Roughly six or seven years ago, I was pregnant with our second baby, and working 12-hour night shifts on the weekends. To keep the house quiet during the day (while I slept between shifts) Jason would take our daughter out and about for a few hours. Somewhere between our erratic schedules and overnight blood sugar checks, we were doing the best we could to adjust to our toddler’s Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis.
I remember waking up one particular weekend, and dragging myself downstairs to spend some time with the family before getting ready to return to work that night. When I saw my daughter, I almost choked. Her hair was everywhere. It looked like a rat’s nest sitting on top of her head!
“Did you take her to the mall like that?”
“Yeah. Like what?”
“Like…THAT!!!! Did you brush her hair?”
“Yeah. I guess. So what?”
I was mortified. Here…let me show you…
Okay, so maybe the picture doesn’t do it justice. Just trust me when I tell you that the soft curls usually framing her sweet little face looked like electrocuted chicken wire.
He stared at me and handed me some ice water while I stared at her and wondered how many people must have thought I was a slacker-mom for not making sure my daughter’s hair was brushed before leaving the house.
His voice broke the silence.
“Well, her blood sugars have been fine, except she needed some juice right before lunch. I think I used the last lancet, and FYI, the diaper bag needs to be restocked. I’ll try to remember to do it this evening while you’re at work, but thought I’d better mention it so you can double check before you go anywhere tomorrow.”
In that moment, I realized that I was being downright silly by fretting over her hair.
This man had packed up our little girl and wandered around town for a few hours, so I could get a few hours of quiet sleep. This meant that, not only did he need to lug around a bunch of baby stuff (diaper bags are very macho, by the way), but he also needed to make sure he had all her diabetes supplies packed. Then he returned home, started making dinner, and all the while had been keeping tabs on blood sugars.
I was reminded of something that day:
He does things differently than I do.
He brushes their hair differently. He makes different clothing choices. He changes diapers differently. He has a different routine for site changes, and he checks blood sugars differently too. The truth of the matter is that “my way” isn’t the “only way”, and “his way” is equally effective.
That being said, I don’t think a lot of this parenting stuff felt natural to Jason at first. There was definitely a learning curve as he navigated his way through the uncharted waters of fatherhood. Fortunately, by the time diabetes entered our picture, he seemed to have “the basics” figured out.
Many fathers are like my husband -- uniquely special with their own style when it comes to taking care of their children. To all the fathers out there, please don’t ever underestimate the valuable role you play in your children’s lives. Please remember that it’s OKAY to do things differently, and your involvement is incredibly important. Your children, with and without diabetes, are counting on you.
Dads, near and far, keep up the great work!
(Frizzy hair and all.)