I had dinner with friends on a school night, leaving the Tuesday evening chaos for my husband to handle. I came home to find homework done, and the girls showered and ready for bed. Classical music was playing on Pandora. I stood in the kitchen, not knowing whether to cry tears of joy or sadness. Joyful for the obvious reasons. Sad, because as much as I want a break now and then, for that brief moment in time I didn’t feel needed. In fact, I thought, “Wow, my husband is a better mom than I am.”
I’ve always known that my husband and I are a good parenting team. But at this stage of our lives, so much of my identity comes from being the crazy glue that keeps our lives running. I’m the scheduler of all doctor appointments, summer camps, babysitters, social events, after school activities, lessons, vacations – you get the picture. I’m the meal planner. I manage to keep the girls in clothes and shoes that fit. I keep us from running out of toilet paper and laundry detergent and sunscreen and art supplies. I buy the birthday and Christmas gifts. So naturally, I’ve come to think that without me pulling the puppet strings, our household would fall apart. The sheer magnitude of being me can be exhausting. And yet, there I stood like a voyeur in my own the kitchen, watching my family function just fine without me. OK, so it was just for a few hours. But still.
I took away several important reminders from that evening. First, my idea of romance has drastically changed. Taking care of everything at home so I could have an evening out with friends, now that’s romantic. Second, my husband is right when he encourages me to take more time for myself. He recognizes what I ignore. I need time to myself, whether it is dinner with a friend, a pedicure, or a cup of Starbucks and a solitary stroll through Target. This is not news, but with our perpetually busy schedules it is hard to fit in. I need to schedule “me” time like I schedule everything else and, most importantly, not feel guilty about it.
Finally, I was reminded that there are some things that dad does better than mom in our household. Instead of feeling inadequate, I should pat myself on the back for marrying such a great guy. Here’s a short list of things that randomly popped into my head that my husband does better than I do.
1. He does a better job preparing for the morning the night before. We are both believers that the morning goes much more smoothly if you prepare the night before. I believe this, but he actually does it. I am a morning person who gets exhausted at night and goes to bed instead of preparing for the next day. He makes sure backpacks are ready, shoes are located, uniforms are clean, and anything we need to take with us in the morning is next to the door the night before.
2. He actually checks the weather before we leave the house. I often tease that my husband was a meteorologist in a former life. For many years, his job has required spending part of his day outdoors, so checking the weather is part of his morning routine. Which is good. Because there have been days when the girls are dressed for school and I open the back door to leave, and I realize it’s in the low 50s and perhaps they should be wearing sweaters or jackets.
3. He lets the girls do things for themselves. Our daughters are 11 and perfectly capable of doing a lot of things around the house. I am very guilty of doing things for them because I want things done a certain way. My way. The right way. But how will they learn if I keep doing this? They make their own lunch and his when I’m not home. They put their own clothes away (well one daughter does, the other one tosses a ball of clothes into her closet). They vacuum and clean. Do they do a great job? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But they are learning, and I have to learn to let it go.
4. He keeps it simple. I am notorious for providing more information than is required in all situations. I have a very detail oriented job, so that’s my excuse. My husband is able to answer the girls’ questions in a way that does not cause their eyes to glaze over. Here’s an example. When they were about seven, they asked me if you can marry more than one person. I launched into a long conversation about divorce, making sure to assure them that mommy and daddy love each other so that they wouldn’t worry needlessly about us getting divorced, and then threw in all kinds of tidbits about love and the right person. I was exhausted but felt that I covered the topic completely. When I told my husband about the conversation and asked him what he would have said, he responded, “I would have just answered that you can only be married to one person at a time.”
5. He takes over when Mama Bear emerges. I have a pretty even-keeled disposition most of the time. But the Mama Bear inside me can take over if I think someone has wronged one of my children. That’s when I can become irrational. That’s when my husband steps in to defuse the situation. With his affable charm, he gets his point across without raising his voice or having his head spin around and his eyes bulge out of their sockets. Like possibly me.
So there you have it. I’ve learned that there is nothing more romantic than a man who loves and cares for his family. What does your husband do better than you?