The last few posts have been so obsessed with challenges of motherhood, that does not mean I dont understand the challenges of fatherhood. I may not have a lived experience of it, but I can definitely empathize the new generation of fathers.
I guess more than anything else the challenge is in reconciling your personal desire to play a role of the father in different ways viz a viz a social expectation of what you are expected to do or not do. Many young fathers today want to spend time with the child. They dont want the mother to be the sole/primary care giver. I think this change is because not only are women expecting fathers to be more actively involved, but men themselves want to be actively involved in parenting. They want to share the same special relationship with the child which a mother does. Since I became a mother, I have been observing many fathers pitch in in different ways with child care. Some of them accompany the child to day care, helping her get adjusted to the setting. Some of them travel with their wives and children when she has a travelling assignment and pitch in with baby sitting when she is away. Some of them, who work flexi or non-regular hours pitch in with most of the routine feeding/bathing etc, specially if the mother has a job with regular working hours.
Unfortunately, while within the relationship and family, this role is acknowledged, in our society, it is still hardly recognized. Paternity leaves are granted in some places, but it is hardly a given right. Neither are opportunities to review nature and conditions of work, which can help the father spend more time with growing children. Worse, within families and extended families, a father who is proactive in child bearing is viewed with condescension.
I remember right after Migu had come, there have been many offers to relieve my husband of any specific chore of parenting (like mixing her feed for the night), but seldom have those offers been extended to me. It may seem that these people are more considerate towards the father than the mother, but I would say, they are actually insulting the father, by refusing to acknowledge the important role he is willingly playing.
It is probably stretching comparisons too far, but in a way, this is probably similar to the condescending attitude which women frequently face in the workplace. Just like it is assumed that women cannot do certain tasks at work, it is assumed that men cannot do certain tasks at home. And just like the condescension is actually a disrespect for women, this condescension is actually a disrespect for men.
I am in this phase, when I want to radically reinterpret existing gender roles and give them a positive twist. So let me go ahead and state this. Women are finally ready to share the joy of parenting with their partners. This is a well-deserved reward for the men. Let us encourage more and more women to share this joy.