So the next time you see my husband pushing the stroller through the aisles of Target or changing our daughter’s diaper in the back of our SUV in the parking lot — please don’t tell me he is such a good helper, because I won’t agree.”
My husband is a great dad. But he is not a helper.
A helper is literally defined as, “a person who helps someone else.” Referring to someone as a helper, implies they are secondary and are providing assistance to another.
My husband is not secondary. He does not provide assistance.
I do not ask my husband to help out with our daughter. I do not ask him to “watch” or “babysit” her while I cook, clean, or leave the house. I do not ask him to change her diaper or get her ready for bed as if I am asking a favor of him. I do not ask him if he minds playing with her for awhile so I can have a mental break.
That would be absurd.
I may be a stay-at-home-mom, and being with my sweet girl day in and day out may be considered my full-time job, but it does not make me the “primary parent.” She is not more my responsibility than his. He is not there just to help out a little when I need it. In fact, his role as a dad has nothing to do with me whatsoever.
He is there to parent our daughter.
To provide for her, not only financially, but also emotionally. To bond and build a relationship with her. To make her feel loved, safe, and important. To do all of the same things I do when I am home with her during the day.
I can hear the naysayers already:
“But doesn’t he deserve a break? He worked all day and he must be so exhausted. You cannot expect him to come home and parent now, too.”
You are right. I can’t expect him to do that. But you know who can? Our daughter. And she does.
As soon as her daddy walks through the door, she is on all fours racing over to his feet as fast as she possibly can. She smiles, acknowledges he is in fact “dada,” and then reaches up for him to hold her.
She expects from him all of the same things she expects from me.
And he gives it. He scoops her up and carries her through the house as he settles in from work. He doesn’t look at me and tell me it’s been a long day and he “just can’t work anymore.” The moment he comes home, he is in full-on dad mode. Not out of obligation, not at my request, but because he is her parent. And he loves it.
If I happen to get a few moments of “me time” while he is being a dad, that’s a bonus. Because chances are, I haven’t peed in hours and my teeth probably haven’t even been brushed yet.
If he doesn’t want to spend Saturday golfing with you, it doesn’t have anything to do with me — and it doesn’t have anything to do with you, either.”
My husband works his hardest to be home for bathtime and bedtime every single night. He enjoys rocking our daughter to sleep, and he is sad on the nights that he misses out on it.
He has turned down dinner requests and happy hour invites several times simply because he does not want to miss out on being a parent. I wouldn’t be surprised if sometimes the invitor assumes my husband declines because I am expecting him to come home and relieve me of my duties. Like he is obligated to participate in bathtime. Like he is only rocking our daughter to sleep so I don’t have to.
I wouldn’t be surprised because these comments have been made.
“Can’t your wife handle a couple more hours?”
“There are stay-at-home moms who do bathtime and bedtime alone every night.”
“Man, is Samantha really not going to let you get away for a couple hours?”
They assume he is just a helper — my helper. They don’t mention anything about his role as a father. Our daughter is never mentioned in these comments. No one ever says things like:
“Does Joanna really need to spend time with her dad tonight?”
“There are kids who don’t even have dads to tuck them in at night.”
“Will Joanna really care if you are not there for bedtime?”
Because that would be rude.
I promise I am not chaining him to the kitchen table as soon as he is home from work. Nor am I begging him to say no to you.
If he doesn’t want to spend Saturday golfing with you, it doesn’t have anything to do with me — and it doesn’t have anything to do with you, either. I am sure he would love to spend time with you, especially if he hasn’t caught up with you in awhile. But, maybe he has only seen his daughter a few hours this week. Maybe he wants to take her to the park and swing with her for an hour or two. Maybe he wants to witness all the new things she learned this week while he was working tirelessly for us.
Maybe he wants to parent on Saturday.
So the next time you see my husband pushing the stroller through the aisles of Target or changing our daughter’s diaper in the back of our SUV in the parking lot — please don’t tell me he is such a good helper, because I won’t agree.
Tell me he is a great parent — now that I can get on board with.