To the mother whose husband doesn’t babysit – I get it.
I agree with you completely.
Neither does mine.
He and I both bristle at the b- word, too.
My husband, like yours, is a devoted dad who cares for our three daughters, ages 6, 3, and 1 year. He cuts up their food at the dinner table. He wipes away the tears, listens to problems, searches for blankies, and kisses away boo-boos. He does it all with incredible empathy, patience, and animation.
He even plays Barbies much better than I do.
Before we became parents, he was on a much different trajectory, however.
You see, he had been raised by a dad who seemed to consider his job good and done when he got home from work each evening, and plopped down in his recliner with a diet Dr. Pepper to watch the game. He didn’t do diapers, brush hair, or wipe messes. He rarely spoke; let alone about feelings. He was not unlike other dads his age; or the ones who came before him.
This was my husband’s model.
As the father of my future children grew into manhood, he battled depression and quietly began exploring concepts like identity, love, and family relations. He studied God’s Word. He read Wild at Heart, by John Eldridge. He knew that he’d been raised in a broken system (aren’t we all?), and his identity had been affected by the lack of contact, affirmation, and approval.
He faced this reality; and with what he knew, feebly approached his father.
There was embarrassment. There were tears.
The redemption and healing in their relationship, and the tender manhood that sprang forth from them both is a testament to my husband’s great courage.
But don’t forget, the stage had already been set. The habits, barely yet practiced, where still rooted into his muscle memory through the generations. So as we looked forward to the arrival of our first bundle of joy, I asked him, “What are you looking forward to about parenting this little girl-child?”
His answer just about terrified me: Teaching her to drive…Taking her back-packing across country…Dropping her off at college.
“Whoa! Whoa there!” I said, “She’s going to need you waaaay before age 16! In fact, if you don’t start raising her until then, you’ll have already lost her!”
I know. I’m a daughter, myself.
So we dug in deeper. We examined other examples of fatherhood that we knew. He read my copy of Captivating, by Eldridge and his wife, Staci. He started to understand that diaper changing, chin wiping, and bow tying went a lot deeper than lending a helping hand to a tired postpartum partner.
He had to press the reset button and BECOME.
He, like your husband, is part of a band of brothers who are shifting a paradigm about the work of fatherhood that went awry who knows when, and our language hasn’t caught up with them yet.
So many moms still view themselves as the best; the only, caregiver. In some cases, they are.
Some have no choice in the matter.
That’s why I try to hide the bristles popping up on my skin when a friend asks me out of “generational habit” if I left Dad at home to babysit while I got out for a break.
In all honestly, as you alluded to yourself, it often does feel like an escape. Now that I’m in the thick of stay at home parenting, there is a certain bliss that I experience when he – on top of all the hard work he does for us – sacrificially offers me the chance to walk out the front door. Alone. No one’s hand to hold. No bulky diaper bag strapped across my shoulder.
But you’re completely right that he’s NOT a babysitter.
And depending on how good of a relationship I have with that inquisitive female in the grocery store aisle, I either smile and nod, or assert to them what a great and capable father he is; someone our girls can trust in completely for all their needs.
Refining the language.
Acknowledging what loving men God has given us.