Now before you read the title and write me off, give me a second to explain. There is a really valid reason that I stopped asking my husband to help with the kids.
Every household is different and every couple has there own rhythms and routines that work for them (hopefully!), yet somehow, in our culture, the responsibilities and expectations of parenting often seem to point more heavily to moms.
It Takes Two
I am just going to say it. I didn’t make these babies on my own. It takes two. So why would our parenting be any different? I am a firm believer that in a two parent home the responsibility of raising the kids is a joint responsibility.
Call me a millenial, but my husband’s job as a dad didn’t stop the day these precious girls were made. We are a team. Always have been, always will be.
When we welcomed our second daughter into the fold, all of a sudden we needed man-to-man coverage. No longer could I stubbornly try to figure it out how to do it all on my own especially as I recovered from a c-section. I knew that we would need to make some changes to our own routines and expectations.
Watch Your Language
Since we had our second daughter a month ago, I have been making a conscious effort to watch my language. No I don’t mean I gave up swearing as that was never really my thing. What I mean is that I am trying to change the way I talk to and about my husband and his role as a dad.
Since I have nursed both of our girls, it would be easy for my husband to think that there was nothing for him to do. It was equally as easy for me to think that I just had to let him sleep all night while I woke up to a screaming baby.
When we had our first daughter, I would always ask my husband to “help” with things. It was as if he was doing me a favor or helping with “my job”. With this came guilt and hesitation. I would feel bad asking, so sometimes I just wouldn’t. And then we got into routines.
So here is the deal, and it bears repeating: Every household is different and every couple has their own rhythms and routines that work for them. That being said, dads are NOT helpers. They are not babysitters. They are parents. Just like you, Mama. So we need to start acting like it. We need to start changing our language and our expectations. I have learned to leave the guilt at the door and to both ask and expect that Ryan rolls up his sleeves right along with me.
I want our girls to see that there are not certain roles that are strictly Mom’s and other ones that are only Dad’s. I want them to see us as a team. We both do the dishes, the laundry, the meal prep, the play time and the bed times. It wasn’t always this way. A lot of it was birthed out of necessity. Necessity for my sanity mostly, if I’m being honest.
This means we have to be intentional. We have to try. We have to communicate. I am learning that he can not read my mind, so I have to be intentional about telling him where there is a need and how he can fill it. He admittedly wants to have equal partnership, not only in our marriage, but in parenting.
It’s okay to ask. In fact it’s healthy and essential, both for our marriage and our children. But when I ask, I am not asking for his “help,” I’m asking for a partner.
For us, in the newborn phase that looks like Ryan doing more with our oldest daughter, more housework and more cooking. He has been a rockstar. Because I got into the habit of asking, he got into the habit of doing. There was and is a large learning curve and a lot of room for grace, apologies and forgiveness along the way. Though we are still learning as we go, I am so appreciative to be on this journey of parenting with him.
These are powerful words that hold a lot of weight in our house. When I thank my husband, I am not thanking him for being a “helper”. I am thanking him for being intentional. I am thanking him for being the husband that he is. I am thanking him for being the dad that he is.
I know that I don’t say it nearly enough. So Ryan, thank you for all that you do and for being one hell of a husband, a Dad and a partner-in-crime!