In those first few months of parenthood neither of us knowing what we were doing. Our ideas and ideals were soon after assaulted by stark realities . . . remember vowing that an Exersaucer would never replace a coffee table? Swearing that you’d never talk about your child’s poo over a romantic dinner? Insisting that your children will never be placated by the television? Yep. Those ideals.
We were learning from each other. Our mid-day phone calls were no longer about the new hot spot where we needed to make dinner reservations, but about discussing projectile vomit and the number of hours a small baby could possibly scream at the top of their lungs before I would need to be committed. As the years pass we’re still learning from each other and while the themes of these calls have changed the message remains the same: we are a team that depends on each other to be good parents to our three boys.
In a moment of calm last week, I was catching up on my reading while trying to think up the perfect Father’s Day for my husband (it was a BBQ cover in case you’re curious) when I came across Alyson Schafer’s short list of what dads really want for Father’s Day.
A shocker to no one, I am sure, sex topped the list (I really thought it would be the BBQ cover!) but as I continued it was the last thing on the list that really struck me:
Downtime – Dads know how to do self-care. It is not them being lazy. Dads have no guilt hitting the golf course, or watching the game on Sunday afternoon. Moms should watch and learn from their good role modeling instead of berating them about it. Pull up a chair and join dad while he relaxes, or ask dad to reciprocate in kindness by watching the kids while their partner gets a pedicure or something else they enjoy.
Bingo! I had been wavering about what to write for this week’s post. I had chosen the theme and yet here I was, stuck.
I could have easily written about how he’s the fun parent, how he can spend hours playing Sorry! without stressing about everything that’s not getting done, or how he makes up nonsensical bedtime stories that the boys beg to hear over and over.
Every minute of my husband’s time is accounted for: work, kids, us and him. He has no qualms about booking in a squash game even though there’s the laundry! The groceries! The over-due library books!
How can he sit on the couch, and actually drift off to sleep, on a Sunday afternoon? Doesn’t he know that we have to re-organize the linen closet? Sort the Playmobil from the Lego? De-clutter the craft cupboard?
He can and he does. And taking time for myself is something that I have learned from him over the years. He is always encouraging me to take that course! Learn that sport! Go away with friends! Read that book!
While we were both navigating the new waters of parenthood, we learned how to pin down a child and clip their nails together but somewhere along the way I became skilled at organizing our life into bins and he mastered guilt-free downtime.
Knowing where the hats are will always be important to me, but engaging in self-care is proving to be more beneficial to the wellbeing of our family, my marriage and me.