I think people are surprised when they hear I work full time and Ben stays home with our daughter (and soon to be son). Ben is a hard working, multitasking, full time student who choose to finish his degree online when our first child was born to be home with her and have the freedom of more time together as a family. Though I know he is anxious for the day that those roles are reversed, it wont be quite yet, he embraces and loves how things are now, too.
I think it’s awesome in our culture there is so much, and well deserving, praise for motherhood and absolutely everything that comes with it for the rest of their lives. But I’m bummed when I think of the just as deserving, if not more deserving in some cases, role of fatherhood who don’t get any or enough credit.
And to do so, hopefully, like Elder Christofferson says, “To praise and encourage fatherhood and fathers is not to shame or discount anyone.”
As I’m in the home stretch of this pregnancy with only several weeks left, it has become harder to be comfortable and sleep through the night. Today actually, I’ve been awake since 4 am because of it—lying in bed hoping I’d fall back asleep before my alarm goes off to get ready for work, but I don’t. So here I am at work, feeling like actual living-dead, with bags under eyes that are hitting my chin, mascara on from yesterday, about to head into another meeting. And I can’t help but think of how awesome Ben is and always has been.
I come home from work and the dishes are done, not because I asked him to do them or because I’m pregnant, but because he simply saw that they were there. Dinner is cooking. I find where he is in the house by following the sound of laughter and the trail of Legos and toy animals from the animal kingdom they built that day. I’m shown pictures of Gracie feeding a horse that’s in our neighborhood and another bottle gone from blowing bubbles in the backyard.
He somehow balances time to study, take tests and do homework during her nap that she may or may not have taken that day. And even on Gracie’s not so cooperative days, during dinner he tells me new activities we could do together as a family that he somehow still found time to research on his own. He dances and sings Barney songs with her. Crawls on the ground and plays with her even after doing all the obstacles at her gymnastics class earlier that night, since my belly wont allow me to bend over and help her myself. Has no idea where his phone is for me to take pictures of them doing something cute because he hasn’t bothered to look at it in a while. Makes sure she says her prayers before eating and going to sleep. And when she is in bed, he sits me down to tell me what he learned from studying the scriptures that day.
People see me and everything I’m doing between working, traveling & speaking and my book, but they often don’t realize everything I do, Ben does it with me. All the hours spent driving and speaking and doing interviews, he is also there driving and sacrificing and enjoying with me. All while doing his thing, too.
No, Ben is not “Mr. Mom,” he is a father. And you like my daughter’s outfit? Well it’s because he picked it out, (actually probably the shirt I’m wearing too), because I have no fashion sense whatsoever, haha.
And Ben is not perfect, and neither is our family. Far from. But I love what we have and the teamwe make. I love the adventures we go on and the trials we conquer together.
But this post isn’t about our family, or about Ben. It’s not even about stay at home dads. It’s about the ideal men that Elder Christofferson describes as the one who “who puts his family first.” It’s about all those fathers who do what they can to make their family better. It’s about the hardworking, multi-tasking, selfless dads. The willing fathers. The funny and playful fathers. The ones that do acts of service on their own out of love and not because they were told to. Where each decision they make, they think of their family and the effects it will have on them.
Those dads whose most important relationship is first with God. The dads who honor and take pride in their duty with God and who seek Him to become their best self. Those who honor their priesthood and love the gospel. The dads who teach by example. Those who know the best thing they can ever do for their family is seek out and follow God’s counsel.
So here is a huge thank-you to those dads. We need you. We appreciate you. Your efforts are noticed and do make a difference. You make life a little easier and you make us and our family better and happier. We thank God all the time that you’re in our lives. You are “unique and irreplaceable.” Thank you for being patient and supportive and loving and fun and willing with everything every step of the way.
I know there are some not so great dads, just like there are some not so great moms, but let’s do a better job at showing our appreciation to the ones mentioned above. Not just to them, but to others. Let us change our social language when we “joke” about what dads are and are not capable of and their roles. Let’s give our youth hope and knowledge that these men do exist and to not settle for anything less than someone who will take joy and determination to work with them as a team for the most fulfilling life.
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“If you want to marry a wholesome, attractive, honest, happy, hardworking, spiritual person, be that kind of person.” —Elder Hales
“I knew somehow that I would never come first with him. I knew I was going to be second in his life and that the Lord was going to be first. And that was ok. I knew he was going to devout his life to the Lord and I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather have him devoted to.” —Sister Hinckley
“If you want to see your wife’s heart melt, let her find you studying the doctrine of Christ or reading your scriptures!” —Pres. Nelson
“I am convinced that a husband is never more attractive to his wife than when he is serving in his God-given role as a worthy priesthood holder.” —Sister Burton