Last week I went back to the future. I had one of those spontaneous moments when we bump into someone we haven’t seen for a while. For me, it was an old work colleague. I hadn’t seen this fellow for a very long time. We managed to avoid most of the pointless small talk, it was one of those good and meaningful catch ups. With the added highlight that he had recently become a stay at home Dad. Despite my single parent widower status being the only variance in circumstance, we exchanged our parental knowledge.

Regardless of us no longer working collaboratively, we gradually discovered just how much we still had in common. We found alignment in our views and all the parental pearls of wisdom we had gained. Later that day, I started to have mixed emotions around the whole conversation. As nice as it was, it was hard to swallow the fact that we were still different in a big way, he had a wife and his child had a mother.

I knew I had to remember the positive outcome of the conversation. We were just two young men, each doing a job as a parent without making a fuss, but should we be making a fuss? I started to think about how Dads could have a positive side effect on how we see men in general. In truth, the stereotypical view of Dad’s in our society has come a very long way from when I was a child. Yet I accept our society’s view hasn’t fully changed. I know I could easily start a debate if I asked a majority of parents if they thought a Dad’s job was to earn money, and a Mum’s job is to look after the home and family.

By stepping up to the mark, have I defined a more positive view on what we think is typical of the average man. On reflection, Yes, I have. Should I be writing about it? Absolutely!

I can walk around with a happy face on most of the time, but in reality, I do live in a crazy world. I have learnt to become the master juggler of nursery drop-offs, pickups, running a clean and happy home, giving out buckets of unconditional love, making meals and working full time. Somewhere in the midst of all that chaos, I do actually find some ‘me’ time too. Is it tough? Of course.

I can honestly say that I don’t like it at all, I absolutely love it!

The past highlights of the nightime feeding, teething, learning to eat, immunisations, first steps, first words, birthday parties, playgroup activities, potty training, family holidays… to name a few, where massive challenges. However, it is these moments that make me feel happy too. Happy to have achieved a milestone for my child. Having been through all these moments alone I always sign each one off with “Marky boy, take a bow son”, I always feel proud. I never doubt that in my mind that, if Katherine was alive, she would be proud too.

I don’t like writing this, but I feel I should point it out. Sadly, there will always be families out there with both parents at a disadvantage. Some children might miss something from a family with both parents. Maybe it is out of the parents’ control and they have to work around the clock, or they work nights? Could it be one of the parents isn’t actually interested? Maybe love isn’t expressed openly in a family? My point being, in some cases many single-parent families are doing a much better job raising children than families with both parents.

I want my little girl, Margot, to grow up knowing that raising children isn’t a man or a woman’s job but it’s the job of a parent. Social class or status means nothing in terms of life and happiness. I want her to understand that men and women can be whatever they want. I’ve absorbed both the Mum and Dad roles into a hybrid version of myself. What I have turned into has extended beyond all those traits considered to be the stereotype of masculinity.

Does this fit your situation, or can you relate to what I am describing? Then you should know it’s going to be ok for your child or children. You’re going to be ok. I used to ponder how I was going to get through it all. I’m here and it’s all working out, in it’s own strange and adapted way. We should all feel proud to be a Dad. Even within the hardest years.

For me, there is no better description of how it feels to be a parent than in the words of the author, Elizabeth Stone. Having a child is like consenting to have your heart walk around outside of your body! And this is why we put our heart and soul into our role. Especially with being a widowed single parent Dad challenging traditional stereotypes of masculinity and fundamentally redefining what it means to be a man.