Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Manly: May 8, 2011

My husband is a delightful combination of qualities. He is masculine without being a macho bore. He is smart without being nerdy. He is sensitive but not neurotic. He is funny without being cruel. And he is always finding ways to make life better for our boys and me, whether he's putting my car in the garage when I forget at night or making sure the checks get written and the forms get signed so the kids can go bowling or diving or to the zoo or whatever their latest thing is.

He ain't perfect, but he's a whole lot closer to it than I'll ever be.

My husband is the best mother I know

    I crawled into bed with my 6-year-old recently to read him a story and rub his back before he drifted off to sleep.
    “I want Daddy to put me to bed,” he said.
    “Daddy’s busy,” I said. “Can’t I put you to bed?”
    He considered for a few seconds. “I guess so,” he sighed. “But I’m used to Daddy.”
    They’re both used to Daddy, my two boys. When they have bad dreams, when they have tummyaches, when stuff breaks and needs fixing, when they have a question about the speed of light or they need help finding their shoes. They want Daddy.
    It makes sense. Their dad is what the world’s fancy-talkers call their primary caregiver. He’s the one who puts in the time, energy and profound patience it takes to run the multi-venue event that is raising children.
    He’s been their primary caregiver for four years – since the boys were 7 and 2 – and their shift from reflexive chants of ‘Mommmymommymommy’ to ‘Daddydaddydaddy’ was gradual but is now officially complete.
    We didn’t plan for things to turn out quite like this, but the truth is my husband is an amazing mother. He has this empathy thing I don’t seem to have, and it just never runs out. He understands the boys and is genuinely, joyfully involved in their lives, whether he’s coaching baseball and golf or building them wooden toys in his shop or making marshmallow blow guns out of PVC pipe for them.
    He spends hours and hours at the pool with our sons in summers, throwing balls with them and teaching them to swim and dive. He makes their meals and folds their laundry and sticks Band-Aids on their scraped knees. He is, it turns out, really good at this.
    I keep stumbling across articles in the paper and online about the shift happening in families as women earn more college degrees, men bear the brunt of lay-offs and trouble finding reliable work and traditional roles shift.
    When I married and started a family 12 years ago, I didn’t really know anyone whose family looked like this. The family I grew up in certainly didn’t look like this. I mean, I knew plenty of families where both parents worked full time and the mother still did the huge majority of the domestic and child-related stuff (Hi Mom!), but this dad-as-mom thing is something else entirely.
    In our pretty diverse circle of friends, it’s not at all unusual for the moms to earn more, to work more and to be gone from home more than the dads. A lot of the dads have the flexible schedules, do the birthday party circuit, hang out at the park, run herd on the kids at the pool.
    I have to admit, I love the way things have turned out – despite the undeniable tug at my heart when my boys state plainly that they’d rather Daddy put them to bed. It’s a small price to pay for the loving, utterly idyllic upbringing my husband is giving our sons.
    Honestly, he’s better qualified for the job than I am. And he’s teaching them so much about what it really means to be a good man.
    Happy Mother’s Day, Jim. 


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