It’s Okay to Get Excited About Dads Doing Dad Things

In the internet universe, certain topics trend in relation to what everyone else is talking about on one particular day or another.

Whether it’s a climatic moment in pop culture, a news headline, a YouTube video about cats or just a plain old topic that everybody seems to be buzzing about at once. Blogging also follows this trend I have noticed. 

Right now, from where I sit and type, one of the most written about topics in the mommy blogging world is actually…dads. 

I see women who say that they are not going to make a big stink over dads doing what dads should be doing. Whether he is changing a diaper, giving the baby a bottle or keeping the kids by himself for a few hours, these are dads doing what they should be doing.

So why do they keep getting all the praise for doing what they ought to be doing?

I actually understand this on some level because, yea, diapers have to get changed, babies have to get bathed, the kids have to have food and glue cleaned out of their hair – why should it be such a revelation that dads also take part in this, too?

But I want to make a point:

For many, involved dads are not the norm. But maybe we can help change that if we celebrate fatherhood differently.

Let me start with saying that my husband, the father of my children, is both a great spouse and an *amazing* parent. I had some expectations going into the parenting business, but not many. 

And what expectations I did have he has since completely decimated. 

He might not always know where to find spare outfits for the kids even though I’ve told him, like, a thousand times where to look, and he may try to conspicuously pass the infant off to me when she has a poopy diaper, (really though, who can blame him for trying?) but he is an exceptionally great father.  He cleans up messes. He changes diapers. He disciplines. He loves on them. He is available to them. He holds them.

Fatherhood button

And I am so thankful for him.

I am also thankful to be surrounded by plenty of families that have wonderful, involved fathers. 

But I am also aware that I am surrounded by families and friends who don’t boast the same thing.

Whether the father is present but not as inclined to take part in midnight feedings for the baby or to be an occasional extra set of hands. Whether a family is separated and the parents have to work out arrangements between each other for the sake of their children. Or there are women who have children with little to no help at all from their children’s father, of any kind, there are plenty of families who do not fit the same mold that my family, and many other families do. 

One of the most prevalent, yet quietly overlooked crises out there is children growing up without their father. 

Fatherhood is one of the most
overlooked treasures of
the modern age.

 

Yes, there are homes where the mom is the absentee parent. Yes, there are homes where the dad is the primary caregiver for the children while mom works. I understand that families look very different from one another.

But when I hear women/wives/mothers saying that they aren’t going to get overly excited when they see men being fathers to their babies…something inside of me is unsettled by that. 

Because It’s just not that simple.

Yes, there is and should absolutely be an expectation of involvement from fathers. Yes, I personally expect my husband to both help me and to take charge when it comes to our children.

Rob and the kids

Yet despite my expectations, am I still excited as all get out that my husband is thriving as a father? You better believe it!

I know that I am incredibly lucky to have a father like him for my children, just as I am sure that he is grateful to have a mother like me for his children. 

No, moms, it’s not our job to try to force dads be more involved. No, it’s not our fault when they are not. That is their choice, their mistake to make. 

This is not a call to celebrate the bare minimum, this is a praise for the richness that is passionate fatherhood.

This is looking at fathers and saying that we need them, too. We notice when they are gone, and more IMPORTANTLY, we notice when they are here, getting it right. 

We don’t necessarily need to be excited about each individual task, no matter how big or how small. But we should be excited about fatherhood. We should recognize when we see it being done well and be excited about it when the men in our children’s lives break the mold that modern-day society is setting.

It does not diminish the importance and impact of one role when we celebrate the greatness of another. 

We should absolutely be celebrating the men who are beyond involved in their children’s lives. Especially the men who shatter the out of touch expectations our society has had fatherhood in the past and who break the mold of what is becoming the norm in this generation of lackadaisical parenting.

Just like we should also be singing the praises of moms who do incredible things every. single. day. for their children. 

We can’t want to feel appreciated and seen and treasured, ladies, when we aren’t willing to extend the same courtesy to the fathers of our babies. Be EXCITED about fatherhood.

See your children’s father for the gift that he is when he gets it right…and even when he gets it wrong (cake for breakfast is not a well thought out idea.) And go ahead and swoon a little over the men who absolutely, sold-out, all in love their babies.

 

 

“What the world needs more of is people holding babies.”

Jeremy McKeen

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How to survive (and bless) an overly-tired wife

The title for this post may seem a bit misleading at first. Especially for the husbands out there.

Maybe you haven’t thought about this before, husbands. Did you know that in some small way your life may be in danger once your wife’s energy capacity reaches zero? You just never realized how close to the chest you were playing it before now.

