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An ode to the modern father

A native of the storied coastal city of Charleston, South Carolina, Julie Sprankles has been a lover of words her entire life. As a Southerner, she certainly has what her mama calls “the gift of gab.” When she’s not writing, Julie can be...

We salute thee

As society continues to evolve, so do the roles we each play. This Father's Day, we give credit where credit is due: to the men redefining just what it means to be a dad.

It's a classic conundrum for the modern mom: How do we strike the perfect balance between motherhood, a burgeoning career and a social life? Or, if we choose to stay home with our babies, how do we maintain that tenuous tie to those outside of the scope of our home? How do we remain relevant? Can we really have it all?

Much attention has been devoted to the subject, with everyone from anthropologists to religious figures weighing in. And with no shortage of television shows and films centered on the harried family matriarch, our cultural landscape is now full of consideration for mothers.

But what about the dads out there?

The modern father is a far cry from the stereotypical disinterested dad of the past. He is involved. He is invested. He is nuanced. He is a partner and a lover and a friend. He is the confidante with whom you share those parenting moments you fear everyone else will judge you for ("Your kid got into the kitty litter... again?").

He wakes up early to make coffee and load up the Crock-Pot with what will bubble and bake and become the warm meal the entire family enjoys in the evening.

With a simple distraction or the gravitas in his voice, he can quell any coup. He is an expert mediator — the referee you call in when a scuffle breaks out over fruit snacks or who burps the loudest (ahem, parents of boys).

He isn't afraid to shelve his masculinity when his daughter wants to play princess tea party. He willingly trades his tie for a tiara and morphs into Queen La La Sparkletoes just to put a smile on his favorite girl's face.

Instead of coming home and sacking out on the sofa with a cold beer, he tunes into his kids instead of SportsCenter. He is a football fanatic who can also rattle off the stats on every BPA-free bottle currently on the market.

He is the proverbial "big gun" you call in when your toddler takes off his diaper and Jackson Pollocks the walls with it. He's your own personal crime scene cleanup, and he makes it look cute to boot.

He only grumbles a little when you veto the playdate ensemble he decked your kid out in — one that makes him beam with pride and leaves you wondering if he's colorblind.

Or perhaps he's that dad. The dad who seamlessly weaves a fishtail braid while you're still watching the Pinterest tutorial. The dad whose kids are always so put together they look like a living, breathing ad for Baby Gap. In a matter of minutes, he can whip up an immaculate bun for ballet class or score an insane deal on a designer dress via Zulily.

He is a navigator — the guy you want weaving the tandem stroller through the crowded farmers market because, unlike you, he manages not to plow down things like crates of produce. Or leisurely samplers. Or small children.

He is the divorced dad who gladly gives up prime golfing weekends to spend more time with his littles. He is the single dad who puts dating on the back burner so he can always tuck his babies into bed. He's the stay-at-home dad who dodges discarded LEGOs and questions about where babies come from like land mines, and whose kiss can magically heal any boo-boo. He is one-half of a loving two-father family. He's the biracial dad who is too busy teaching his kids the importance of kindness to notice rubberneckers.

He's the one who'll tote around your infant in the trendy baby sling at the grocery store when you are irrationally paranoid you'll accidentally smother it somewhere between the farm-fresh eggs and the Pepperidge Farm Mint Milanos.

He can re-wire a ceiling fan and comfort your newborn at 3 a.m. (Ideally not at the same time, although he could probably handle it.) And he's the only person you'd ever trust to toss your child — squealing in delight, undoubtedly — into the air like a miniature human hacky sack.

The modern father, you see, is right there next to the modern mom, redefining societal norms. When your babies are born, he isn't sitting in the waiting room like his father likely did. Rather, he's there in the delivery room, holding your leg and helping you bring life into this world.

And so it goes. The modern dad isn't an idle spectator... he's a tour de force. For these reasons, and so many more, we give our thanks to the modern father. This one's for you, guys.

More on fatherhood

Celebs weigh in: What's your favorite memory with your dad
Books by celebrity fathers
When Daddy is deployed: A military mom's parenting journey

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