As Katie and I have both mentioned in the past, one of our primary reasons for traveling is spending more time with our children.
While we both worked full-time jobs, we recognized that our kids were growing up quickly and that we were spending a lot more time at work than with them. We determined that leaving sooner rather than later for our year of adventure would be ideal so that we could spend more time with our kids during some majorly transformative and foundational years of their life.
As a father, I’m particularly grateful for the last eight months of full-time fathering. While I know fathers everywhere are taking more active, beneficial roles in their children’s lives and development while also working full-time careers, this year has given me the time and attention to recognize just how important a father’s role can be in the development of children and the family. Through eight months of full-time parenting on our adventure, I’m aware of the impact that I’ve had as a father on my children and the impact that they have had on me as a father and person.
In one example, I’ve observed that Wilson demonstrates in play what might be characterized as ‘motherly’ tendencies, bundling teddy bears in blankets and changing diapers. However, he plays these roles in the context of a father, not a mother. He’s absorbed that fatherhood is more than the expected roles of provider and disciplinarian and that it’s a role that includes caring for and raising children.
In another example, I’ve noticed that Jane and Wilson are as likely to call out for their father as their mother when they fall down hurt or wake from a bad dream. When Wilson thought a chicken bit his finger in the middle of the night, he called for me and came running into my arms in the dark. Crying for mom isn’t the default.
On the flip side, I’ve learned that I can have a meaningful relationship with my children, a relationship that can be whatever I want to make it. This may seem obvious, but it was not to me. I struggled mightily with my role as a father when Jane was first born, unsure of where I fit into eating, sleeping, bathing and changing diaper routines. After years of parenting and the last eight months of full-time parenting, I’m much more comfortable in my role as a father, and I’ve learned that my active participation is more than an obligation, it’s a privilege.