I’m going to tell you younger mommies who have little children something I wished someone had told me years ago. This one revelation may save years of angst and strife. It may not solve all the problems with hubby or in parenting, but trust me, you can have peace and patience with your spouse you never knew possible.
Recently a mommy wrote in asking me how to divide the work of child-rearing between she and her husband. She was probably looking for an easy to follow task list that they could each know their duties and would be sharing the load equally.
Her intentions were fine and I know sometimes it is challenging with tiny kids to really divide up the work when so much of it can be mommy oriented to begin with.
But in reality what can happen when we make up neat little to-do lists with our small children, someone (usually wifey) becomes the task master over her husband hen pecking him into his fatherly duties. Her heart is right– she wants hubby to spend time with the children. She knows if she isn’t intentional about letting him know how she needs help he can easily drift home, drift in and out of the room on his phone or working odd errands around the house, and before you know it bedtime has come and he hasn’t really sat down with the kiddos. I understand– as a wife that is part of our job– to HELP hubby know what/how/where we need him in the home. I mean, they’re men, they aren’t psychics! As wonderful as our husbands are, they can’t instinctively read our minds and meet every need.
And yet, if I can tell you that through my experience over the last 20 years of parenting, my children don’t remember my INCREDIBLY BUSY AND HARDWORKING husband as the dad always on the phone. The dad with a 1000 balls he’s juggling in the air. The dad who was always so busy. The dad who was never so focused.
They remember the breath-taking moments over two decades.
They cherish the mornings spent duck hunting (where thankfully, there is no cell service).
The vacation in the Bahamas (also, no cell service!).
The early morning runs together.
The late night pizza while cleaning out the garage.
The football games he coached.
My husband’s a very busy man. Day to day his focus can be scattered. His temper can sometimes flare (disclaimer: mine flares worse!). But because I DON’T SPEAK BADLY ABOUT HIM to them they don’t even remember those times. Calm down and remember that children don’t see things the way we see them…and while it is healthy and necessary as “helpers” to our husbands that we remind them or cue them in when they need it…our children will mostly remember the amazing moments they share with their fathers and not focus on their shortcomings. Our children will see our husbands through the lens we frame him in with our words.
So forget the list of neatly divided child-rearing work between husband and wife. When there are young children, it is pretty much “all hands on deck” all the time. But when we resort to a list of do’s and don’ts, you-do-this and I-do-that, we will begin to hen peck and destroy the spontaneous joy fathers can bring into the lives of their children.