We all know how completely and utterly useless fathers are. They simply cannot be trusted to take care of the kids. Period. They feed them junk food, let them break the rules, and probably don’t even know which end the diaper goes on.
And aviation dads? Don’t even get me started. They are never home, force us to live the ‘single parent’ life, and constantly miss out on holidays and birthdays. While they gallivant around the world drinking margaritas and exploring exotic locales, we are stuck explaining to junior why he isn’t home for the party.
How do I know? Because I am reminded on a regular basis. There are
hundreds thousands of movies and sitcoms depicting how worthless and inept dads are. I mean, if you leave your toddler alone with him for more than a few minutes, she is likely to end up with an ‘I love Dad’ tattoo and a few piercings.
In the bleachers at every sport’s and ballet practice across the nation, moms are rolling their eyes and complaining incessantly about their incompetent husbands. And heaven knows I can jump on to any number of social media groups at any given time of day or night and have my feelings about my pilot’s worthlessness as a father immediately validated. Plus, there are a plethora of memes hovering around Facebook confirming this unquestionable truth—Dad’s suck.
And we all know . . . if we read it on Facebook, it must be true, right?
Perhaps, ladies, it’s time to give dads a break! We need to stop stereotyping and start appreciating. I, for one, am tired of seeing our men depicted as bumbling, fumbling, stumbling idiots.
The truth? There are assuredly some men out there who are ‘deadbeats.’ But isn’t that just as true of some moms?
However, there are a lot of dads (and I do mean a lot!) out there that love their children fiercely—dads that work hard for their families and play hard with their children. I know more than a few dads that wash dishes, fold teeny-tiny laundry, and change diapers with the best of ’em—my own incredible pilot amongst.
I have been pondering why there is such a negative or sarcastic stereotype of fatherhood. I think perhaps we have confused the concepts of ‘good’ or ‘right’ with ‘different.’
It is true that men generally approach things differently than we women do, but that does not make it ‘bad’ or ‘wrong.’ There is more than one way to skin a cat . . . or in this case, change a poopy onsie.
And listen here, because this is uber important for our aviation families to grasp. For the sake of our marriages and our children’s wellbeing, we simply must embrace a fresh new perspective of traveling fathers.
He doesn’t have to be home every night to be an incredible father. He doesn’t have to make it to every single sporting event to be a great dad. The burdens of his traveling career do not negate his value as their father. These are not direct correlating indicators of his love for his children.
Aviation families are not single parent entities. It is extremely demeaning to our hardworking pilots (and not to mention to actual single moms) to even suggest it, and it gives the very real impression that their roles as fathers are obsolete in our children’s lives. But it couldn’t be further from the truth.
If he loves his children fiercely, is involved in their lives in whatever capacity he is able, works hard to provide for them, prays for them, tries to make the most of his time he has with them (whether in person or on Facetime), he is a great dad.
A couple of years ago, my best friend moved away. She is a fellow pilot wife. Her husband was flying, so my sweet guy had selflessly volunteered to keep not only our own children, but my friend’s too, so that she and I could go out and enjoy some girly time together before she left on her new journey. That evening (while we were out drinking wine and having a blast), he sent us a picture of the children all seated around the table, each making their own personal pizza.
It was a comical and beautiful sight. One of them had cheese piled up on the crust as tall as his head. One of them had enough pepperoni stacked on to cause a grown man’s arteries to clog instantaneously. And one of them was wearing a brand new, sixty-dollar ball gown (for a wedding we had to attend) and smiling like a clown as she waved her pizza sauce covered hands cheerfully at the camera.
“Isn’t that your daughter’s best dress?” my friend gasped, pointing to her daughter as I showed her the picture.
“Yep!” I said with a grin. “It sure is.”
Would her momma (any momma) let her wear an expensive ballgown to create a greasy, saucy, pizza masterpiece? Heck to the no way!
But here’s the thing—she was having the time of her life! You see, it’s just a dress. Dresses will get old, be outgrown, fade away, but memories are forever. They were making more than just pizzas, they were creating beautiful memories that would stick with them for a lifetime. They all were.
And isn’t that what matters most?
Could I have freaked out and belittled him for doing things his way? Sure. But was he doing it wrong? Nope—just beautifully, wonderfully, distinctly different.
We don’t realize it (or perhaps deny it), but we all have an important choice to make in all life’s circumstances—a choice to embrace joy or bitterness, love or judgement.
I could have easily twisted the moment to fit into a bitter box, posting the photo on social media with a snazzy, well-worded mom rant that tore him down and destroyed his credibility as a dad. Not to mention stomping on his kindness and generosity!
Yes, I could have used the moment to add [incorrectly] to the widespread stereotypes of fatherly incompetence. In fact, stuff like that always seems to get the most ego-stroking shares and likes on social media. Why is that, exactly…?
But instead I chose something better, something beautiful. I chose to see how absolutely amazing he was as a father in that precious moment—how he willingly owned his role and how his fun uniqueness as a dad was giving those children a forever memory that my we-don’t-wear-ballgowns-to-make-pizza self never could have/would have!
We need to stop focusing on what dads are doing ‘wrong’ and take a moment to let the fact that they are doing it soak in. We need to stop viewing different as bad.
Here’s what I know. There are a lot of women who would love to have a husband that makes pizzas with the kids while she sips wine out on the town with a girlfriend. I am beyond blessed.
And the kids? It’s incredibly good for them. It’s good for them to see life from another perspective—to know there is more than one way to accomplish a task. It’s good for them to know that their Daddy loves them. It’s good for them to spend time with him one-on-one without my eagle eye hovering over them every single second.
If we continue to nag about the way he feeds them, the way he bathes them, the way he plays with them, and the way he puts on a diaper . . .
I guarantee that eventually we will achieve the exact thing we are haggling for—a bunch of hands-off dads. Why in the world would they want to help us or give it a go if everything they do is ‘wrong’ and met with harsh criticism?
Look, he’s dad for a reason—because you are mom!
So the next time he puts a diaper on that child, even if it is backward, kiss him, tell him thank you, and move on. I promise he will figure it all out if you give him a fighting chance—just like you did.
And the next time he tells you he’ll watch the kids while you go out with the girls? Grab the keys, kiss them goodbye, and don’t look back. I promise they will survive.
In fact, they will thrive.
A loving daddy gives them courage to stand boldly upon the precipices of life. He gives them the confidence to FLY. The sky’s the limit—just ask Daddy.
To my own husband and all of the other dads out there, aviation or not, who love your wives and children so well—Thank you.
You are amazing. Happy Father’s Day, gentleman; you deserve it.
I love you, aviation family.
Angelia (wife of the greatest pilot, husband, and father on the entire planet)