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written by traceyh | 8581 Views | 6 Comments | Rating: (4 rates)

 

In the months before I returned to work, I nervously wondered how I was going to “do it all.”  My husband was very hands-on with our son from the start: changing diapers, rocking him during the 6-9 pm “danger zone,” taking him for walks in the stroller.   But because I was home for the first 11 months, I felt that I should handle the majority of his care.

 

Now I was working full-time.

 

Out of necessity, I slowly turned over responsibilities to my husband: dressing our son in the morning, bathing him at night.  Then, my husband learned to fix our son’s meals and would watch him while I ran errands. Now, he could parent him independently if I needed to go away.

 

Before you start thinking that I married the ultimate man, emailing to ask if he has a brother, and pulling your own spouse to the computer to show him what another father out there is doing, read on.


This freedom comes at a price. I am no longer the expert on our son. I am just another adult in the house with an opinion. And we all know what they say about opinions.

 

In order to gain rest and some “free” time, I have given up some control. That means that there are times when my husband talks to me like I (ouch!) know I used to talk to him…

 

“What are you doing?” he says in a most accusatory tone.

“Giving our son a bath?” I reply sarcastically.

“You don’t do it that way,” he says confidently.

“What way?” I challenge.

“Even he knows (low blow-referring to a 15-month-old) that you have to take the plug out of the tub before you give him the final rinse.  And you don’t use that (white bucket), you use this (purple bucket).  Here, I’ll do it.”

 

Mommy backs off for professional rinsing demonstration.  Father expertly rinses son, who is happily sitting in a giant, inflatable yellow duck, plug pulled.

 

Come to find out, I also do not know how to pick the most comfortable pair of pajamas relative to the ambient temperature, nor do I know that our son has to say “Night, night.” to the dogs next door after he brushes his teeth, not before.

 

Even as I asked my husband to read this article before submission, he was pulling rank on me. I turned the computer over to him and he handed me a spatula and told me I “might want to flip the egg” he had in the pan and then it would be “good to put one in for the baby.”

 

Who taught him these annoying communication skills? I thought I was the one who gave orders disguised as “sweet suggestions.” There was a time when I could barely get a grunt out of him.

 

So, my world has changed.  Now, when I have the urge to micromanage, I remind myself that my husband is a competent parent and can do things his own way. (Repeat ten times while biting tongue, if necessary.)  After all, I wanted him to share the responsibilities with me, so I have to accept that he is going to make some changes, even if they are wrong. Oops-that just slipped out-like water draining from a giant, yellow duck…

 

But here’s the thing:  I like my new role. It was a lot of pressure to be the “go to” person for every issue. I’m still Mommy and I always will be. When my son is hurt, he wants me to comfort him (yesss!).  But now, my husband knows as much about how to care for him as I do. It’s wonderful watching his twist on daily routines. He adds that funny and exciting “Dad element” that I didn’t always bring (like the two of them wearing diapers on their heads at changing time, for instance).  Now, that’s just something I wouldn’t have thought of. And as for our son?  He’s thriving under the loving care of both of his parents.

 

We make a great team. And I think we are all better for it.

 

Tracey Hazlett is a Reading Teacher at a local school district. Her husband works in the ski industry as a Racing Programs Director. They live in the Hudson Valley with their 15-month-old son, who is at-large and in-charge.

Comments: (6 Comments , 0 are new)

I am going through the same challenges.  I have to bite my tongue all the time, but when i take a look from afar, my daughter is truly happy with her "other" parents routine, and that's all that really matters.

peace,

ellen
1 Re: Mommy Goes Back to Work, Daddy Steps Up written by Lnkpitt on 06/20/07, 11:29 AM
Great article!  Daddy stayed home for a short time w/the kids.  He found it very difficult.  At least he understand now what I went through for 4 years!
Jen Puleo
2 Re: Mommy Goes Back to Work, Daddy Steps Up written by Jen P on 06/22/07, 01:58 PM
That was such a great article.  I think I will print this out and come back to it periodically.  I need to be reminded that it's not easy being a control freak and that my husband also needs to enjoy all the wonderful (and not so wonderful) aspects of raising our child.  It made me chuckle.
3 Re: Mommy Goes Back to Work, Daddy Steps Up written by danimuniz on 07/11/07, 02:40 PM
My husband is a professor and had very few duties during spring term when our baby was born and none in the summer following.
He spends his days ensconced in our daughter's life, and I love the freedom and 50/50 split we have right now. The only problem
is that he will be going back to work full-time this fall and I will be stuck with the kid (that sounds so terrible) all the time. Don't
get me wrong, I think that it is great that he got to bond with her so well and I am so appreciative of the help that none of my
friends ever got, but he got me all strung out on his ability to take care of our daughter and he's going to go to work and I'll have
to go, cold-turkey into this stay-at-home Mom thing. Darn him. Oh well, next summer I'm taking a vacation all by myself and he
and bebe can stay home and have a right love-in.
4 Re: Mommy Goes Back to Work, Daddy Steps Up written by Landbaby on 07/28/07, 04:12 AM
Your article was awesome!  I really enjoyed reading it.
I have two boys, ages 3 and 2.  Since my oldest was born, my husband has done "Daddy Day Care" as he calls it.  He is a paramedic, so he works three over night shifts a week.  I work days mostly, so the balance is just great for us.
There are routines that my husband has with the boys during the day and I have my own routines come bedtime.  I must say that I consider myself extremely lucky to have a man like my husband.
5 Re: Mommy Goes Back to Work, Daddy Steps Up written by pokermommy on 09/11/07, 09:47 PM
thank you soo much for this! i am going through this transistion currently and you wrote it out beautifully and with great levity
6 Re: Mommy Goes Back to Work, Daddy Steps Up written by eamon&nora'smom on 10/05/07, 03:41 AM
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