Dads Need Love, Too  

By Jen Holman

The kids getting some quality dad time at a Travelers game

The kids getting some quality dad time at a Travelers game

 I consider myself lucky to have firsthand experience with two fantastic fathers. One raised me, and the other I sometimes lovingly refer to as Baby Daddy. They’re very different men, these fathers I love, but both are deeply committed to their children.

We hear so much about ‘a mother’s love,’ and while praise for mommas is certainly deserved, why aren’t fathers celebrated with the same fanfare? Mother’s Day is always a much bigger deal than Father’s Day, and not just to florists and card makers. Songs with references to mommas abound. My preteen daughter can’t stop singing a popular one by Drake right now, “I only love my bed and my momma. I’m sorry.” 

Is it because—and this is a ridiculous generalization—mothers are thought to be the nurturers and fathers the providers? From my perspective as a mom, dads are underpaid, overworked and woefully undercelebrated. In our house, my husband feeds and bathes our children daily. He bandages boo-boos and gives a million goodnight hugs. He’s also the one I force to investigate strange noises at night that turn out to be the cat trapped in the pantry, but that’s not the point. The point is fatherhood is a varied, demanding, endless job just like motherhood. Maybe we don’t say it enough. 

A father’s love is what allows me to work from home with an often-negligible income. Certainly my husband would like to pursue his dream as I am. If it weren’t for his commitment to our family, he might very well be on the first plane to Chicago vying for the position of Cubs statistician. But he’s here, making sure we have everything we need. There’s a book from the 90s that outlines five “love languages.” When I figured out my husband’s love language, I understood why he works so hard both in our house and outside it. It’s how he shows love.

Growing up in southwest Arkansas, my own father made me feel secure and important. He gave my sister and me time and attention and taught us the skills he thought we’d need to make it. I may know far too much about cows and farm implements for a city girl, but the life lessons embedded in that knowledge have been invaluable. Whether he knew it at the time, he was shaping my outlook on traditional gender roles by tasking me to haul firewood and teaching me to drive a tractor. It never occurred to me I couldn’t do anything I wanted to, which is a direct correlation, I feel sure, to the security nurtured by my father’s love. With children of my own now, who are growing up way too fast, I can only imagine the fear that gripped him when I left home and the disappointment he felt when I never returned.

A recent father-daughter dance reminded me how fortunate we are to have dads in our lives. To the moms out there performing both roles, you are amazing and brave. We’re thinking of you this month, too.

As for my children, I hope for them a relationship like my husband and his father, who speak by phone every day on the commute from work. I hope they understand a father’s love comes in many forms and is just as precious as a mother’s. 

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The Holman kids hanging with my dad, Papaw, on his farm.