My job has allowed me the flexibility to stay at home while my wife works once a week as a nurse in the hospital. Typically these days are all about survival. With my wife being a nurse, she is gone for 13–14 hours the days she works. Surviving is the best word to describe this once a week-long day.
But this particular week and unique day was different.
A Cheer Dad
Fayth has been cheering on a special needs team for the past few months. The team consists of two 6-year-old girls with autism and Fayth, our 4-year-old with Down syndrome. Since these girls are still young, the moms help the girls in their routines.
Every week the girls and moms practice. Personally, I have only been to two other practices until this special day.
Stephanie, my wife, ended up having to work on the day of Fayth’s cheer practice. It was awkward from the beginning. I had to take Stephanie’s place in helping Fayth cheer. I didn’t know the motions. I didn’t know the routine. I barely knew the song. Outside of watching all of Fayth’s competition, I still didn’t know what to do.
I HAD TO BE MOMMY.
The music started and the other two moms went to work. Arms were swinging, legs kicking, and girls jumping, but not Fayth. Why? Because I didn’t know what I was doing.
It was so awkward. My man-esteem was shot. I could imagine my college buddies walking in and laughing saying, “Dude Buck, what are you doing?” Yes, I was “that” dad. The “awkward-for-everyone-watching” dad.
I just wanted to leave. But I stuck it out. I just kept thinking, “Poor Fayth. She gets embarrassing dad for practice.”
I left with our kids from practice that day with a new perspective, a revelation you might say. I AM NOT MOM!
Finding Dad’s Role With Special Needs
I understand my role is different from my wife’s, but sometimes I feel like the odd man out. Stephanie is the parent taking Fayth to school, therapy, doctor’s appointments, and cheer practice. I am able to attend some of these events, but not all. I do my best.
I occasionally feel lost in my identity of being a special needs parent. I look at all Stephanie does and I am inferior. I want to be there for everything, but I can’t be. I want to be the dad God has called me to be, but I just feel as though I can’t hold a candle to Stephanie.
So what’s my role? What is a dad’s role with special needs?
Through this identity crisis, God has shown me a better way. Simply put, I AM NOT MOM. God has gifted me in different ways than a mom, but there is a trap, a trick.
Stephanie and I are team. We do not parent against each other, but together. God has gifted Stephanie in different ways and me in different ways. God has blessed our two kids with two different parents working together for greatness.
However, the greatness is swept away when comparison creeps into the picture of parenting.
So what is my goal now? To be Dad. Be the best dad I can possibly be. Be the dad God has created and designed me to be. I strive to love, care, protect, provide, challenge, and lead.
I am not Mom, nor should I strive to be. Fayth will have her best dad when I operate in my role and not Mommy’s role.
For dads being their kids’ best dad.