For instance, if you clip your toenails and leave them on the floor after she’s been awake all night with sick, screaming children: you’re probably in danger.

If you walk in the door at the end of the day and find your house messy after she’s dealt with potty training, kids fighting over Lego’s, a flat tire and a dog who puked on the carpet, and you ask, “soooo, what did you do all day?”: you’re probably in danger.

If she collapses into a sweat-pants-wearing heap on the bed next to you with messy hair, wearing that old t-shirt from high school that she wouldn’t want anyone to know that she still has, (and you had better not tell) bags under her eyes and you ask,”are you tired or something?”: you’re probably in danger.

That is, once she takes a nap or actually manages to get six uninterrupted hours of sleep you’ll be in danger. Just you wait, mister. Just you wait until she gets up from where ever she’s sitting. Then you’ll be sorry….

I was trying to broil chicken earlier tonight. And it was all that I could do to stand barefooted by the stove, blink away the fog from my eyes and nom on the chocolate Teddy Grahams I’d made a bowl of. That was a graceful effort in multitasking. Because that’s all I had energy for.

Don’t think that the irony of my standing over a hot stove while simultaneously pregnant and barefoot escaped me. And no, I really don’t care if I’m using the word “irony” correctly in this case. Correct uses of literary devices be darned!

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Sometimes, I’m trapped by these people who keep asking me to feed them. It’s almost like they know where I live or something. And they feel the need to keep coming back to ask things of me. 

I know that you, too, may also be exhausted, husbands. I get it. The workforce is not all rainbows and baby unicorns. I’ve been there.

It’s just that I can only speak from the point of view of the wife. And if I’m tired, I know I’m not the only woman out there who shares my sentiments. That is, if we even have the brainpower to think let alone hold any type of sentiment that isn’t all about wanting coffee.

Husbands, I know that sometimes, we wives devolve into something that…doesn’t even resemble your wife. We’re part machine, – running against some imaginary clock, trying to get the job done – and part animal – we hungry, we sleepy, we want sit on sofa with coffee so everyone need move out of way.

We can be…almost scary.

You might not know what to do. You might not know how to get through to us and bring us back to reality. You’re willing to help but might not know where to even start. 

How do you get your wife back?

I’ve been there with my husband, that’s for sure. Able and willing, just not sure what that looked like in that particular moment.

The truth is, learning how to encourage and help one another is an art form that takes practice. From both parties in your marriage. Thankfully, I’m married to someone who gets it and is incredibly helpful and supportive.

I’m happy to pass on some of the knowledge that I have gained by actually being served by my loving husband these past nine years. I’m glad that I can be here to help.

So, here are a few tips for surviving your tired wife, while maybe even giving her a glimmer of hope. 

Take the kids…

It seems so simple, right? I’ll build upon this later, but for now – let’s start here. 

Take them outside. Take them to the park. Take them to play upstairs. Just take them….away. From her.

Literally, sometimes all it takes is a thirty minute chunk of time where the sound of small, squeaky voices are absent for her to find herself again. Even if only a bit.

 

Let her out of the house…

If you love something, set it free. 

If you really, really love something, set it free with a bunch of its girlfriends, some mexican food and margaritas. 

The trash goes out more than your wife goes out without the children in tow. And there is just something about going out without small people attached to you that makes all the difference. There is something about walking unimpeded across the street or ordering your food without being interrupted by your child’s requests for your smart phone. 

Us moms can’t explain it, but it’s as true and unavoidable as the laws of physics. 

You can plan an evening out well in advance OR you can be a total gangster and surprise her with your spontaneous spontaneity skills and tell her to get out. Like, right now.

You’ll finish the dishes while she heads to Target, buys a coffee and peruses commercial goods in the wild, where she might happen upon other moms also lucky enough to venture out and who share her affinity for candles. 

She’s a peacock, you gotta let her fly.

motherhoos

And while she’s out…

While she is out, don’t just think it’s enough to simply keep the kids alive. Feed them dinner, bathe them and put them to bed, the same as you and your wife would any other evening

Then, do something SUPER crazy. Ready? 

Do the dishes. 

Pick up the toy area. 

Put away the basket of laundry that has been sitting on the floor of your bedroom for three days. 

Do what SHE would be doing if she were home. It’s no good to leave her extra work piled up high causing her to regret ever even going out. Time out should be worthwhile. She shouldn’t have to play catchup when she gets back home. You can play mom tonight. I believe in you. 

And let me emphasize you putting those children to bed. At the very least, please send them off to beddy-bye.  She doesn’t want to stroll in at 10:46 p.m. to find you all eating popcorn, in your underwear and watching Aladdin on the couch. That’s a no-no.

