Dads Are Parents Too

The television is on in the background while my husband and I are getting dinner together for ourselves.  It’s a show that neither of us have seen before, a typical family sitcom, and we each catch a few lines here and there and chuckle.  At one point, my husband asks me what is actually happening on the episode, as he has been unable to garner the theme from just the few scattered scenes he has watched.  I stop and pay attention for a minute or two and it becomes very clear that this is the type of episode of family television that I absolutely loathe – the kind where the dad is a bumbling idiot who doesn’t know how to parent and is attempting to prove to the mom, the overachieving perfect parent, that he can do the bare minimum of tasks without her help.

lazy dad

I find this theme completely insulting for my husband and all the other wonderful dads that I know.  From the dawn of television this has been a common subject among family sitcoms, one that portrays the dad as an incapable and inept parent and the mother as the goddess of parenting.  It often portrays a savvy, strong completely competent mother magically doing it all, while the father comes home from work, cracks open a beer and sits his tuchus on the couch for the remainder of the evening ignoring his family.  This is such a demeaning and insulting way to portray men.  We spend so much time focusing on equality for women (which, yes, is MUCH needed) that we seem to ignore when we are doing the same thing to our male counterparts.  This outdated portrayal of the father who works all day and can’t be bothered with household duties such as parenting is almost as antiquated as the idea that women can’t work outside of the home and be a quality employee just like their husbands. 

We rightfully spend an incredible amount of time teaching our little girls that they are equal to men. We make sure they understand that they can become astronauts and rocket scientists, Supreme Court Justices and Presidents, but for me, it is just as important to teach my son that he can be a quality parent equal to that of his wife.  Just because I am a female, a mother, it does not make me a better parent then my husband, a father.  The definition of a parent is literally, “a father or a mother.”  My husband and I are equally qualified to provide support to our children.  Yes, there are some things that I will do better and there are some things my husband will do better, but together we make one excellent parent. 

When we decided to have a family, we made the decision together, with the understanding that they would have two equally competent parents.  Since then, there has not been a single day since when my husband comes home from work and does not participate in the parenting duties on some level.  He does it—despite being obviously exhausted after an entire day of work—because he loves his children and wants to be involved in their lives.  He does it with a smile on his face and the care and attention that it deserves.  He is directly involved in every aspect of their lives. He knows, without asking, what will make them stop crying, what they eat, how they like to sleep, how well they are doing in school, and what areas of life they struggle in.

I do a lot of volunteer work and I recently returned to school.  This would be impossible if I didn’t believe that my husband was an equally excellent and competent parent.  Many nights I miss bath time and putting the children to sleep.  He doesn’t “step in” to any role.  He is their father and does it seamlessly because that is the task that our children require that moment.  There are just as many nights that my children call out, “daaaadddddddyyyyyyy” to come in and help them with whatever is ailing them.  This does not make me jealous, it warms my heart.  They love him and understand that they can rely on him in their most trying times just as much as they can rely on me.  Together we are teaching our daughter that her role as a mother is a shared one, and our son that being a parent is equally as important as being an employee.

 

What Dads Really Need To Hear This Father’s Day, And Every Day

There can be nothing more true then to echoe  the sentiments said last Father’s Day.  Year by year you remain the same, caring, wonderful husband and father we love.

We see you.

We love you, daddy!

We love you, daddy!

My Dearest Husband,

Sometimes I forget.

I forget that you too have had a hard day at work.  When I toss the kids at you the second you walk through the door, I take for granted the fact that I have not even given you a moment’s break before beginning your other job as daddy.

I overlook the fact that this new crazy, wonderful, stressful, magical, difficult, beautiful, maddening life we have created is also an adjustment for you too. I wasn’t the only one whose life changed when we heard Man cry for the first time.

 jordanandry

I lose sight of the fact that when you have to put your job first, you really are putting us first. It takes a lot to provide for a family of four and maintaining a job is a key component of that.

I lose track of just how many Saturdays and Sundays you take them out and give me a chance to rest. You see it, you see how hard it is, and you understand how much I need a break.

Daddy, take us fishing so mommy can have

Daddy, take us fishing so mommy can have “alone time”

I forget how hands on you are. Your willingness to take over and do whatever is needed, no questions asked.

I misinterpret the fact that although you (and I) mess up sometimes, you are not a punching bag. You are my best friend, my love, my equal, my co-parent, my partner in crime.

I try not to think about the fact that you need a break too. I have to remind myself that being at your work is not “alone time”.

