The other morning I came downstairs to find my twin toddlers sitting on top of the table. They were using pieces of bacon as spoons to slurp left over cereal milk into their mouths. Of course, spilling all over themselves in the process. When dad takes care of the kids.
Their hair was a mess and their diapers were so wet they were practically sagging to the floor. When dad takes care of the kids.
The rest of the dirty breakfast dishes were still out and the high chairs were sticky with eggs and smears of jelly. When dad takes care of the kids.
My three-year-old was running around naked, and had obviously been working his way through all of his favorite activities, as evidenced by the puzzles, markers, coloring books, planes, and the Legos that were strewn all over the house. When dad takes care of the kids.
My three-month-old baby was still in his sleep sack, kicking on the floor, and he smelled. When dad takes care of the kids.
To put it plainly, I had entered a disaster zone. The main reason?
Dad was in charge.
Things sometimes look a little different when Dad’s in charge, don’t they? Onesies might be put on backwards, stripes and polka-dots are deemed complimentary, bibs are optional, and feeding is stress-free. In other words, details are just details.
When I leave my kids with my husband and return to find any or all of the above happening, my first reaction is to sigh. Sure, he may have offered to let me sleep in, take a break, or get some other work done. But was it really worth it if I feel like I have to play catch up when I get back? If I had just stuck around the whole time, I wouldn’t have let it get out of hand. I would have maintained some sort of control.
What I’m really saying is, I would have micromanaged him.
Ew. I don’t want to be that wife. Not really, anyway. So then why do I find myself wanting to ask him why diapers haven’t been changed, why clothes haven’t been put on, and why hasn’t he at least put the dirty dishes in the sink? Why do I wish he’d do it my way?
I like how I do things. I like that I have a system that works well when I’m in charge. I’ve worked hard and learned through trial and error the best ways to keep the ship from sinking. So in my heart, I want my husband to do it like I do because I think my way is best for the kids.
But when Dad’s in charge of taking care of the kids, I’m learning that my way is NOT necessarily the best way. I’m not saying we don’t need to have consistency in certain areas because we absolutely do, but sometimes I need to “let the details just be details.” I need to be okay with the way he loads them into the car, what he offers for snack time, or how he chooses to forget about the mess. I need to let dad be dad, and not try to make him be mom.
The truth is, he tends to play with and challenge the kids more than I do. He has this amazing ability to enjoy the moment without feeling the pressure of needing to get the dishes washed or the laundry folded. Sometimes that annoys me, but in reality, it’s such a gift that I can let him give to our kids. And it’s not that he doesn’t intend to clean up the mess, he just doesn’t feel the need to do it while the kids want to play with him.
The things that drive me nuts don’t phase them at all. All they know is that Dad is giving them his undivided attention.
At the end of the day, I’m pretty lucky to have a man like him by my side in this whole parenthood thing. In huge part, we fell in love because I knew he’d be an incredible dad someday. Now that we’re in someday, I need to trust him. I want to trust him. The more I encourage instead of question, the more he’ll continue to step up and be the best dad for our kids. Because when Dad’s in charge, my kids are laughing. They’re engaged. They’re having a blast. And, they’re deeply loved.
Original post was published January 2015