 

Or…Volunteer….

To negotiate with the terrorists – aka putting the kids to bed.

To make miracles happen – aka cook dinner.

To take over for bath time aka wrestle the children flailing about like miniature krakens in the bathtub, put soap on their bodies and make sure you clean the play-doh out of their hair.

Say you’ll do it. Without having to even be asked

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Wake up with the kids

Here is another idea: wake up in the morning with those little people. And by “wake up” I don’t mean wait “five more minutes” to actually get up out of the bed from the moment you first hear them rattling in their cages. No. The moment you hear them, pop up, go and get them and take them far enough away that your wife can’t hear them.

Then close all points of entry to the bedroom, turn down the television, remind them to be as quiet as mice and tell everyone that mommy is to be left alone

The kids may not be sure what to think at first. After all, it’s usually mom that feeds them pancakes and mans the remote to find Mickey Mouse. But they’ll come around. I promise.

Why right away? What’s with all the hurry?? Because by the time YOU hear them, your kids have long since been making noise and your wife has already been listening to them for 17 1/2 minutes. And speaking from experience, the moment I hear my children start rustling around or asking for milk and cartoons, my brain, despite my best efforts, tries to turn itself on and I get to a point of no return. At which point, I may as well just get up with them.

So wake up with them. And do it quickly. 

Tell her she’s beautiful… 

She may not be sure what you mean at first. She may be skeptical. She may even be grumpy or seem unreceptive or appreciative at first.

But after those miniature love demons are in bed, and the house is still and you’ve both collapsed into the bed, brush the hair from her face and tell her “thank you.” And tell her that she’s beautiful.

If she’s like me, she’ll be sure that you’ve probably done a bunch of drugs before getting into bed, if only for the fact that she’s probably missed a shower for the day and she’s wearing the same pants as yesterday. And she might not get it at first, but we both know that you do. 

So say it.

Also, tell her…

That you see HER. That you see what she does for your family. And that you’re sure there are a thousand little things in-between what you actually do see that you don’t get to see her do (scrubbing behind the toilet, emptying the lint trap in the dryer, cleaning the bottom drawer in the stove) and that you’re glad that you have her. That you’re all glad that you have her and that you couldn’t manage without her. 

Why? Let’s be real here for a second. If your wife spends any lengthy amount of time with your children, if she gives up her ability to go to the bathroom alone or to be able to walk to mailbox by herself  – if she sacrifices that, willingly, she will from time to time go a bit crazy. There is no question about that.

And the best person to bring her back to life (and possibly Earth), the person she wants support, confirmation and encouragement from the most in the world is you. You can give her stability and peace when she has days that might not give her any.

You can affirm her and build into her with the words you choose to flush into her wounds and bruises on the days that don’t go right. They’re more important on those days than on the days that everything goes swimmingly.

 

So that’s why you serve her. That’s why you love her. That’s why you lift her up. 

And all of this reminds her of why she does what she does. Every day.

So, you had a baby…

So, you had a baby. And your life is not the existence that you once recognized. Heck, your body really isn’t even the body you once knew (or your wife doesn’t look entirely like the gal you fell in love with,  but to you, she is still insanely beautiful, right?) You stare into the mirror at those dark circles and puffy eyes, at a body worn out from labor and delivery and sleep deprivation and think (or maybe say aloud) who is that woman??

I remember doing that very same thing in front of my bathroom mirror. I didn’t recognize myself. And sometimes instead of simply wondering who I was, I wondered why I barely remembered anything before baby. No, baby didn’t wash everything away. But there is quite a stark contrast from the person you are before and after you have a child, even if that baby is only days old. Everything seems like a millions years ago. You any quite put your finger on it, but you know that now everything is different.

Those thoughts are all perfectly natural. The early weeks of motherhood are some of the hardest. The marathon midnight, 2 a.m., 3:37 a.m. and 6 a.m. feedings, the pre-baby clothes that don’t yet fit again and the maternity clothes that don’t fit either or even worse, that still fit too snugly (well, that’s just peachy) and the diapers that you becoming adept at changing in the dark while remembering to point your son’s wee-wee down so that he doesn’t shoot it out of the top of his Pampers and leak on his clothes….

Welcome to parenting. And you thought those last few weeks of pregnancy, swollen feet and all, were unwelcome. The best and most rewarding work you will ever do is parenting. It’s also the hardest.