I cannot imagine the added stress you are under since having children. I find it hard to live up to the expectations of motherhood and that’s the only job I have right now. You must find it twice as difficult to live up the expectations of employee, boss, and father. So many people need you (me the most) and you are only one person.

I see you.

I see how loving you are, how much the children adore you, how much they need you.

jordwkids

I appreciate how much patience you have with them, but especially with me.

I am sure that I would have never made it through the first few years of motherhood without you by my side. I leaned on you, and you held up with your unwavering strength.

I feel your support, your unconditional love, your confidence in me as a parent. I am a better mom with you as their dad.

I listen when you tell me I’m beautiful even if I haven’t showered in days. You tell me not because you think I need to hear it, which I do, but because you truly believe it.

I forget to tell you as often as you need, no, as often as you deserve, what a wonderful person you are. This only makes you an even better partner for me and father for my children then I could have ever thought possible. My gift to you this Father’s Day is to make sure that you are filled with the knowledge that you are loved, appreciated, seen, and understood. Ok, ok, I got you a real gift too, I’m not that lame.   But keep these words in your heart so the next time I forget, you remember.

Husbands Are People Too

Dating, falling in love, and finding your perfect soul mate is difficult. There are millions of movies, books, websites, and matchmakers dedicated to this very topic.  Hell, I clicked on the television prior to starting this post and before even beginning to channel surf, surprise, surprise, Sex and the City 2 was telling its tales of love and woe on TBS.

By my mid-late twenties I had been single for over two years. I had met and dated lots of guys and no one had stuck around for more than a month or so.  I was discouraged and scared.  Was I ever going to meet anyone? I was a horrendous dater; I fell into every trap there was. I was the poster child for what NOT to do; I was intense, needy, and probably even a bit scary at times.  I was the girl who seemed amazing on the first date but by the third date made men run for the hills.  Dating was just not a sport I excelled at.

It was a Tuesday; I was sitting in my therapists’ office telling her that a friend was going to introduce me to someone new that evening.  I was tired, I had just had another guy give me the send-off; I whined that I didn’t want to go and was likely going to cancel. I just needed a break from trying.  She pushed me.  Just do it, she said — what’s the worst that can happen?

Later that evening I walked into my friend’s apartment and saw this beautiful man in front of me. He reached to shake my hand and just like that it happened – love at first sight.  (P.S. He claims it was love at second sight for him, this works just fine for me because it was love nonetheless.)  He made it easy to avoid the pitfalls and traps of dating; he made me feel secure, wanted, and loved.

Our first vacation.

Our first vacation.

Flash forward seven years later, two kids, a dog, and a house in the burbs and here we are.  I am thankful every day that I found him.  I am NOT an easy person; in fact I’m a huge fucking pain in the ass.  Don’t get me wrong, he has his issues too, we all do, but we love each other both because of them and despite of them.  That is what real love is – accepting and embracing each other’s shit.

I have been sick for about a month now. Nothing major, but one thing after another that has made it difficult for me to be on top of the kids in the way I need to be.  He too has had a rough few months at work and is dealing with a rotator cuff injury, but despite all of that he has made every effort to give me the time I need to rest.  Putting his own needs aside he takes the kids on Saturday and Sunday mornings and lets me sleep in.  He lets me take naps later in the day, and, if needed, stay in bed all afternoon while he occupies the kiddies.  He is a good man, a wonderful husband, and a spectacular father.  If this feels different from my normal posts then so be it; he deserves the praise and public grandeur that I bestow upon him.  This is the “thank you” he is worthy of, the thank you he has earned, being both my husband, my partner, and father to my children.

We recently celebrated our fifth anniversary, and a great-grandparent who has been married for over 70 years recently pointed out, we are still just babies at the marriage game.  This is true, I don’t know much yet but so far I have learned the following:

Wedding day!

Wedding day!

Being married means you get to live with your best friend every day, forever!!

Admitting you’re wrong sucks, but saying you’re sorry isn’t so bad. He always seems to understand.

There is always a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on and a person to share a laugh with.

You wouldn’t fight if you didn’t truly love each other. You just wouldn’t care enough to do so.

Making up is splendid.

When you ask him to do stupid things like grab the remote that is seven feet from you but ten feet from him, or go fetch you some late night snack from the fridge upstairs, he stops what he’s doing and does it, no questions asked.

You can be madder at him then anyone ever in your life, yet live with the comfort that that’s okay.  Conversely, he might want to kill you, but you know he will get over it eventually.

There is no one you would rather share the joy of child rearing with. You talk about the kids endlessly and it never gets old.

