“You left your husband with ALL the kids?” Seriously. What is this? Right along with, “Is Justin watching the kids tonight?” For crying out loud. My husband is a DAD, just like I’m a MOM. He’s not babysitting, he’s parenting. My husband is the oldest of eight kids. Yeah, I said eight. On our first date, he reassured me that he didn’t want that many of his own (because of course I asked). And yes, he is Catholic (that was my second question). I digress, but he probably has more experience with young children than I do! As our relationship progressed, we knew we wanted four, but as time went by and circumstances changed, we happily became settled with our three. When we fell in love and agreed to get married we discussed our future family. I knew I had a partner with the same beliefs on parenting as I did and never gave his involvement a second thought.
My husband is a firefighter/EMT and gone 24-36 hours at a time. The parenting falls solely on me during those times and boy is it HARD, but by no means am I the “main” parent. On the days he is “off” he works another job from home and balances dishes, laundry, and cleaning toilets to help keep our heads above water in the never ending housework. He makes most of the dinners so that we can eat as a family before heading to our next evening activity. He is often the one that takes the boys outside to play so I can spend time with the baby and regroup after a day in a classroom with teenagers. We share bath time duties and diaper changes. We tackle homework and carpooling together. Are there some responsibilities that I naturally take on? Of course, and so does he. We are co-captains of a team. It takes a lot of communication to make it all work and by no means do we have it figured out or down to a science. Our communication with each other in order to organize and manage the day to day is definitely a major work in progress. It’s not always a well oiled machine. Here’s the thing: there is no one else I’d rather be on this journey with and no other person in the world I trust more with our kids. On the rare nights I have a few hours out with the girls for wine (I mean book) club, or head to a yoga class, he’s there alone with the kids. Yes. Alone. Somehow I trust them all to survive and make it work. Crazy I know. I trust my husband with OUR children. Is the house always perfect when I get home and he’s been in charge, no. But guess what, there are plenty of days when he walks through the door and it look as though a tornado may have hit and I’m screaming my head off at someone to take a bath. The strengths and shortcomings work both ways. Do any of us really have it together when the parent to child ratio is 1:3?
Can we all agree as a society to stop belittling the fathers of our children? They are capable and they’ve got this. Are there exceptions to the capabilities of some fathers? Of course; however, that exception applies to mothers, too. We have to be careful not to generalize. My husband is a role model for our boys on how to be a father and husband. He’s hard working, nurturing and disciplined. He handles and shares responsibilities. For our daughter, he exemplifies what to look for in her future partner. In a way, I think his role in their lives is even more important than mine.
When we said “I do,” we vowed to stay committed in so many ways. This commitment extended into our future which includes raising our children together until they (hopefully) become productive members of society. Raising them together means we share the load on good days and bad, and sometimes we pick up the slack for the other.
On Sunday, my husband took all three kids out of the house so I could take a glorious, uninterrupted 2-hour nap. All kids came home happy and intact. It wasn’t perfect. I’m pretty sure he was exhausted and the formula was left at my brother in law’s house… but it did feel perfect when I woke up refreshed and grateful. Grateful for a man that is always on my team and loves to be with ALL of our kids.