I titled this post “Daddy did WHAT?” because recently I caught myself asking that to my two-year old!
No, I am not talking about Daddy doing anything abusive. I’m talking about the 101 crazy things that Daddy seems to do when left alone with the kids! Crazy things like:
– a tub of cottage cheese for dinner
– airplane games, upside down, by limbs
– a game of “circuits” with real electricity running through it
– telling my kindergartner to do the dishes
– talking about college (to a four year old)
– stacking up stools so a five year old can change the DVD in the VCR
It never ends! I used to think that only the grandparents would sabotage my kids’ ordered and moral existence, but now I found out that I have a bigger subverter in the midst! It never seems to amaze me how I can go out for a Mom’s date of some sort, come back, and bow my head at at least twice during the return-home report =)
If you do this too—and especially if you are a young mom with your first baby—I just write this post to you that this is what husbands do! They just don’t live in Mommyland. They will forget the bath (or leave them in there an hour), they will feed them whatever happens to be on hand even though they don’t like it or can’t chew it, they will forget diaper changes or other teddy bears for bedtime, they will give the baby an Oreo just to see what he does with it, put mayonnaise between bread and call it a sandwich, and generally turn the house upside down with silly games. Now not all Dads are ridiculous of course, but even my usually mild-mannered serious husband can make quite a wild party when I’m gone. It’s not that he means to make a wild party, it’s just what happens.
When we had just one young baby, it wasn’t so much a wild party as what he actually did or forgot to do… let the baby sleep on the floor, gave him two bottles in a row because he “seemed still hungry,” use a bottle nipple as a pacifier, etc etc. I’d come home and the house would usually be a disaster with every toy out somewhere, blankets, baby chairs, saucers, and the like strewn around. And the kinds of conversations he would have with the baby—and now our young children—were just so absurd as to make me roll my eyes. How can anyone under the age of 21 understand choosing a good career? Or having their own children? Now I see it as cute and part of the loving Dad routine. But I remember thinking, “if he treats my six-month old like this, how will he be talking to my five year old?” Now I know! It never ends.
Today, I am a veteran of six years when it comes to these stories. And I still smile when I hear what other young moms report their husbands doing (or not doing) while they’re gone. I hear a lot of stylistic similarities even though the dads’ personalities differ. And I am ashamed to admit to them that I was too rigid in those early days. I thought every silly thing Daddy did would ruin the good set-up I was trying to achieve, and every nap or bedtime routine he screwed up would mean re-teaching for me. But God works in mysterious ways and it turned out that a little “screwing up” made my kids normal and flexible. They weren’t dependent on my routine and props because they learned not everyone did it that way. They were better behaved because they found out Mommy and Daddy had slightly different rules, so they needed to watch themselves a little bit. (Daddy was more unpredictable). And they did learn, as they became preschoolers, how to adjust from Mommy’s way to Daddy’s way if I left home for a little bit—and then back to Mommy’s way when I got back.
So resist the temptation to scold Daddy for whatever routine-breaking or age-inappropriate thing he did with your babies =) He’s just not Mommy! And he wasn’t made to be. Roll your eyes if you must, but believe in your heart that it will work for your baby rather than against him, in the long run.