In theory, of course you do. When you agreed to marry this person it was assumed that you would and could trust him with anything, including your most precious DNA-filled possessions. Theory aside, though, do you trust him? Can he do as good a job as you do feeding them? Getting them dressed? Putting them to bed? Do you feel uneasy leaving the kids with him for a few hours or, God forbid, an entire weekend? Are you afraid that the complex feeding and bedtime systems you have put into place will be blown to bits by his lack of know-how, thereby ruining their little lives forever? Are you a (gasp!) gatekeeper?
Admittedly, I am a control freak. I like things done the way I like them done, when I like them done. I would venture to say that many (most?) women could say this about themselves. It’s just how we’re wired.
Do I like the way my husband cleans the house? (Yes, he does sometimes ask what he can do to help clean. And, let me tell you, there’s nothing better to get me in the mood. How sad is that?) Nope, not at all. He misses corners of the room with the vacuum. He forgets to pick up the toaster oven when he’s wiping down the counters. And he doesn’t notice when there is crusty toothpaste in the sink. Who doesn’t see that??
Am I down with his laundry-doing methods? (Yup, he does laundry too!) AAARRRGGHHHHH!! That sweater was NOT supposed to go in the dryer!!!
And don’t even get me started on the state of his drawers and his shelves in the closet. How he can find anything in either of those places is a complete mystery to me.
But as far as the important things go—i.e., our kids—I trust him implicitly. To say that my husband is a hands-on daddy is an understatement. He has cleaned up every spill and pile of vomit. He has changed his fair share of disgusting diapers. He gets up before dawn with our son every other morning so that at least one of us is getting a decent night’s sleep. He has taken the kids out to play so that mommy can have a few minutes to herself. In short, I am one lucky lady because. While the cleanliness of the house is what it is, having a person to truly share in the child-rearing duties is priceless.
Yes, my husband has been a work-from-home daddy since our kids were born, making him slightly more available to share the kid-duties (and doodies) with me. But it has also allowed him to spend the time with them in order to find his own parenting style. He is patient when he needs to be, silly and fun when he wants to be, and firm when the situation calls for it. As far as disciplining our children, we are on the same page. My only qualm? His color-blindness leads to some fairly hideous outfits on the kids, so I try to stay on top of that.
And so, I ask again: Do you trust your husband to take care of your kids? Are you a gatekeeper? Have you given him the room and the freedom to explore his parenting style rather than foisting yours upon him and then getting pissed when he can’t live up to your standards? Does he show initiative with the kids, giving you the room, and the permission, to back off and take a minute for yourself? Do you give yourself the permission to walk away for a night or a weekend and take that break that you most certainly need?
On the flip side, what of the husband who considers watching his kids to be “babysitting”? Hang on … Aren’t these YOUR kids? Doesn’t the name “Daddy” imply that taking care of the children is in your job description? That your wife shouldn’t feel like she’s burdening you or the need to check in constantly to make sure that YOU are okay? This phenomenon completely baffles me.
Listen up, daddy. I don’t care how many hours you’ve worked during the week or that you are a night owl and just can’t get up before 8 a.m., your wife ain’t sitting at home painting her nails and eating bonbons while you’re bringing home the bacon. She is working just as hard as you are, be it at home with the kids or at a job of her own. This is not Mad Men and you are most DEFINITELY not Don Draper. You are a father in the 21st century, big guy. Time to get your hands dirty, accept responsibility for the little people you helped bring into the world, and parent them. Because, believe me, there are times when mommy would like to claim night-owl status and roll over when your kid decides to wake up at 5:30 a.m.
Livvy’s (Yoga) Corner
I got such an amazing response my last column about my charitable little girl. So, thank you—she really is something special. Tonight, Livvy is starting her yoga class. A few years ago I probably would have laughed at the notion of a five-year-old taking yoga, but now I’m not so sure. I took her and a friend to Sol Yoga Studio a few weeks ago to try out a class and they LOVED it. Instead of running around playing soccer or splashing around at swim lessons, the kids sat quietly and listened to a story. They tested out poses by balancing stuffed animals on their heads. They bent and stretched and twisted themselves into a state of sheer joy and, immediately upon leaving, asked when they could come back to do it again. If we lived closer to Sol (owned by one of my oldest friends) I would send her there for classes, but seeing as how we don’t, I had to find an alternative. Leave it to The NAC to have what I was looking for. I will report back next week in the hopes that she will enjoy this class just as much as the one at Sol, and that she will find an early love for yoga!
Robin Raskin lives with her family in Bucks County. She blogs Thursdays on Be Well Philly. Catch up with the series here.