The Evolving Definition of Masculinity: A Father’s Day Ode to My Husband


There’s so much discourse about mothers: our mental load, our invisible labor, our tireless efforts, etc. This space is valid and necessary. 

But it doesn’t leave much room to talk about fathers or the evolving definition of masculinity.

Particularly the fathers who work as tirelessly and thanklessly as mothers, yet don’t receive the same support or accolades. 

My husband Alex and me in Woodstock, VT, 2017.

I see it every day. In our family, the emphasis is often placed on my day, and my trials, tribulations, and the neverending ennui of being home with our son. It is true that I am our son’s primary caregiver. But there is a flip side to that coin – my husband, our family’s provider, who works 8 or 9 hours daily to make our life possible, then comes home to tend to the life he works so hard for. 

On Father’s Day, I need to publicly acknowledge my husband’s grace and strength as our family’s caregiver and primary earner, and how he lives within the evolving definition of masculinity. 

Just as mothers are more than their ability to raise children and manage a home, we must also see fathers as more than their paycheck. 

Alex in a selfie, playing computer games, with our sleeping infant son and dog behind him. Already working on his evolving definition of masculinity.

My husband is our family’s provider, and he’s also our caregiver. As well as an actor, a collector of books and miniature models for tabletop games, a computer gamer, a lover, a nature enthusiast, emotionally intelligent, etc, etc I could go on. 

Our society tends to define us by the one thing that connects us to capitalism. For my husband, and many other men/fathers, that’s their job. 

On the surface, the foundation of my family life is built on a tired old trope – my husband is the working father and I am the stay-at-home mother.  According to this stereotype, the working dad and stay-at-home mom are often portrayed in the media as unhappy and emotionally disconnected from one another, and from their children.

This trope does not reflect my family or my experience. It does not reflect my husband’s experience either. He’s writing his own evolving definition of masculinity. 

I’m glad to see how we, as a culture, are rethinking masculinity

I’m glad my husband can define for himself what it means to be a man, to be a father, to be a wage-earner, and to be a caregiver. That all coalesces in his evolving definition of masculinity. I am grateful that he can and does occupy all of these roles. 

I see him as a caregiver every day too. 

Every weekday morning, my husband showers. Some days, that’s all the time he has for himself until our son is in bed again. Because after that shower, he’s in dad mode until he’s in work mode. 

When his work day begins, he heads downstairs to our partially finished basement where he has his home office, after giving us goodbye kisses at the top of the stairs. He’s at meetings or trainings for the better part of his day. He doesn’t have downtime in his work life either. After work, he takes 15 to 30 minutes to decompress before joining me and our son wherever we are (usually outside). 

He jumps right into caregiver mode. I don’t just mean for our son; I mean for me too. He makes space for me to step away and catch up with my thoughts or go to yoga or sit quietly without being needed for a moment. 

Some nights, he makes dinner. Some nights, he does the dishes. Some nights, he does our son’s bath and bedtime routine. We trade off. 

My husband is a full and active participant in our domestic life. 

Because of his evolving definition of masculinity, he is a powerful role model for our son. 

My son is learning how to pee on trees from his dad. How to play “pirates” and observe the sea monsters in the deep ocean of our lawn (or maybe that’s from Bluey). How to roleplay in games like Dungeons and Dragons. How to treat women. How to say “hello, good morning” to strangers and neighbors alike. How to be a good host. How to work. How to care. How to love. How to show love. 

I can’t wait to see what our son learns next from my husband. I hope the evolving definition of masculinity makes this world a kinder place for my son and the people in his life.

What do you hope your kids’ father figure teaches them about masculinity?


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