letting dad in
if you've ever referred to your husband watching the kids as "babysitting" read on
BY NICOLE POPE, JourneytoJosie.com
photo credit: © haveseen /Veer, © Nicole Pope /journeytojosie
For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a Mom. As a little girl, playing house was the only game I liked. In high school, I would forego nights out with friends to babysit. I spent my college years naming my future kids, collecting tiny blankets and ruffled outfits.
Becoming a Mom wasn’t as easy for me as I’d hoped. There were years we were sure it would happen any day, that plus sign on a stick. But it never did. So while it took a little longer and we went a route that was different than originally planned, the day my daughter pulled into my driveway in 2007, I felt like I was born. Here she was. And she was perfect. Everything I’d ever dreamed of.
At the time, I had just graduated from college and had recently landed my first real job. My husband on the other hand was a youth pastor at our church. His schedule was much more flexible than mine and without much thought to it, he became the main caretaker of our little miracle girl. Andrew took that baby everywhere with him. He’d plop her on his desk for meetings, strap on a baby carrier to go to the student’s football games, and never once complained about his sidekick.
When Josie turned two, we decided to switch life up a bit and Andrew and I totally changed places. He entered a demanding career path and I quit my job to be a full time stay at home mom. The next year we added another sweet babe to our family.
I took my role as Mom very seriously. I planned out their days, their outfits, their lives. I was used to my days being very scheduled and structured so that’s how I ran my new gig. I prided myself on not needing to ever, ever, ever ask for help from anyone. I secretly loved the accolades I got when I traveled to Florida for a two week Disney/Beach vacation by myself with the kids which required massive planning and balancing of playpens and carseats and strollers.
Over the next few years I did what a lot of moms do, I started to find my identity in caring for my kids. I became too proud to accept help. Who was I if not Josie and Gabe’s Mom? What did it say about me if I asked for time for myself? After waiting for these kids for so long, how could I pass any moments off to someone else? I felt that nobody could do things as well as I could when it came to my kids. Not even their Dad. Which I am so embarrassed to say now.
“It took me 7 years of Mothering to realize that there isn’t any need to monopolize on the control of my kid’s lives. Their Dad is more than capable of caring for these little lives.”
In this past year my life has once again gone through a major toss up. My son had open heart surgery and we decided to move across the country, which meant a few months of total solo parenting while Andrew set up shop in our new town. We put our formerly homeschooled kids in public school and I started a company. Andrew changed jobs and my brother died. All in the span of 9 months. I felt like I had been tossed out into the ocean and could see the sharks circling. I was drowning and I needed help. Then one morning I woke up and realized that it was me holding my head under water.
It took me 7 years of Mothering to realize that there isn’t any need to monopolize on the control of my kid’s lives. Their Dad is more than capable of caring for these little lives. Things don’t get done the exact way that I would do them, but that doesn’t make it any less (my kids would say it’s way more fun when Dad’s in charge).What he offers our kids is something that they very much need. And when I assume it’s my way or no way, I hurt all three of them.
This past weekend I had a very important, emotional family event 1200 miles from our house. I knew I didn’t want to take the kids with. I started to arrange childcare for the weekend, calling in favors and trying to bribe with lattes in exchange for sleepovers. Then my husband walked in and said, “I’ll just take the weekend off. It’ll be fun.”The fact that I hadn’t thought to ask him shows how far I have to go in letting go and letting him be the awesome Dad he is.
It’s been a week and the kids are still laughing about the memories they made (stinky sea lions and sleeping in the closet are the top giggle starters). I’m so glad for the Dad my husband is. It’s been so fun to see this new chapter of our family start. One where there is teamwork in parenting and an ebb and flow that adds a totally new dimension to our house.I thought I would lose myself if I let Andrew be more active in parenting. In reality, I’ve never felt more alive, never been happier. And neither have they.
If you’re like me and struggle with letting go & letting Dad do his thing, here are 5 easy ways to ease up. I can promise that this adventure is much better when everyone gets to be involved.
1. quit calling it babysitting
There’s this negative, work-ish connotation with the word babysitting. And when I am with them all day we don’t call it that so why should we when the roles are reversed? When I go out and Andrew stays home, he isn’t babysitting. He’s being a Dad. And he loves it!
2. leave your checklists in your pocket
I’m an avid list maker. I live and die by my daily to do list. But my husband does not. He is spontaneous and free spirited. So while I’m sure there are a few things I could tell him that I’d like to have get done, it just isn’t necessary.
3. make a list
If your guy wants to be more active but isn’t sure what that looks like, make a list of things that he could do. Andrew still works a crazy scheduled job, so a lot of the everyday stuff still is in my court, but there are a lot of things that he can do. He’s the best frozen yogurt getter and organizes some killer bike rides with the kids. Coaching sports teams, taking over bedtime stories, or epic cannonball competitions. What does he enjoy that can be done with the kids?
4. talk about it
When I finally admitted how overwhelmed I was, Andrew surprised me by saying he knew that but didn’t know how to help me. Many Dads are wanting to be involved but ladies, we can be intimidating. Once we talked about it we could each pinpoint ways to make our family run smooth while actually enjoying it.
5. open your eyes and watch them
One thing that totally changed my heart towards letting go of total control was watching Andrew with the kids. Seeing how goofy they are together, listening to them laugh until they cry (sometimes out of joy, sometimes not…) made my Mother Heart so happy. I never realized what I was keeping from them all until I saw it for myself.