Since our son was born, my husband has heard countless references to him being Mr. Mom: whether he takes our son to the park, watches him while I am at the gym, or is at home caring for him while I’m at work. Even I’ve been guilty of making references to my husband babysitting, whereas when I’m watching our son, I’m simply doing my job.
Recently, an elderly woman stopped in awe of my husband taking our little guy to the grocery store. She told him: “In my day, if I weren’t the one here at the grocery store with my son, I would have been accused of being a bad mother.” I don’t know about you, but half of my friends are in a lifestyle where the mom leaves the house for a corporate job and dad is at home doing the parenting job.
Times have changed. Perhaps our words should too.
But it is not so easy.
When I was pregnant, friends warned me, “no matter how helpful your husband is, it is very different with a baby,” implying he would be of little help. I won’t lie, I was incredibly frustrated with him. To me, it was obvious what needed to be done for the baby and around the house. I cried many times wishing my mom were alive because she would magically know about these “to dos” and I would not have to expend what little energy I had left explaining and making lists.
Our life path led us to where our son is fortunate in having his dad at home with him while I go to my corporate job. This realization forced me to reassess my frustrations.
It started with two words: thank you.
Once I stopped focusing on my lists and checkboxes, and instead paid attention to and showed appreciation for all the things my husband did, the big things magically got done. More importantly, they were not my way, but his, and often even better.
- Songs he’d make up to soothe or entertain while feeding. Games he would play. Outfits he would put together. Tricks he’d use to put our son back to sleep during night terrors. Photos he’d take from angles I wouldn’t think to. How he lays all the bedtime stuff out before bath time. How he shares the day’s events through texts and pictures to make me feel included.
These are just a few examples of his way that don’t even begin to speak to how my husband takes care of me and our son.
Perhaps society’s (and women’s) shift in thinking has proven difficult because our lens is to judge dads on how effectively they do what moms would do. It is simply not fair because men and women are so different; thank goodness for this! Just like we women are asking for changes in how we are viewed in the workplace, perhaps it is time we women make a change in the home on our perception of dads.
Dads are not babysitters. Dads are not helpers. Dads are not playing Mr. Mom. They are simply being incredible dads.
Happy Father’s Day!