The first thing you ask your husband when he gets home is how his day was. Thirty seconds later you are allowed to bombard him with the parenting problems you encountered that day.

The small amount of time you carve out for yourselves is sometimes spent sleeping.

Listening is really hard and really important, and I really suck at it. So I practice.

Food really is the way to a man’s heart.

Watching him play with the kids and be a good dad is really sexy.

Cliché cliché, but good communication really is the key.  Just say what you need to say; it will save a lot of time and heartache.

Accept the flaws. Attempt to embrace them and if you fall into the toilet in the middle of the night because he never puts the toilet seat down, don’t feel bad about waking him up and reminding him that he forgot to do so.

I don’t think there are enough words or sentiments that would truly let my husband know the depth of love that I have for him.  As I said before, I am thankful every day that we were brought together, true soul mates meant to be.  He gives me more joy, annoyance, happiness, irritation, pleasure, frustration, delight and enchantment then anyone in this world.

Babe, I’ll continue to tolerate your shit if you continue to tolerate mine, deal?

The Fam

The Fam

Speaking “Mom” On Mother’s Day

Flowers, chocolates, jewelry (well, maybe not jewelry) – they are all a waste for Mother’s Day.  What mothers really want is to just be left alone for a nice day off!  We would happily forego the sparkle-covered Hallmark card (that we will inevitably be cleaning up later) expressing how we are God’s gift to mothers for just some simple R&R.  Children, you want to give your mom the perfect gift? Here is how to speak “mom” on Mother’s Day.

You will not be joining me in the bathroom at all, for the entire day.  Today I will pee alone, without your tiny little hands darting in and out of my pee stream.  You will not be poking my belly fat with wet, germy fingers while I try to finish up as quickly as possible.  The toilet paper roll will stay intact and not be your afternoon snack.  The toilet will not be used for any reason other than its designated purpose.

I will shower in peace and even blow-dry my hair without having to stop every few seconds to take away some mysterious bottle of liquid that you dug out from under the sink.  You will not rummage through my makeup drawer or apply mascara and blush while I’m trying to shave my pits!

I will luxuriate while reading an entire chapter of my book while taking a poop with the door locked. (If you bang on that door, Daddy will not be afraid to remove you from the home.)

My glasses will remain on my face at all times and will not be removed for use as a toy or a weapon in any way.

You will not slap me across the face, even if it is meant affectionately.  Moreover, you will not grab and pull out clumps and/or individual strands of hair from my head.

You will not use me as a tissue, napkin, or paper towel.  I will go the entire day without you wiping snot on my hands, pants, face, hair, shirt, etc.  When you’re done washing your hands, you will use the appropriately appointed hand towel; my shirt and pants legs will remain dry.

You will not place half chewed, discarded food bits on me during your meals.  In fact, I don’t even want to be at the table when you’re eating.  I will not be feeding you.  If you would like to join me for my meals then headphones and an iPad are required.  I will eat said meals SITTING DOWN, not hovering over the counter quickly, shoveling in leftovers when I get a brief moment.

I will be taking a nap… and so will you!!!!

There will be no tears, whining, or complaining.  I think the term, “if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say it at all” comes into play nicely here.  Now, I understand that you are little and this might be an unfair expectation, therefore, I will revamp that statement and say the following; if you need to cry or whine, then take it to your dad or a grandparent.  You will also not refuse to participate in the day’s chosen activity. 364 days of the year are all about you, and today it’s my turn.  And no, there will not be animals, farms, bouncy castles, slides, or McDonald’s French fries involved in my choice.

No, you may not take a sip of mommy’s special Mother’s Day juice.

I will be sleeping in.  That means that when daddy comes to get you out of your crib you will not shudder in the corner screaming, “Nooooo, I WANT MOMMYYYYYYYYY!!!”  Honestly, that wakes me up every time.  He will remove you from your crib, kicking and screaming if necessary, and then drive you to the nearest diner where you can scream your head off all you like.  You will stay away for at least two hours, giving me my much earned alone time.  On the way home, you will pick me up croissants, a sausage egg and cheese sandwich, and delicious coffee.

You will give me endless hugs and kisses without refusal.  You will snuggle with me and tell me that you love me.  You will tolerate when I smother you with love and thank you for making it possible for me to even celebrate this holiday.

[Editor’s note: Father’s Day is a month away.]

How Your Husband Can Become Superdad!

“Would you rather we be fat?” I got this question from a friend and father of two when talking about leaving the kids home with their mom to go to the gym.

