Craig is an excellent father. I knew this from the minute I saw him coaching and working with kids at school, way before we ever started dating. He pushes the kids to be their best, holds them to high standards and makes them accountable for their actions (or lack of action) BUT he also shows compassion, sympathy and his sense of humor at all times when he is working with teenage girls. It takes a very special kind of man to be able to successfully interact with and coach twelve and thirteen year old young women. These characteristics are what drew me to him as a person and are what I found attractive in him from the very beginning.
As a husband, friend, son and father he is patient, kind, loyal and honest. To me these are qualities that are not out of the ordinary for a man to possess because that is the same type of person that my father was for me growing up and is still to this day. But apparently, being an involved father who readily takes on and enjoys every aspect (the good and the bad) of fatherhood and being a parent is somewhat rare these days.
It's no secret that I've been working my tail off the past four weeks with coaching both 7th and 8th grade girls volleyball. Although Natalie is with Ms. Rebecca during the day, I leave for school at 7:00 am and don't return until 6:00 in the evening and even later on game nights. This has forced Craig to really take the lead in taking care of Natalie and as a result, we've had some interesting conversations and some questionable (or maybe careless) remarks made.
- One night at my Wednesday night volleyball league, I was asked where Natalie was while I was playing volleyball for an hour. "Oh she's with Craig! She was almost asleep when I left, he is going to finish rocking her and then put her in the crib." No big deal to me - Craig loves nighttime bonding with her and it's very relaxing to cuddle and snuggle with her before bedtime. But the response was unsettling, "That's so great that he doesn't mind baby-sitting!" Um. Excuse me? Last time I checked he is not the fourteen year old girl down the street that we pay $10 an hour to take care of our child. It is not considered "baby-sitting" when it is his own child. It's called being part of a team and sharing responsibilities around the home.
- Last night at my volleyball game Craig brought Natalie to the game to watch and walked over to the bench in between the Division I and Division II games for me to hold and kiss on her before my game began. While I was chatting with Natalie I overheard the other school's basketball coach (whom I'm not very fond of to begin with) tell Craig "you're really having to jump into this Daddy thing, huh?!" Now....given the source of the statement, I'm not surprised that it came out of his mouth but the connotation that it is unusual for a man to be an actively involved father really bothered me.
Why WOULDN'T Craig want to jump into being Natalie's daddy? Besides the obvious point of "she's so dang cute and therefore tons of fun to be around so there's no excuse to NOT want to be involved," he is her FATHER. He was there when she was made and it's his duty as a man and as a part of her DNA to not just be around....but to BE there and love her and kiss her and snuggle her and to tell her everyday that he thinks she is completely amazing and wonderful.
The good news is that Craig and I had a discussion about "dead beat dads" the other day after I thanked him for being so supportive of me while coaching and that it made me really happy and proud to see what a great daddy he is for Natalie. His response was exactly what I wrote above - why WOULDN'T he be involved and take care of her, not only when I'm not around but if we're together as a family! Just because I gave birth to her does not mean that she is solely my responsibility and Craig understands that in order for me to be a great mom, I must have his help and we must work as a team. I think the younger generation in society right now is a little bit more progressive and there are lots of men out there that are commited to not just being PRESENT in their child's life, but INVOLVED by changing diapers, playing games, teaching lessons, going on trips and special events, etc. That's the kind of father that my dad was - even though I was a girl and played dolls with my mom, he made sure that I knew how to throw a football, change the oil in my car and he definitely cultivated my love for cars. Maybe my dad was the different one among the Baby Boomer generation but I don't know any different than having a father in my life that loves me unconditionally and enjoys my company. And therefore I expect the same experience for my own daughter from her father.
It makes me sad that in some people's minds, Craig is the exception to the rule because he is the dad that doesn't mind sporting a girly diaper bag, changing a poopy diaper and someday....tea parties and playing with Barbies. But knowing my husband, Natalie will also be able to shoot a lay-up and will perpetually have grass stains on her jeans. And if she does....then she is following in the footsteps of her momma and I will always be proud to call her my daughter.