[title subtitle=”WORDS Stoney Stamper
IMAGES courtesy April Stamper”][/title]
There’s a strong push in the “Daddy” blogger community, and actually dads everywhere, to do away with the oafish, helpless dad persona that is often portrayed on television shows, movies and in public opinion. This is 2019, after all. Dads are completely capable of changing diapers, giving baths, fixing hair and making ponytails, packing lunches, and performing the countless duties that are required of a parent. I support this movement, of course. I can’t think of anything my daughters need that I can’t do. I can make dinner, I can give our youngest a bath, wash and condition her hair, get her dressed for school (without making her look like a retired rodeo clown), and help her with her homework. I cook, clean, and do dishes. I help our oldest girls, Abby and Emma, with most things they need, minus clothing and makeup options – mainly because they think I’m a total moron when it comes to their fashion. But all things considered, I can do most anything my wife April can do. And I think that’s a completely plausible thing to expect from a father. But, I’m not mom.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m capable. Dads need to pull their own weight around the house. This isn’t the 1950’s, where the dad goes to work in the morning, and the mom, standing in her apron, sends the kids off to school, cleans house, does laundry, irons clothes, bakes cookies for the kids, welcomes her husband home at the end of the day with a kiss, takes his coat, and then walks him to the dining room table to a four-course meal each night. Not that this is a bad thing. If that’s how you live, then that’s great. Whatever works for you. But for most families these days, moms have full-time jobs, in addition to all the things they do for their husbands and children. Sure, dads do a lot, but moms? They’re superheroes.
I think back to all the moms in my life. My Granny Stamper was the exact mom that I described above. Her home was immaculate, her meals were second to none, and she doted over her husband. But she was more than that. She was the voice of reason for our family. She managed the accounting and administrative efforts of my grandfather’s businesses. She kept the family together and maintained a close relationship between her sons and their families. Every Wednesday and Sunday night, we’d all make our way to their house where we’d play pool and watch football and talk about horses and hunting. Story after story was told, and laughter was nearly nonstop. We were a tight knit group. But then, we lost her.
She developed ALS in 1990 and passed away at the young age of sixty-four in 1992. After that, something curious, and sad, happened. When she was no longer there to bring the family together, we began to slowly drift apart. No one ever wanted to disappoint her, but when she was gone, people did things they likely wouldn’t have done under her watchful, yet kind eyes. Marriages deteriorated. Relationships were broken, and something that never happened, fighting, began. She was the glue. She held us all together, kept us all accountable. Always maintaining peace, she kept our family running like a well-oiled machine. It’s sad, and it’s hard for me to admit, but the day she died, part of my family died with her. It was fractured, and one side went one way, one side went the other. And so many years later, that fracture still remains with some family members. Thankfully, what my granny taught us all of our lives stuck with many of us, and those family members are still close and loving, and I cherish it very much. That’s thanks to my granny.
My mom has now assumed that role in our family. She was the next generation of moms that had a full-time job, and still managed to take care of our home, our meals, and get us to horse shows, hog shows, wrestling tournaments and baseball games. My dad was more involved in our extracurricular activities than his dad was. Dad never missed a game or a show or a match. And around the house, he kept the yard mowed immaculately at all times, and oddly enough, he always did our laundry. But most of the home’s duties were still performed by my mom. That’s not speaking ill of my dad. He’s a ridiculously hard-working man and provided us with everything we needed. But that was still how things worked, even in the 1980’s. My mom is now the person who makes sure that me and my siblings stay close and spend time with one another. We get together often, always at her request and planning. She’s a great mom, and an absolutely amazing Nan to her grandkids. She’s filled in for my grandmother wonderfully, and my family is extremely close because of it.
And then there’s the closest mom in my life. My beautiful wife April. She’s the definition of the “New Age” mom. She’s a serial entrepreneur, having owned multiple businesses since she was a young woman. Before we met, not only did she take care of her own home, bills, and run her businesses, she single handedly raised two absolutely amazing tiny versions of herself, Abby and Emma. Years later, I came along and began my job as husband and father. Our family gradually formed into a cohesive unit and the girls became accepting of me in their lives. We all found ourselves in the happiest time of our lives. Until November 8, 2017. That was a bad day. I had a serious automobile accident and was badly injured. I don’t remember a lot of what happened in the weeks and months after the wreck, but I remember one thing I’ll never, ever forget. April became supernatural. With me stuck bedridden for months, she began to do things that would normally take four people to do. She cared for me, night and day. Doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, bathing me, keeping up with my medicine.
At that time, Abby was a senior in high school, extremely active in FFA, public relation competitions, speeches and showing pigs, and all the activities that come with being a senior. Emma was in junior high, showed pigs, played softball and was a socially active little girl. Gracee was four years old and needed all the things that a four-year-old needs, which can be pretty countless. Although I know on the inside, April was struggling. She was stressed about money (I obviously wasn’t working),stressed about spending enough time with the kids, stressed about my health and my recovery. Of course, our families helped when they could, but the brunt of the load landed on April’s shoulders, and she carried it all. She’d tell you that she thought she was failing, but I’ve never watched someone manage such a heavy load the way she did.
So, do I believe in equality for fathers in the home? Absolutely. But do I believe that moms are superheroes? Without a doubt. They promptly plug all the leaks in the boat, and usually do it with no thoroughfare, no acclaim. They do it simply because it needs to be done. We are raising three little girls that will likely someday be moms, and I’m so proud that they have such an amazing role model. I know someday they’ll realize there’sno value they could place on all their mom does for our family – it’s priceless, and there is no denying, moms are the glue!
Stoney Stamper is the best-selling author of My First Rodeo: How Three Daughters, One Wife, and a Herd of Others Are Making Me a Better Dad (WaterBrook) and author of the popular parenting blog, The Daddy Diaries. He and his wife, April, have three daughters and live in Oklahoma, where they are heavily involved in agriculture and raise and show a variety of animals.