Um, seriously, when given the choice of a few extra pounds and a flabby tummy or having an extra set of hands around the house for an hour and half a few more times a week, the answer to that question is a very emphatic, “HELLS YES!”

Parenting is hard, divvying up the responsibilities so both parents and kids feel satisfied is even harder.   Somehow it never feels quite equal.  Well, that’s because it’s not; no matter what, moms bear more of the burden when it comes to day to day parenting responsibilities. It just comes with the territory.  This may leave your wife feeling, well, a bit frustrated.

Dads—you want your wives to stop bitching, nagging, complaining, and yelling?  Well, I will let you in on a little secret; that will NEVER happen!!  Well, that’s not entirely true.  There are a few things you can do in order to alleviate some of those, “you need to do more around the house” complaints that we wives are so famous for.

First comes a general understanding that parenting is a job.  If your wife leaves the house to go to her second job then you hire someone to, yes, say it with me, WORK for you.  You’ve all spent the day with your kids before, you know that this work day often starts at 5:30AM and doesn’t end until 9.  It’s a looooong day that involves irrational discussions with toddlers, poop, crying, meal prep, nap times, etc.  As you’re opening that door on Monday mornings and taking that first gleeful step out of the chaos and into the privacy of a car with a radio that you control, we are still at home having the same irrational discussion about why popcorn is not an adequate breakfast.

Learn how to dress little girls.

If you’re a man who likes to have a home cooked meal on the table when you walk in, stop expecting it so often or learn to cook yourself.  If you feel like you just can’t cook, then grill.  If you don’t know how to BBQ or at least don’t think you know how to BBQ, then you don’t have testicles.  If you live in a city, even easier, show up on the doorstep with takeout that is both flavorful and healthy (so as not to add to our muffin top) and you WILL get some that night.  Wine in the other hand helps too.

Change diapers.

When we ask you to do things like wash bottles or put a load of laundry in that doesn’t mean just on that day, it means forever.  If you see a bottle sitting next to the sink, it’s not soaking for its own general benefit; it’s likely there because your wife’s hands are cracked and bleeding from washing so many bottles with all of those little parts.  Or because your kid took off his poopy diaper in the middle of the room and she was tending to that.  Or because she just didn’t feel like it.   You see where I’m going with this.  So, if you’re nice enough to be washing the dishes that are already in the sink (thank you for that by the way, we really appreciate it) and you see a bottle sitting there, just make it go away.  Same rules apply for piles of laundry and dry cleaning.

Getting up in the middle of the night with your kids and letting your wife sleep is really really sexy!  The more rested we are, the more willing we are… just sayin’

Limit your own personal alone time; choose one or two activities out of the house to reclaim your own sanity (because we need you sane…so we can drink!); whether it’s the gym, hitting golf balls, or a softball league.  Whatever it is you choose to do, we want you to have your time too, Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-8PM and Sundays from 9AM-11AM.

When both children are screaming simultaneously, the answer isn’t “I’ll be right there as soon as the game goes to commercial.”

In all seriousness, you dads have it hard too, you bear the pressure of being the bread winner (sometimes) and then you go home to chaos, and you do indeed do double duty.  We get it; we understand that it’s a difficult adjustment for you too.  Really it just boils down to being considerate of the simple things.  If you see something and your inner monologue says, “Do you need this done?”  or “Can I help with that?” then there is no need to truly ask, the answer is likely “yes”.  Don’t wait, just jump right in because here is another secret; we don’t really know what we are doing either and we could use the help!  Only together as a unit can you successfully reclaim your home and your lives from your kids!

Please note: I adore my husband; he is my, partner, best friend, and a WONDERFUL father.  Many of the items in this blog come from general observation and discussions with other moms as well as from personal experience.  (FYI, he does a bang up job dressing Lady and if he offers to cook you dinner, the answer is yes!!)

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Our Superdad!

Big Dumb Animal (By ManVsDaddy)

 The coolest thing happens when I open my front door.

 First, of course, I get ambushed by the dog. Once I can shake her, I look beyond the phalanx of baby gates to see Man sprint-crawling toward me, screaming “Dada!!!” with delight. He crawls so fast he burns his knees. He grins as if he’s seeing a clown on stilts.

As soon as we meet, we’ll play nonstop for at least a half hour, rolling around, jumping in the air, diving on the couch and otherwise concussing ourselves. I’m laughing, Man is laughing. We give airplane spins around the living room floor, Man shouting with joy.

Later on during the day, Man will make an effort to hang out with me. He’ll “request” to be in my arms when my wife is holding him. He’ll crawl over toward me when his mom is diligently sitting on the floor with his toys. Needless to say, this drives my wife crazy.