And those few initial weeks into your journey, they are at times completely ridiculous. And what’s funny to me ( as if sleep deprivation is hilarious, right?) is that…now, I can’t really recall how awful it was. Certain instances I can remember, yes. But on a whole, I don’t remember it in all of its entirety. Only that it was ridiculously hard. And while I was in the throes of it all, boy, I definitely had myself convinced that I would never sleep, wear normal clothes, leave the house, do a jumping jack, be able to bend down and tie my shoe or blow dry my hair again.

The new-newborn months are tricky. But, I have some good news for you. It gets a bit easier as time goes on. People insisted that it did to me, and even though I wanted to poke those people’s eyes out at the time, I’m here to be a nag and tell you that they will.

If you’re still preparing for baby, I’m quite certain those last few paragraphs scared you. Try to stick this one out anyway and I’ll try to make it worthwhile. (No refunds)

Here are some reminders to help you realize that you will survive that pesky newborn stage:

Yes, you will...

You name it, you’ll do it again in no time – Sleep. Wear normal clothes again. Leave the house again. Have a social life again. Feel like even having a social life again. Feel like a normal person again. Be able to wear pants that aren’t elastic around the waist – whatever it is, you’ll do it again. It will take time, and unfortunately lots of energy. But one night, you’ll wake up and realize that the baby skipped a feeding. And you’ll panic and rush over to the side of the bassinet…and realize that your bundle of joy is still asleep and is doing just fine. And you will breathe a contented sigh of relief, but then all of a sudden say, “aw, MAN”  because you realize that you need to go and use the breast pump. But, trust me, it will happen. Some things will return to the pre-baby ‘glory’ that they were once in. Not like you were itching to go rock climbing again anyway, right?

Yes, you will sleep again.

I’m pointing this fun-fact out in an entirely different section because this is the most important part about those first few months of parenting. If you don’t believe me, just wait until you’re a few weeks deep in dirty diapers and bottles and let me know how you’re feeling. At a certain point, you’re going to hit a wall and the one thing you will want the most is sleep. You would use a rock as your pillow if you could just close your eyes for more than an hour at a time. Let me assure you that, yes, you will resume normal sleep activity as some point. Ok, I lied. Truth is, your days of having a large surplus of sleep are limited. But you will get to have relatively normal amounts of sleep again. And sooner than you think. Until then, go to sleep when baby sleeps. As long as you aren’t driving or operating heavy machinery.

So the doctor says this, but your friend Sally says that the moon is full today which means…

You’re gonna get a lot of advice (just ignore the fact that I’m trying to give you advice for a hot minute) but what you need to consider is if the advice you’re given jives with your own instinct (and is also medically sound.) I was lucky to have a handful of friends that were already moms, and my mother and mom-in law to bounce questions off of. But babies don’t necessarily go down an ordered list when hitting their milestones or with their needs and wants. They’ll do things when they’re ready to do them and your baby is going to do things differently from the next baby. And when in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask your pediatrician or trusted circle of wise moms and dads a question or two. But other than that, politely accept advice – even if you’re not planning on using it. Most people just want to help. Even if they are driving you nuts.

Just when you’re getting used to having no sleep, no space and no time to brush your hair…

It’s all going to change. Your baby will start sleeping more at night. They’ll fall into a much easier eating schedule. They’ll begin to enjoy some tummy-time or play time on an activity mat. And suddenly, you’re second fiddle for a hot second to the mirror toy thingie that someone gave to you as a gift at your shower. And these moments come sooner than you would think. You will simultaneously welcome them and yet mourn their arrival. From the moment you give birth, your baby is already growing and working on leaving you. Isn’t that sad? And while the first few weeks, months even, your body will be in survival  mode, don’t wish it all away. I was a mess those first few months. Sleep deprivation and hormones will do that to you. But it was also an extremely emotional time for many reasons. Which leads to my last point…

Embrace it.

The stretch marks (I mean it), the belly that isn’t flat anymore, the spit up all down your arm, the makeup-less face when you go to the grocery store. You will never, ever be as beautiful (your lady will never, ever be as beautiful) as you are right now. Yes, I know. I was a fuzzy headed monster trying to catch some Zz’s on our sofa while wearing my husbands plaid pajama bottoms. You might not feel like it, but you are. New mom glow isn’t just about how we appear physically, though. Take a look at your baby. Be proud of what your body just did, of what you and your significant other created. That’s right. The work you do now will be the most tiresome, but most worthwhile work you will ever do. And all that baby needs is you, brushed teeth or no brushed teeth.

 

So, you just had a baby. OK, well actually, nobody just HAS a baby. A baby doesn’t just appear, but you get the idea. Now, why are you sitting here reading this. GO TO SLEEP.