To The Papas

I write a lot about parenthood. I am a mama, so that is the voice I take, but I never mean to exclude papas. I know there are at least a few in this readership, brave men who stand up to all the estrogen flying.

I have always meant to write directly to you, for once. And with Father’s Day fast approaching I thought now would be a good time.

I saw a statue once, a small thing, impressionistic. At the center was the sphere of a baby’s head, around which arms circled and, gazing down, the head of the mama. Circling the mama was another swoop of arms and, watching over all, the head of the papa. That image has stayed with me since, almost hauntingly.

In this eternal symbol of family, the mother is sandwiched. I can tell you about that feeling, and often do. I struggle with the claustrophobia of it every day. But at the same time, we are protected. We are given the gift of being able to give all of ourselves to our babies. The father stands, heart open to all that he loves, back to the wild world. I don’t presume to know what that feels like, but I am quite certain it is every bit as challenging.

I don’t often say it, lost as I am in the small world of my own brain, but be assured– when I champion motherhood, I am necessarily championing fatherhood. The difference is the turning over of a coin.

As parents of either gender, at home or supporting the home, we are all of us involved in the growing of people. You papas who go out into the world, you are the interface. You allow us to focus on our babies and be the mamas we want to be. We don’t say it much, turned as we are to the small loud people in the room, but you make everything possible. You are both shelter and inspiration. You hold all that is dear within that span of arms.

Thank you.