When I eventually got round to looking through all my social media earlier today I was slightly perturbed by all the Mothers Day stuff I saw my friends posting. Being slightly dull it took me a while to realise that much of the World fail to celebrate this event on the right day (6th March this year) preferring to wait a couple of months, presumably for better weather.
Still seeing all this put me in mind of my own family and our relationships. Becoming a parent changed everything for me, I have already observed that it was becoming a parent that made me a feminist, it changed my attitude to work (I changed job simply so that I could be at home every evening), amongst all the other things I think it also changed the way I thought about my own parents, appreciating what they went through with us. My relationship with my Mother is now so clouded by her illness that I sometimes have to make an effort to remember her as the woman she was, but I was also conscious that I did not want to repeat the mistakes that my parents made.
Like most parents I failed! I failed to avid the mistakes of previous generations, I failed to be perfect, but then so do we all, I think the trick is in how we come to terms with our imperfection. In the end I realised that my daughter is an intelligent, talented and beautiful person in her own right and I need to treat her as such, with honesty and consideration and love. I cherish the time we spend together, I love to get her text messages, and feel privileged to be her facebook friend.
While I am sure that I allow her to win any "Who's got the weirdest Dad" competitions with her friends I feel so pleased that she still wants to spend time with me and calls me Dad.
Even though (or maybe because) I have engaged in this weird process of transition I am more than aware that the roles of Mum and Dad are not interchangeable. I am not talking about the actual process of pregnancy and giving birth, although that must be special, as I know of many wonderful Mothers who have been denied that privilege. For most of us Mother is the person who nurtures and cares for us, who is around when needed, who gives us food and provides clean clothing, the person we go to for hugs and comfort. Dads are different, Dads provide, Dads protect, Dads tell bad jokes and are allowed to be silly, often they also have to be the bad guy who says no, Both Mums and Dads provide role models.
This is very simplistic approach, and not based entirely on my own experience, my Dad taught me how to be a man, I think he did a pretty good job since I fooled a lot of people, including me, for a long time. I can't say my Mother taught me how to be a woman, after all I am still learning.
Whatever, I am proud when my Daughter calls me Dad.