A dad writing for “Fargo Mom”… it’s the year 2020 and nothing makes sense. So, here we are, ladies. I thank you for welcoming me and I am excited to have the opportunity to write for a new audience.
Some of you may know me as Mr. Full-Time Dad, the alter-ego I created when I became a father nearly five years ago. Little did I know at the time, the name would prove prophetic, as a few short months into fatherhood I became a stay-at-home parent to Macklin after two underwhelming daycare experiences. (We’ve all been bombarded with bad news for months now, so I’ll leave it at that and assume many of you can relate to the heartaches that so often accompany entrusting others with the care of your children.)
For the better part of three years, it was the “Mack and Daddy Show.” Being a stay-at-home parent was the greatest gig I’ve yet landed, even edging out camp counselor, which I never thought would be topped. With Macklin, my soon-to-be five-year-old, by my side — or on my shoulders, in the kid carrier or strapped into his buggy behind my bike — every day felt like Father’s Day. It was delightful.
So, when in October of 2019 we learned that baby brother was on his way, I immediately begged my wife, Emily, to let me do it all over again. It didn’t take much convincing, as the benefits of having me home all day every day extended far beyond the obvious perks of not having to juggle daycare schedules, drop-offs and incident reports.
Not to brag, but I was in my element at home. The house was tidy, groceries were well stocked and supper was ready by the time Emily got home. Mack and I had a perfect routine: he’d play in the morning while I got some freelance work done, we’d head to the gym for a couple hours of socialization for him (at the gym daycare) and exercise for me, back home for lunch and nap then an afternoon walk to the park to explore things like ants and dandelions.
I’m very much looking forward to getting to do it all over again. But in some ways, I’m more anxious this time around knowing how much has changed since then. Baby brother is due June 24th, just a few days after Father’s Day 2020 — perfectly timed to avoid having to get me a gift, a real chip off the ol’ cheapo block — and such timing gave me pause to reflect how this Father’s Day will be unlike any other for a multitude of reasons.
No Pandemic Parties
No matter the cause for celebration, the highlights in life these past few months have been obviously and necessarily dampened by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve already missed out on birthday parties, anniversaries and a plethora of milestones like graduations we would otherwise celebrate together. But there have been no parties and no gatherings in most households… certainly none at our house, as we were warned early on the data is mixed at best when it comes to possibly elevated risk factors with pregnancy.
So, Mack, Emily and I have been hunkered down since early March. Mack’s daycare has been shut down since then, Emily has transformed our nursery into a home office, and I have continued to work from home as I often did prior to this forced commune we’re now enjoying. There have been no baby showers, and I have even been forbidden from accompanying Emily on the last few doctor visits. While I admit my excitement has been more subdued with the anticipation of baby number two, I can’t help but feel like I’m even more removed from the experience this time around.
We’re also forced to look ahead to his arrival knowing there will be no visits from grandparents at the hospital, nor for weeks after. I am ever so grateful for the support systems we have in our lives, but lately I have been more thankful for our independent nature and ability to thrive through moments that require self sufficiency.
Born Into Civil Unrest
While the Covid-19 pandemic has brought disconnect and heartache, the end is somewhat obvious. Science and the fruits of The Enlightenment will solve this problem for humanity, however long it may take. The challenge that has lurked barely under the surface for generations, however, has no such obvious fix.
Yet, I am hopeful. You and I may differ extremely in political persuasion, but there is no arguing the realities on the streets across America and around the globe. I am only 37-years-old, so my hindsight isn’t as deep as some, but I can still say this is the strongest display of first amendment rights I’ve seen in my lifetime… and I am uncharacteristically optimistic about our future as a result.
My children likely won’t remember being alive through it all, but they will grow up with a “normal” that is altered — for the better, I believe — as a result of both protest and pandemic. Which will force the greatest change? Both have revealed massive opportunities for advancement in nearly every corner of society. From economics to healthcare, from the workplace to the dinner table, everything has been touched in one way or another. Our goal? — Live these lessons with open eyes now, so we may teach them with compassion later.
Father and Candidate
The last strange twist to Father’s Day 2020 is the fact that I am also running for office… a challenge I never thought I would accept. In fact, I said no twice, as I admitted in a fundraiser letter that I sent out to approximately 500 family, friends, neighbors and perfect strangers.
The difficulties of trying to balance running a campaign with preparing to welcome our second baby have only been exacerbated by this global pandemic. The standard rules of campaigning had to be tossed out the proverbial window. There is no door knocking. There are no socials, no parties, no fundraising events. Everything is digital, and therefore less personal… and therefore a bit more stressful.
I often feel torn between my two current worlds: being a father and being a candidate. I know I will do both well if I win, and I’ve got immense support behind me in both roles, but the fear of short-changing one for the other is a constant… and will be until November.
One to Remember
So, yes, Father’s Day 2020 is going to be one I will forever remember. Probably not with crystal clarity, as that would be giving my terrible memory way too much credit, but I will remember this confluence of so many heartaches and hopes flooding together like never before.
Dads, here’s wishing you a relaxing and “somewhat normal” Father’s Day. Moms, thank you for welcoming me into this space. It’s a strange time for us all, so go easy on yourselves. Mark the milestones as best as you can. Enjoy the record levels of family time. Enjoy those brief moments of solitude, as well. I don’t think I’ll have much of that for the foreseeable future, so steal a few extra minutes for me, too.
Ben M. Hanson is part freelance writer, part stay-at-home parent, part new home salesman and could-be legislator. He’s got his own “dad blog” called Mr. Full-Time Dad and is looking forward to returning to his favorite role in the near future, as he and his wife, Emily, are expecting their second child in late June.