all ended the day we “hid” Macho Man in the trash and forgot about him until after trash day.  Whoops!