“I spend 24 hours a day with him, seven days a week,” she’ll say to me, “and all he wants to do is be with you!” My response? Well, of course he wants to hang out with me – I’m just a Big Dumb Animal.

She’s the one who—for the most part—feeds him, changes him, tells him when it’s time for sleep…she’s the Mom with a capital M. He loves her—he couldn’t live more than five minutes without her and he knows it—and therefore she is singularly the most important person in his life. She teaches him, she nurtures him, she cares for him—he knows it and he loves her for it.

But I’m that other guy who’s around, and I’m much bigger, hairier and wilder than she is. She likes to read books and play with his musical Ferris wheel. I like to throw him around like he’s a rag doll. I bite his belly until he laughs so hard he blows his nose. I play Pop Goes The Weasel and at “Pop!” throw him so high in the air he once brushed the ceiling. (It’s fine, honey.)

And plus, he knows I’m not the Ultimate Authority. He knows I’m going to defer to Mom on the big stuff, and he and I can just horse around in between. I’m just a Big Dumb Animal—kind of furry, crazy enough to throw him around, and pretty stupidly clumsy when it comes to actual child-rearing. And since I’m the Big Dumb Animal, he cuts me a lot of slack.

Feeding time for Mom is often a challenge, but he typically eats for me. I don’t do anything different—I cut up food and give it to him—but he sits in his chair and he eats it. I think he knows I’m just the play-around guy, the backup quarterback at best, and he just wants to hang out and do stupid stuff too.

Man and I went on an all-day field trip to see my grandfather a couple of weeks ago. When I got home, my wife asked, “Did he cry?”

“No,” I said.

“Did he nap?”

“Yes,” I said. “The whole ride down.”

“Did he poop?”

“No,” I said.

“He never got cranky?”

“No,” I said. “We were just having fun the whole time.”

She muttered something under her breath and shuffled out of the room.

I don’t think my wife should be all that concerned that Man sees me as a Big Dumb Animal. She should probably be more worried about the fact that he’s becoming one himself.

We’re All Idiots

All right, moms. I know this isn’t going to make me the most popular Dad around, but somebody’s got to lay some knowledge on you. Stupidly, my wife left this job to me.

 Your husbands are all just like Rodney Daingerfield. We don’t get no respect. Stop getting angry….let me explain.

To the stay-at-home moms who may read this, my dear, beautiful wife included, we get it. We spend the weekends with our babies, and so we recognize that the job you have is exceptionally challenging. It’s physical work, chasing the kid around all day, and it’s mentally taxing, since you need to be alert all the time. Since your time is no longer your own, it’s difficult for you emotionally as well. Being alone with a little kid all day is tough…your husbands understand and appreciate this. But here’s the thing, see… 

We work really hard too. Unlike the reverse, you don’t typically get to see us doing our jobs during the day (unless your husband happens to be a television personality or a professional athlete). But actually, really, when we’re out of the house all day, we’re working too. Yes, we may (generally speaking) like our jobs, but work is still work. We may sit at a desk, but our minds are being exercised – and stressed – every hour of every workday…and many of the hours when we’re not working.

Plus, you need to consider the undeniable fact that we are all idiots. Come on…you knew this when you married us:

Yeah: we need 30 minutes in the bathroom on Sunday morning. We know that’s a luxury for you; tough! You knew it when you married us.

We watch sports and generally place way too much importance on our teams and the outcomes of their games. We all know deep down inside how stupid this is, but we also know it’s never changing.

We have hobbies that take up ungodly amounts of time: my thing’s golf but fishing, hunting, spelunking, whatever…you knew it when you married us. Hey wait—I know you’re starting to get angry again…

Remember: We’re idiots. You expected this dramatic change? We’re doing the best we can. We’ve made changes and concessions. To us they are huge. To you they are unnoticeable. Surprised?

When we’re out doing our thing, or out of touch daydreaming, we are not – I repeat we are NOT – saying that we’re uninterested in you. We are not saying that we don’t value the hard work you do all day. We are not saying we don’t respect your need for your own break. We’re just saying that we’re stressed out, we’re conditioned to need and expect some free time, and, always remember – we’re idiots. You knew this when you married us.

I know this probably leaves you feeling pissed off. I know there’s a good chance you may take it out on your own husband – fellas, I apologize (it’s nothing you haven’t heard before). In all probability you’re questioning why, after procreation is complete, you need a man in your life at all. Can’t answer that one. I’m just an idiot.