My best friend and I had a recent discussion about the unconventional parenting styles of our husbands, when they are left alone with the kids. First of all, let me just say that I completely appreciate the fact that our husbands are even WILLING to spend time with their kids (I know some moms who have to bargain and coerce to get time "off"...), and recognize this as a relatively recent phenomenon. My mom marvels at how "involved" my husband is, and although she says in some ways it was easier for her to parent without consulting my dad about every decision (he left much of the childcare to her), she is impressed with the care he gives them.
So, back to my friend. She is a dance teacher, and once a week, travels to a nearby town to teach, leaving her hubby home with their four children through the dinner hour. What he makes each week is this: grated cheese in the bottom of a pot, cooked noodles poured on top, cold spaghetti sauce poured on top of THAT; stir it all up and serve. Haha! The best part is that they all sit on the kitchen floor, and he feeds them from the pot, with ONE FORK so that he doesn't have to wash dishes.
While SHE prefers a nicely set table and civility at dinner, she eventually recognized that her kids will likely cherish this memory of their dad, the way I cherish my memories of the days my mom worked. Dad would have to braid my long curly hair. The plaits were always crooked, too tight, or messy. And I loved them anyway, because I loved the rare experience of my dad's clumsy fingers trying to wrestle my mop into submission.
I sometimes marvel at the fashion ensembles my husband creates for our kids. And it used to secretly bug me, way back when I used to sweat the small stuff. He makes "interesting" meals for them, and somehow they eat his concoctions with enthusiasm. While I spend my whole day trying to make headway with the neverending housework, he takes them outside and "putters" around in the barns.
Recently, I came home to find this handsome fella standing beside our laneway, welcoming me home to my sweet man and happy kids:
It sometimes pains me when I think of the work imbalance that often occurs between mothers and fathers and how, in spite of the fact that I do at least 75% of the parenting and housework, my kids will likely remember daddy as the "fun" parent. They'll remember me cooking and cleaning and taxiing them here and there. And then I feel a little bit sorry for myself, because of the love, committment, and HEART I put into my job as a mom. What if they never appreciate me?
Then I remind myself of the gift it is for my children to have such a loving, involved father, who, by building a Welcome Monster with his kids and puttering in the barns teaches them creativity, resourcefulness, and the wonder of seeing everyday objects with fresh eyes.
If your children's wonderful daddy is nearby, go and give him a hug, and thank him for being there for you and for them.