My first introduction to fatherhood was my father. Who took me everywhere. I spent more time with him, than with anyone else. He was, in many ways, more involved in my life than my mother was. And I could talk about the unhealthy dynamic of my family, or I could just remember riding the LRT with him. I choose the second.

My second significant experience with fatherhood occurred when I was still pregnant. I was at a party one night, and a father was packing a diaper bag for his child. And the mother, in the middle of the party, with everyone watching, she took the time out to examine the diaper bag. To make sure that she thought everything that should be in there, was in there. A step by step inspection of his work. I honestly can't remember if it met her approval. But I remember being flabbergasted. I cringed at the humiliation. I remember thinking "This man is an educated, articulate, intelligent man. He's actually quite brilliant. The company he works for permits him to make significant decisions about its future. I'm pretty sure he can figure out what to put in the diaper bag. The child is not new. And if he forgets something, I'm pretty sure he can figure out what to do." This wasn't the friendly reminder of sleep deprived parents, no it was the implicit assumption that unless mum provides the childcare, it will be done wrong. Dad isn't an equal partner, he doesn't deserve equal say.

That was when I began to learn what was fashionable among mother's. To bash husbands, to bash fathers. To assume that only mum can nurture, to assume that Dad's are dangerous. To allow a child, even encourage a child to cling to mum, and to leave dad out. Dad, after all, doesn't matter. It's women who do the important work of bearing and raising children. Dad's are a semi useless appendage responsible for about 5 minutes of work.

We all know the stories, the sayings. The dad who can't change a diaper, the dad who was useless at housework. Mum's kisses make things better. Mum knows what to say. Mummy will fix it, get it, solve it. Mummies are naturals at childcare. Daddies are uncouth louts who muddle along as best they can.

I was struck by something as I looked at the pictures of Gabriel for last Tuesday's post. I was taken with how natural Mr. Spit looked picking up Gabriel. How he held him perfectly in the crook of his arm, as he made phone calls. How he carried him in his hands. How he revelled in Gabriel's perfection. How perfectly our son was made to fit in this daddy's arms. And how right and good and how natural Mr. Spit was. It isn't that he's held a lot of babies, but this wasn't a baby, this was his son.

I went looking for a father's day card last week. (Oddly enough, Hallmark has no cards for the father's of dead babies). All I found were cards that joked about wreaking the car, needing money, golf and farts. All I found were the same old tiresome stereotypes. And I thought of Gabriel who nestled so perfectly into his father's arms. Who felt safe enough there to leave for heaven. Who knew who daddy was, and that daddy loved him. Who felt his father's tears on his tiny face, and realized, that men can care and nurture too.

Mr. Spit will do things differently than I will. He will introduce danger and risk and exhilaration. And I will no doubt cringe. But I will take a deep breath, and I will remember our tiny, fragile son, held in his father's arms, exactly where he belonged.