Up Front and Personal

Father’s Day Tribute to a Stay-at-home Dad

Last year, my husband joined a time-honored fraternity that spans generations, continents, cultures and ages. He became a father.

Much like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is a day of recognition that is not given but rather earned.

And I can honestly say my husband has earned the title imprinted on the skull and crossbones T-shirt I gave him on his first Father’s Day: “Dad to the Bone.”

When our son was born, Daniel left his teaching job and put his master’s degree on hold to embrace a new full-time position as our son’s primary caregiver.

As such, he has received positive support from some family members and friends. He has also faced comments about being a househusband, awkward laughter, tiresome references to Mr. Mom and stinging barbs said just loud enough for him, or me, to overhear.

I have watched my best friend smile politely and then wince privately, enduring all with grace and patience far beyond my own. And with each passing day, I have witnessed my husband grow not just in his role as a father but also as a man, a husband and a Catholic.

The bond between father and son was formed not so much during my pregnancy or in the moment of Joseph’s birth via emergency C-section, as in the time Daniel spent in prayer at our newborn’s side in New York Methodist Hospital’s NICU over the next two days. After Joseph came home, their relationship deepened with every feeding and diaper change, through colicky nights and gassy smiles. Daniel knows Joseph better than anyone, and he has learned to anticipate and fulfill our son’s every need, willingly sacrificing his own in the process.

When Joseph’s cough quickly turned into bronchitis in early January, Daniel made sure his pregnant wife got her sleep while he sat up all night monitoring our nine-month old’s labored breathing and rising temperature. Daniel held Joseph through his first X-ray and administered his antibiotics, even in the middle of the night and even after catching the flu.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the estimated number of married, stay-at-home fathers with young children was 189,000 in 2012 – up from 64,000 in 1994.

If these dads are anything like my husband, then I understand this growing trend. Far from being feminine or maternal, my husband fosters an environment of love, warmth and tenderness in our home. In Joseph’s eyes, he is a nurturer and playmate, teacher and disciplinarian, the leader of family prayer as well as impromptu dance parties. In my eyes, he has more than earned the title of father, and one day hardly seems enough to celebrate all that he means to Joseph and me.-


 

Marie Elena Giossi is a member of The Tablet’s editorial staff. She is expecting her second child later this month, which should keep her husband even busier in the coming year.

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