“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told ‘every little girl needs her mum’.”

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We’ve all heard this a million times, read it on everything from baby food to nappies, laundry powder to prams. Don’t even get me started on the greeting cards that can still bring me to tears like a kid who’s just dropped her ice cream in the middle of Kmart.

Airline commercials, toilet paper ads and even telco commercials depicting a call home at Christmas and I’m a blubbering mess. All cynical ploys to influence my spending but since my daughter has come into this world I’ve suddenly got no control over my emotions even though I know I’m being played.

I’ve become emotionally incontinent.

Since my daughter has come into this world I see a baby and all of a sudden I’m making that high pitched AWWWW. With no control, completely subconsciously but definitely audibly as evidenced by the smiles of the mothers.

Image: Supplied.

Don’t get me started on kid’s fashion. I can tell you exactly which shop, season and size any little girl is wearing. To go out with my daughter in matching outfits right down to matching nails we both feel like princesses.

Until my daughter was born I had no idea that a love so intense could ever exist, an all-consuming overwhelming mix of fear of the unknown, a sense of such intense pride that it sometimes makes my heart feel like it’s going to explode. I still remember the exact moment my life changed forever for the better, it’s almost as though my life before was of no real consequence or significance just all in preparation. It was 2:16am at Box Hill hospital on the 16/11/2011.

Only a mother’s love.

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In just six short years I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this and it just made me realise when my daughter came into this world.

I can’t tell you how many times in the last four years since Charlie and I have been on our own after the break down of our family unit that I’ve been asked: “How do you manage?”

Image: Supplied.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told “every little girl needs her mum”.

The constant self-doubt if I’m doing things right if I’m raising a secure, happy, confident little girl who isn’t going to be on the news for torturing small animals.

After a lifetime of hearing about “only a mother’s love,” I’m filled with doubt if I’m good enough, doing enough because the majority of the time I’m second guessing myself.

The sudden and overwhelming sense of gratitude realising what my parents did for me and my siblings and are still doing for me and my daughter as a sole parent.

The worry of will my daughter be accepted and make friends even though we’re a single parent family?

Will the other mums notice how awkward I feel at ballet class?

Will I be able to make a suitable small talk at school pick up with the other mums?

Will my lack of any real knowledge of what I’m doing raising this tiny human to be that obvious that I’ll be chased out of town by a laughing mob of "real mothers"?

Only a mother’s love.

Night feeds, nappy changes and bath time I’ve loved every moment of my daughter.

Still, to this day, there are nights where I’ll sit on the edge of her bed and watch her sleep, bringing myself to tears with emotion and wondering how I could have been responsible for creating such a perfect little person.

Crawling, walking, teaching her to swim and ride a bike as a single parent slowly my confidence to not completely ruin this child grows.

Trips to the hospital sleeping in the chair watching over her, all survived. Trying my best to hide my tears as Charlie gets a needle (still, need to work on that), Charlie’s fine, me not so much.

Suddenly people comment on her good manners and how happy and confident she is, parent-teacher interviews and even report cards start to confirm I might actually not be stuffing up the most important thing I’ve ever taken on in my life?

Image: Supplied.

Every night Charlie crawls into my bed and I’m told by other mums I shouldn’t let her she’s old enough at six to sleep in her own bed but one night when Charlie’s ready she won’t and I’ll never know when that last time will be so I’m just going to enjoy it every stage of our growth.

Conversations through the toilet door, lunchbox notes and making costumes for Charlie’s teddies on my sewing machine. Only a mother’s love right?

Did I mention I’m a single dad?

Yep.

Doesn’t change anything I’ve written but hopefully, you’ll see how “mother’s love” should be replaced with “parent's love”?

Dads are no different to mums at least the many that I speak with. We seem to have the exact same fears and dreams for our children as mums do, who would’ve guessed?

Image: Supplied.

In a world where it’s so PC and even a policeman is now a police person and a policewoman is also police person how does this sexist last generation rubbish still exist?

Only a mother’s love, a woman’s place is in the kitchen, oh, surely you want kids, women drivers, runs like a girl.

All unacceptable and all counterproductive to women who are rightfully arguing for equal pay and equal opportunity in today’s society in my opinion. Women (nor men) shouldn’t be held back by outdated gender stereotypes.

Women shouldn’t be made to feel that their children are getting second best because the father is the primary caregiver. Men need to step up and be supported in their desire to be more connected, more respected for what we contribute to our children’s lives.

I’m not unusual, I’m not special, I’m a parent who just happens to be a dad and once you’re a parent it’s not about you anymore its ALL about your children.

I’m not babysitting, I’m parenting. It’s not even what I’m doing it’s who I am now, changed forever in the blink of an eye when my daughter popped into this world.

LISTEN: We speak to a dad about his experience in the birthing suite, on our pregnancy podcast. (Post continues below...)

I don’t sacrifice anything for Charlie because there’s nothing I’d rather be doing, my life is better every minute of every day because Charlie gives meaning and purpose to everything I do. This six year old little monkey is raising me rather than the other way around. She’s always watching everything so I have to be the example of who she should be and how she should be treated.

The good news is that slowly things are changing advertisers are starting to use fathers in supermarket ads, support groups for dads are popping up and the fact that Kiddipedia has given me a platform to voice a single dads perspective is all very encouraging, but as parents we ALL need to support and respect the amazing role we play as caregivers and role models irrespective of our gender or family make up.

This article originally appeared on Kiddipedia and has been republished with full permission. Kiddipedia is a World First Parenting Website and Australia's leading parenting resource, the only place parents can access Australia's top parenting websites, and their articles,  from one place. 

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