The Grandmother I Always Wanted: Father’s Day 2019 - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

The Grandmother I Always Wanted: Father’s Day 2019

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Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2019 2:42 pm

The author of” Hillbilly Elegy,” J. D. Vance, probably has no fond memories of Father’s Day, although he is undoubtedly creating some with his son. Many people are in similar situations, with father figures who are either zeros or despicable. In any generation fathers range from the ideal to derelict.

In the 40s and 50s, fathers were more often the sole bread winner, working their shift then tending the vegetable garden. Surviving seemed to take more hours than today. My two grandfathers worked outside the home while my grandmothers worked in the home, cooking, cleaning, and sewing most of the children’s clothes. Eight siblings and five siblings required more than an eight-hour workday from Hurley and Katie. Little time remained for fun things or even vacations with either parent. The dinner hour became the only quality family time.

As I notice the current crop of dads in my realm and beyond, I am encouraged that today’s dads play a much more significant role in their children’s lives than I remember in my childhood. They are real men who are not skittish about changing a dirty diaper or taking the baby for a stroller ride. They are not strangers in the kitchen, and they share the carpooling involved with active children. They know how to use a washing machine, and they take sick children to their doctor’s appointments.

More moms work today which accounts for transforming dad’s role; however, the 50s women I knew in my mother’s generation all worked as nurses, teachers, secretaries, Sears managers, telephone operators, dance instructors. Even though their job required the same number of hours as their spouse, the moms were still expected to make sure the home life ran smoothly. Cooking, cleaning, and clothes were women’s work.

In 1964, Dana arrived. My husband actively approached parenting from the first day she was born. He held her during his hospital visits, and at home, he wanted her to sleep on his chest whenever we were watching television. He even fed her the 5 p.m. bottle while I cooked dinner. Changing a diaper did not faze him. When Mother arrived to help me adjust to motherhood, she was stunned at how easily he fit into Dana’s schedule, and she commented on it frequently.

Paul’s involvement continued with additional children and their active lives even though his work hours were seldom regular, and his deployments extended for nine to elven months. When possible, he arranged his schedule to attend all events, even swim practice. My son once asked why I had never attended the swim meets. Incredulous, I stated that I was always in the stands ready with the dry towels, snacks, and change of clothes. He only remembered his dad at the end of the lanes with a stopwatch. He laughed; I did not. As CO of Fallon Naval Base, he volunteered to coach his son’s Pony League baseball team. That made an impression on residents who recalled previous COs sitting in their cars working while watching the games.

Paul taught all three children to ride bikes, drive, and ski. As grandchildren arrived and his dad role lessened, he embraced the grandfather position. He enjoyed starting over with bike lessons and some driving lessons. When the grandchildren spent the night with us, they anticipated their bike ride around Coronado with Papa.

Comments from friends my age indicate Paul was a little ahead of the expectations for dads in the 60s. The 2019 generation of dads and moms often share equal responsibility for a satisfying family life. My son, two sons-in-law, and their friends work long hours during the week and sometimes on the weekend, but they assume cooking duty often and have always spent quality time with their children, not only on vacation but, also, day to day. Attending all functions where the children participate is a priority for them, and they are always ready to help with homework, scout projects, birthday parties, even shopping.

Their active role as dad is a sign of the times since solo dads and granddads with young children at the park, at restaurants, and at the zoo are familiar sights. Whether they are single dads or part of the parenting team, the 21st century dads seem to devote time to the children which leads to interacting in meaningful conversation that inevitably includes advice, words of wisdom, family history, and jovial banter. People may moan the condition of our society, but I see a ray of light in how fathers are responding to their position as dad. Happy Fathers’ Day to all those blessed with children.

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