My husband and 3-year-old son recently went camping in our back yard. A few nights before, my husband arrived home from work with his arms full of camping gear, a long receipt from REI, and big plans. I was skeptical.
But that Friday night, they headed out with the tent, sleeping bags, and their supplies, both giddy with excitement. The plan was to sleep out there all night; they made it three hours.
The three hours included two trips inside—first because my son got hit in the head with a flashlight and needed a hug from me. The second time, they were looking for string for a reason that’s still unclear to me. I was summoned via text once to bring more pillows out to the tent.
Eventually, they came back in and I put our son to sleep in his bed (after he changed his mind three times about whether he wanted to go back outside or not).
During their three hours in the back yard, I gained a new appreciation for my husband, and now I finally believe him when he tells me that while he’s not a baby person, he will to do more with our kids as they get older.
We have two boys, ages one and three, and ever since our first son arrived, I’ve handled a majority of the baby stuff—diaper changes (my husband insists that it takes two people), feedings (even though both were formula-fed), nighttime wake-ups (yes, we both work full-time), etc.
It was rare for my husband to take either of our boys anywhere without me when they were babies. He wasn’t sure what to put in the diaper bag, when they would need to eat next, or what to do if they suddenly woke up in the stroller and had a crying fit in the middle of the grocery store.
This is not to say that my husband can’t do these things or that he never does them. He’s a great dad and he spends a lot of time with our boys. On rare occasions when I travel for work, he does it all and does it well.
But when we’re both home, he generally does the more fun, easier tasks, while the true chores of parenting fall on me. This happens, in part, because I’m as terrible at asking for help as he is at helping without being asked, but also because, as he’s always told me, he’s “just not a baby person.”
I totally get it, because here’s the thing: I’m not a baby person, either. Before I had my own, I always thought babies were awesome—awesome to hold for about 20 minutes, while they were sleeping.
While having my own kids has changed that somewhat since my oldest arrived, I’ve longed for the days when they will actually be able to do things, and when Saturdays won’t stretch on forever because I find playing peek-a-boo and singing silly songs a bit soul crushing after a while. Some Sunday evenings, I actually look forward to going to work the next day so I can send them to day care and have a break from their constant neediness.
Much like my husband, I can’t wait to watch them play sports, help them with homework, go on family ski trips, and have real conversations with them. (Yes, I know I’ll regret the wish for homework and that those conversations won’t always come easily.)
I dream of going to the beach and playing volleyball with them or watching them play in the waves from a chair on the shore without one of them attached to my hip.
Or my greatest fantasy: a Saturday morning when my husband takes them to play soccer and I sit on our porch alone, reading a book with a cup of coffee.
The back yard camping trip, which was entirely my husband’s idea, made me realize that he means it when he talks about the things he’ll do with our kids as they get older.
It’s everyday stuff, too; he recently took BOTH boys to the hardware store, giving me almost 20 precious minutes to get dressed and put makeup on, alone. It’s not much, but right now, I’ll take it.
While neither one of us is truly a baby person, in our house, there are reasons I am still the one better suited for many of the more mundane childcare tasks. That might sound like I’ve just given in, and maybe I have, but it’s what works for us.
So for now, I’ll do more than my share of the baby stuff and smile as my husband and 3-year-old watch snowboarding videos together and make big plans. Even though he’s not a baby person, he loves our boys fiercely, and as they transition out of the baby phase, I’m starting to see the dad he’s becoming—a dad all three of us are very lucky to have.
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