Every day in my Facebook world I see many posts like, “Shout out to _______ for taking care of the kids last night!” or “I have the best husband in the world, he held the baby so I could take a shower.” It got me thinking. Why do we feel the need to praise our spouses for helping? If you saw, “I have the best wife in the world, she held the baby so I could take a shower,” what would you think?
While I applaud gratitude in any form, it is not a miracle or above and beyond the call of duty when a dad cares for his children. They, not only, are capable of taking care of their tiny humans, they are responsible for their care and excel at it… if we let them.
It is so easy for us to enter into mommy mode and mother everything in sight. We become criticizing machines, judging others for their obvious incompetence in dealing with our precious bundles of joy. We begin to view and treat dads as children because they struggle with things like diaper changes, styling hair, or creating healthy-yet-palatable meals for toddlers.
But here’s the thing, moms struggle too, there’s just no one else is there to swoop in to save us, so we figure it out.
We become excellent. When newly-minted-Dad begins to struggle, we step in and take care of it telling ourselves it is just easier. But is it? Is it easier to be the one who has to do every darned thing? DADS ARE PARENTS TOO! They need to struggle. They need to learn through trial and error just like us. They need to have space and freedom to become excellent. And guess what? When they become excellent then your tiny human has TWO excellent parents. Amazing!
I’m just as guilty of this as the next mom. When my first was born, we were hardening ourselves for a grueling 15-month-long deployment. Two weeks after her arrival, her dad was boarding a plane to Iraq and thus my parenting journey began. By the time he came home, we had a toddler and a routine that didn’t involve him. I, being the control freak that I am, didn’t let him learn to be a dad, I just handled it and let him off the hook because it was “easier.” It took me going to grad school and having weekend and evening classes to give him a chance to try parenting solo.
It was rocky.
Turns out there is a pretty steep learning curve when you’re more familiar with an AK-47 and a tourniquet than a wild redhead in fairy wings. Then, five years later, little brother arrived and my husband had never done the baby part, so I took care of it. On my 30 minute runs, I would get one or two phone calls asking if I was done yet. I was resentful. Why was it that I had to do EVERYTHING? Oh yeah, because I created the system that was backfiring on me.
Three kids in now, I can say this. Dads can do this parenting schtick if we let them. I should know, I was raised by my dad. He, having majority custody, raised my sister and I on his own. No grandma, girlfriend, or nanny at the house. He learned by trial and LOTS of error how to bring up two girls. Sure, there were terrible hair-cuts, outfits, and we learned more about hunting and fishing than mani/pedis, but we were better for it. We succeeded in school, learned the value of hard work, and how every person in the world adds value to it. We may or may not have been exposed to beer-drinking-cigar-smoking foolishness and we were more likely to be seen in Carharts than tutu’s, but we were cared for.
We were loved.
Every doctor’s appointment, band concert, softball game, and volleyball tournament was attended. Every spelling word practiced, agenda checked, and thank-you note overseen not to mention the daily life of a parent in the unending laundry/dishes shuffle. Even the dreaded tampon run was made, because they can do it.
Dads can do it all and be excellent and my new year’s resolution is to let them.