As a blogger, and writing about fatherhood and parenting you almost always have to keep your eyes peeled for a potential story to tell. We are like a journalist in that way. Except that we like to report on the good positive stories about fatherhood. So when I boarded a recent Southwest flight, I was reminded of the joys of being a dad and the reason I was going to the Dad 2.0 Summit.
I hopped into the window seat of row 17. I decided I would change up my routine of sitting towards the front of the plane and move to the opposite side for a change in scenery. Behind me, a family of four sits down with a 4-year-old and a 7-month-old. The baby cooed and served as a reminder of what I was leaving at home for the four days while I talked with fellow dads about where we are and where we are about to go as fathers.
I couldn’t help but smile wishing my family was with me.
I heard someone say that we are going to take 20-minute intervals during the flight holding the baby and entertaining him. I was the second in line after someone I believe was a grandmother and I wasn’t going to jump in front of her. I couldn’t miss the opportunity to be the dad that I am at home.
While that never actually came to fruition, there was someone that did come in to help. James, the Southwest flight attendant, came down the aisle introducing himself to all of us and notices this family and ask to hold the baby. I could tell both parents were nervous about handing their baby off to a complete stranger. Then he reassured them by saying he was a dad of a 7-month-old and a 4-year-old at home.
He went on to say, “if you need anything come find me if you need a two-minute sanity break find me I get it. I have been there myself.”
There was a joy in his eye as he held the baby. He didn’t even flinch when the baby spit-up. He just held out his hand so that it would land in his hand rather than on the floor. A true sign of a dad.
At this moment there was no question that this dad “gets it.”
As the flight took off the baby went to sleep and was quiet most of the flight. I could occasionally catch a glimpse of his hand behind me and think of our 7-month-old at home. As a tear would start to form in my eye, missing my family (and I had only been 2 hours away from them at this point), I was reminded of what I was leaving at home for just a few days while I am in San Diego.
James came back later in the flight to hold the baby. I could tell he was holding back tears as he held him thinking of the 7-month-old he has at home. The baby looked exactly like my 7-month-old and even looked at me and smiled much like ours. He looked at me, I looked at him, and in much of the same way that I make our 7-month-old smile, I made him smile.
A tear started to run down my cheek.
It was a reminder that despite the hardships of waking up three times in the middle of the night, coming home exhausted from work, whether I am fighting the two kids at a restaurant to eat, I am part of the brotherhood of dads. No matter how alone I feel in fatherhood, we are all going through the same things and will drop everything to help each other out.
As I landed in San Diego and talked with the other dads, it only helped to reinforce that. We all had the same stories and the same struggles as parents. We might have handled the situation differently but in the end, what matters is that we are all being an involved father and a positive influence on our children. No matter what we are all part of this brotherhood of dads.