My wife has a part-time job, and my hours are very flexible. This means I spend a lot of time with my two daughters during daytime hours. We go to restaurants, grocery stores, nursing homes, and the office.
Both of my daughters are adorable and engaging. They smile and wave at people. They tell people things like, “Your shirt is pretty.” This means that I have many conversations with strangers that I otherwise would not have.
Usually this is quite fun. I like meeting new people, and I love how my girls brighten people’s day. There is one conversation though, that gets on my nerves. On a fairly regular basis, someone will ask me something like, “Are you babysitting today?”
Once I actually said, “No. I’m her Dad.” The woman looked at me a little puzzled, as if I didn’t understand her question.
What I wanted to say was:
“No. I’m not a babysitter. A babysitter is someone who occasionally watches a child, often for money. A babysitter has temporary hours, and goes home. I am her Daddy. I cut her umbilical cord and handed her to her mother. I never breast fed her, but I spent many long nights holding and feeding her. There were a few months when there was no one on earth that could put her to sleep faster than me. I changed diapers, wiped butts, and cleaned up puke. I was at the helm of The Great Poopy Disaster of 2011. The last time she had a stomach virus, the only place she wanted to sit was my lap. I had to change shirts twice. I once got a little bit of her poop in my mouth.
“I made up a song about how strong and smart she is, and sing it to her at night after carrying her to bed. Every morning before she gets out of bed to start school, I hold her. I hold her and I pray for her and I kiss her sleepy head. I know that in my arms she is safe, and I contemplate just staying there safe and warm forever. Every morning we eventually get up, I cook her breakfast, pack her lunch, and kiss her goodbye when her ride gets here. I send her into the world and pray to God that I sent her with enough love to get her through the day.
“I can make a pretty tight pony tail, paint a pretty neat fingernail, and I’ve taught her how to catch and throw a softball. She’s my doctor, my hairstylist, and my makeup artist. Sometimes she picks out my tie.
“We built a Lego Jabba’s Palace, and we’re working on the Rancor Pit. I’m currently leading the best-of-101 game Stanley Cup air hockey series 23-17. I took her to her first hockey game, her first Major League baseball game, her first ballet, and we have already set a date for December 18, 2015.
“The last snow day we had together, we turned on the TV a total of zero times. I help her with homework, and taught her M&M math. She told me when a boy hurt her feelings at school, and when her best friend was mean to her. She has wiped many tears on my shirt. My kisses work to heal boo-boos.
“I’ve messed up plenty. I’ve been the cause of more of those tears than I wish to admit. I get too angry over little things. I get frustrated because she just won’t listen. I wonder why she doesn’t seem to understand the phrase, “you need to hurry up.” Sometimes I’m too busy, or too tired, or too selfish. I’m not a perfect Dad, but by the grace of God I’m trying to be. She teaches me everyday about the power of grace and forgiveness. Being their Dad is the greatest, and most important thing I’ll ever do.
“So no, I’m not babysitting. I’m her Dad.”
But usually I just say, “Yeah, Mom is working. Aren’t I lucky?”
Follow The Fat Pastor on Facebook
16 responses to “I’m not babysitting, I’m her Dad.”
I have been saying this for decades; not as eloquently and from a Mommy’s view but it has always been true! Will share widely! Thank you for putting it to ‘paper’!
I think you should always say in response to the question, “No, I”m her Dad”. It sets an example for other fathers, and if you have time, don’t be hesitant to share what you do with her. She is blessed to have you as a father, and a good example of what our heavenly Father is.
when your Earthly Father loves you like this it is easy to believe in a loving God
My husband is an Anglican priest here in Canada. All our children are grown, but he would echo much of what you say. He always responded with “I am their Dad, I don’t babysit, I parent”. It seemed to work most of the time. What I don’t get after almost 25 years of him saying this, is why we still need to have this conversation? Don’t folks understand that there are 2 parents and shouldn’t they be thankful when both are involved. Keep being the good Dad that you are. In our experience it is worth it.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!
Here is why people ask that: As a rule, even today, if a woman (working mom or not) wants to run a few errands on a Saturday, she asks her husband “Can you watch the kids so I can . . .?” Men never ask this question. Until that presumption changes–on both sides, dads will be perceived by everyone as “babysitting.”
Unfortunately good dads have an uphill battle to fight. There are so many absent dads, dads that begrudge watching their own kids, dads that say they are babysitting, implying it isn’t their job and they have other things they would rather be doing. I could go on and on. The fact that you are defensive about it means you have your head and heart in the right place. But instead of judging and correcting those who have seen thousands of babysitter dads, maybe write and article to the dads to stop acting like it is babysitting. Great article, but I think it is aimed at the wrong crowd.
Mary Beth, I guess my wife and I have a different rule book.
BeckLee, Judgmental was certainly not the tone I was going for, but thanks for calling me out on it.
It really is up to the young parents of today to raise their sons to KNOW that child care and nurturing is just as much their job as the Mom! They can do it best by modeling that behavior! Kids do learn what they see–even more than what they hear!
This made my heart smile. Praise God for fathers like you. My two girls also have a Pastor Daddy with flexible hours–and their Mama works full-time. I am so thankful for my husband and his attitude of determination to break societal norms of “what Dads do” in order to love our girls so exquisitely. Blessings.
It very important for kids, specially for those who are under 10, to have someone who is close and caring for them. There are babysitters who can be a loving caregiver. But, nothing can be equal to love & care from the parents. So in that case, why not dad babysit the kids (if it is possible?)
The point is, if I am not mistaken, that since the children are in the care of the Father, he is NOT a babysitter. He is a parent, just as the Mother is a parent.
Mary Beth – my wife has never asked me to “watch the kids” and I would be offended if she did. It would never even occur to her to say this, because I am every bit the parent she is, and have been since day 1. There is nothing, and I do mean nothing, I would rather do than be a father to my kids. I do not behave in the way you describe men as behaving. You’ve painted all men with the same brush, and you’re dead wrong. Shame on you for contributing to negative stereotypes of men.
My daughters are 17 and 20, so they don’t really need constant supervision. But I will continue to be their father no matter what. Also I don’t remember ever being ‘asked’ to watch them. My partner and I just told each other what we were doing and if we both had commitments outside the home at the same time (or even together) there was often Grandma, and sometimes babysitters.
Pingback: A New Daddy-Daughter Adventure | The Fat Pastor