Once upon a time the roles of parents were clearly defined and pretty much immovable. If you were working class, your mother (in an overgeneralized nutshell) would look after the home, bring up the kids, put food on the table and wring out the washing through the mangle. If you were lucky enough to be born into the higher echelons of society your mummy darling may have had a little bit of extra help around the mansion but her place was firmly at the centre - the 'lady' of the household.
One of the things I love about these classic old stereotypes is the opportunity we now have to break them down, mash them up and crush them into little pieces. Looking back at the history and plight of women it feels wonderfully liberating to be a female now. To have personal choices and the freedom to think and earn and choose who you want to be with. To be the mother you desire to be without feeling pigeon-holed. Yes we ladies are sometimes judged at every turn and yes we'll never be fully allowed to act as we please without some scorn but if you are bold enough to be just you it is worth stomaching a few sideways glances.
The modern world is a difficult and dangerous place. It can be threatening and depressing at times, unpredictable and exhausting. But one of the things that has come out of all this prolific change, this breaking of the norms, is the fantastic rise of the superdad. Gone are the days when the father's role was to tell off the kids, impart awkward advice, deliver the slipper (remember Dennis the Menace's angry dad?) and bring home the bacon. Thankfully for men, that pressure is lifting itself away. More and more men are choosing to be stay at home dads or to share the childcare or to support their wives to be successful professionals. They are ignoring the critics and doing what feels right for them and their brood. And it's downright brilliant.
I know so many superdads who are taking the old father image and literally stamping on its head. They play games with their kids, they take them out on a Saturday to the park or for a swim, they cook the dinner and wash the sheets, hoover the house and take out the bins, bath the children and read them stories. They are full on, hands on and completely in love with parenting. The 21st Century superheroes of the modern age.
It takes an awful lot of strength, courage and humility to be a dad like this. As many men will have experienced, once a child comes along the love that was once felt for you is stolen away temporarily and never quite restores itself fully. Whereas once you were the apple of your wife/ girlfriend's eye, the centre of her world and the one she unashamedly worshipped and begged for a ring, overnight you are side-lined, pushed out and relegated from the dizzy heights of the Premier League to the murky mist of the First Division. 'The baby' takes first place as s/he rightly should and even though you know this is correct, it doesn't stop you feeling slightly miffed. Suddenly the thoughtful presents and the special dinners cease and in its place you are left with a kind of shared hysteria in the atmosphere and a life that for a time ticks along in a hazy fog. It's tough and easy to react to this badly but the superdad takes it in his stride, pushes those feelings of rejection away and gets stuck in.
There are numerous versions of the superdad. The one who takes on a horribly responsible job so he can pay the bills and support his wife (to choose) to look after the kiddies. Nobody wants to fly around the world in their mid-forties and stay over in crap hotels eating microwaved hotel food - but he does it for the love of his family. There is also the dad who sacrifices his own career so his partner can go back to work. What human being in their right mind would voluntarily spend afternoons in a soft play? The superdad would.
I couldn't survive without my own version of the superdad. I didn't know when I met him that he would be this great but if I had known I'd definitely have paid top dollar for him. Without completely emasculating him, he epitomises perfect house husband tendencies. He is happy to help out with everything, enjoys keeping our home tidy, loves creating and making recipes and is a brilliant mix of the firm and the fun guy with our son.
If we stop and look around us there are amazing superdads everywhere. They might not be wearing a red cape and pants over their skinny jeans but they are doing their bit to break the old stereotype and make their partners and their children happy. It's time we applauded them, clapped our hands fervently and patted them on the back.
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