We are kind of more traditional in the sense that my husband has always been the main provider financially and the head of the house while I hold things down in the home. I teach the kids and even when I worked, I worked part-time so I could spend most of my time in the home…so I guess it comes as no surprise what my reaction was when I decided to go to Vegas. The world called my home can’t turn without me, right? I must enlist all the help for my husband I can possibly get while I am gone. There is simply NO WAY he can do this parenting gig solo, right? WHAT? You mean to tell me I thought my husband could not be as good as a dad as I am a mom? And I am in NO WAY tooting my own horn, because I need some serious improvement in the mom department, but this is my DAILY JOB, how can he possibly do it without me…that was my thought process.
So, I went on a trip to Vegas with some girl-friends and my amazing husband took off work and stayed with the kids. I left Thursday afternoon and got home Sunday evening. I have a secret; I was a little worried for a little while (ok, a LOT worried). Then I realized I needed to give my husband some credit. What tipped me off to getting off his case was when someone said “so he is going to babysit the kids while you are gone?” Ummmm, what? Scuse me…he is their DAD. I don’t think that when a dad watches his own kids it is called “babysitting” and my husband did not think so either.
So here’s the deal sweet mammas (and trust me, I am TOTALLY addressing myself FIRST here). Give dads some credit. And here is how I came to that realization:
I started preparing for my trip months in advance. I had to pump lotsa milk for the baby. Then I had to make a list of groceries to buy before I left because I simply couldn’t imagine my husband going to the grocery store with all THREE children! THEN I thought I needed to buy convenience foods (things we don’t usually eat like frozen chicken nuggets and corn dogs) so that my husband wouldn’t have to cook; never mind the fact that my husband actually cooks dinner willingly on most week-end days and some week days! So here I am, completely selling my husband short.
Here are things that ran through my head: what if he doesn’t change the baby’s diaper like I do (he changes diapers on a daily basis, cloth ones even). What happens if he doesn’t feed the same things for breakfast that I do? Will he remember that the baby needs to eat three times a day plus have snacks, because a baby doesn’t let you know when she’s hungry, right? Is he going to make sure the kids drink enough water? Will he remember to buckle car seats? Can he handle taking the kids to Isy’s track meet in Chickasha? Will he be able to handle bed time? Showers, clothes, shoes, diapers, food, driving, drinking water…will he remember that he has kids and they have to be taken care of, basically. I mean, it’s like I actually forgot that he sees his own children every day AND helps take care of them and raise them and bathe them and everything else…every.single.day.
THEN someone mentioned that he would be “babysitting” and I had the nerve to get offended. Even after all my mind was doing to “plan” for my time away I got offended for my husband when someone said this. Wasn’t I saying the same thing by doing all of the above and having all those doubts? Wasn’t I leaving lists like we leave with the baby-sitter and buying microwavable foods and schedules and so on…I mean, I am basically treating him like the baby-sitter, not like the father! SO, I had to jump back! Here’s what really happened…
Scott took the kids out to eat a couple of times and cooked and never even touched that convenient food I bought (hahaha). They went to the track meet, they watched movies together, they went to bed and showered…they all basically lived normal lives without me micromanaging every detail.
You know what else? There was no fire, no street running, no baby escapes, no natural (or unnatural) disasters. NOTHING bad happened (unless you count the few bags of pumped breast milk that bit the dust…in my world that is kind of a disaster, but I digress). So, you mean to tell me that my family survived without me…not only did they survive, but they thrived and had FUN?! To top it off, the house wasn’t even trashed when I got home!
WHY do we let that amaze us, though? Is this because our culture has led us to believe that men cannot possibly take care of their own children? Why are we so shocked to see a man taking his children to dinner without mom present but it is perfectly acceptable to see a mom anywhere with all her children and daddy isn’t around?
So what I basically want to say is this: let’s quit selling dads short. Give them some credit when it is due. Sure there are some men who make a conscious choice not to care for their children, and we hear about them so much more than we hear about the women who make that very same choice. You know why we hear about “deadbeat” dads more? Because that is what we have been taught. Come on, now. We seriously need to give those men who do make the decision to be a dad a break.
Moms, things don’t have to be done OUR way to be done. It is perfectly acceptable for a dad to change diapers different or choose outfits we would never choose or even not put bows in the baby’s hair (GASP)! And quit reloading the dishwasher when he has already loaded it (you know who you are)! Are the kids fed, clean, and nurtured? Does he put forth an actual effort daily to do daddy duties without you asking or arguing about it? He does? Then let him without nitpicking…again, I speak to myself before anyone else! I’m terrible about wanting things done MY way, you know the RIGHT way (wink wink).
I was out all day the other day and didn’t cook dinner but when my husband got home from work he threw some burgers on the grill without batting an eye. THEN he probably changed the baby and helped clean the kitchen. You know why, because he not only values the work I do and considers my work at home a career, but he values his role as a dad and he does it daily because it is a natural thing to do. It is perfectly common, normal, and acceptable for him to come home and change diapers and hold a baby and read to the boys and even cook dinner because he is a dad. He has a job outside the home, but he cherishes his job in the home as well.
So girls, remember, if your husband is trying to be a dad, let him. Not all kids or moms get this luxury. Even if his ways are different from yours, let him be a dad. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t hold the baby the same or that he lets them watch tv a little more or bathe a little less. It’s his job too so let him do it his way. Your kids have someone amazing and so do you, let your kids see this amazing guy so they can grow up with the same expectations! So long as nobody is getting hurt, just let it go. And cherish it because apparently dads being dads is a thing of the past, so much so that we offend our dads with terms such as “baby sitters”.
So let us all “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).