Two years ago my friend and a member of Path Forward’s Board of Directors, Gayatri Agnew, started a new holiday called Mother’s Monday. The idea was simple: While we “honor” mothers on Mother’s Day we don’t support mothers, and especially mothers with careers. The expectation is that Mom celebrates with her children on a Sunday but then pretends she has no caregiving responsibilities when she gets to the office on Monday morning. Mother’s Monday is a day to celebrate Mom at work and have conversations about how we can work together to better support Moms and, by extension, other caregivers in the workplace.
This year my friend Brian Anderson at Fathering Together has launched Father’s Friday with a complementary mission. The gendered narrative that makes it difficult for many mothers to realize their ambitions and achieve their professional goals also makes it difficult for many fathers to participate in the lives of their children and families in the way they would most want.
I remember when my daughter was born, my husband went back to work fairly soon after she came home. It’s funny to think that it was only 13 years ago, but it was pretty rare then for men to have or take paternity leave. At the end of his first day back to the office he came rushing into our apartment, ran over to her little bassinet and said “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe how much I missed you.” Fast forward to three months later, when I returned to the office, many people asked me “Don’t you miss her?” And I was struck that no one — not one single person — had ever asked my husband “Don’t you miss her?”
Brian has put together a great set of events — all of which can be viewed on demand — centered around changing the narrative around fathers that is too narrow and reductive and instead replaces it with stories that show fathers in all their diversity and depth.
I’ve had the privilege at Path Forward of meeting some amazing fathers who took on the role of full-time caregiver for their children or other family members. From the day we opened our virtual doors we have been a gender inclusive program — it is our belief that gender equality will be achieved when men share caregiving equally with women and corporate policies support all caregivers in finding the balance they need to achieve their dreams.
Thanks, Brian, and everyone at Father’s Friday for creating this great platform to celebrate Dads who are so much #MoreThanANecktie.