Like most expecting dads, I read all the books on what to expect when you’re expecting. I even took a parenting class. I felt I was as ready as I ever could be for what was described as a life-changing event.
I wasn’t. And that’s okay. No one is.
When I hear a guy close to me is about to become a dad, I have the same thing to say to them with a knowing smile on my face, “you may think you know what love feels like but you don’t.” We all know the moment of birth is about mom and baby but as a spectator to this miraculous event, I want to take a minute or two to talk about what this Mother’s Day holiday means to me.
Fast forward to the present day, friends and family know me as an active co-parent to three healthy boys. Knowing that so much of my parenting responsibilities revolve around not just showing up, but with genuine modeling, I am keen to practice what I preach for better or worse. That means treating my boys like the future gentlemen they will become, that’s the plan anyway. That means setting these little guys up for success. I certainly cannot expect a four-year-old to go out and get a bunch of fresh flowers for his mom. But I can make sure he has the time and resources to craft a beautiful card and take a minute to talk with him about how to craft a great personal message for her card.
Why would I do this?
If we’re talking about how this modeled behavior works for both mom and dad, let’s be clear on what positive triggers this is flipping. You are showing healthy levels of compassion for mom. You are showing how grown-ups can get beyond their differences to celebrate. You are showing compassion, goodwill and affection toward ‘Mother’ that speaks volumes to the children.
How should this play out in a blended family with mom and step-mom in the mix? I recognize there are relationship ‘dynamics’ in play, so act accordingly and be mindful and generous in every direction. Treat Mother’s Day as a high holiday and be aware Step-mother’s Day is the Sunday after Mother’s Day, which gives everyone their moment in the spotlight ~for some, perhaps two moments. And that’s okay.
I may not see eye to eye with my ex. There is a history there and while we make our best effort to be our ‘Better Self’ for the sake of keeping our kids at the center not in the middle, I realize there are moments when I need to lift her up.
I need to teach the boys how to do it right.
As future men, I understand the strong connection for my boys to have the healthiest relationship with their mother impacts their future relationships with women. As future men, I want them to have healthy ideas of how to express their love and emotions. This means me taking the lead.
I buy the flowers and address them from the boys. I buy a card. I thank her for giving me the gift of three beautiful children and let the moment, simply be the moment.
As I always tell them, you haven’t done it right until you squeeze a few ‘happy’ tears out of mom. And even though they’re still young, these boys are already pretty good at it.