[Repost from August 2012]
I just spent two months with my husband home almost 24/7 as we enjoyed the gift of a sabbatical. I wondered before the sabbatical started if I would enjoy having Andy home all the time. I wasn’t sure if I would feel the need to explain my every move, would I feel the need to be cleaning or folding laundry every free second and the list goes on.
The truth is I did enjoy it! We are at a stage in life where our boys can be very demanding in what it requires to parent them. They are boys and they have a constant need to move and release energy, men are good at that! They are also at stages that require lots of attention, patience and reiteration. I have an amazing husband and my boys have one of the most involved and engaging fathers that I have seen, yet “being at home” was a constant emotional drain on him. My man who is usually very patient and compassionate with our boys lost his patience much sooner than I expected on many days. During the last week of his sabbatical he turned to me and said, “Imagine doing this by yourself all summer.” I kind of laughed to myself because as a stay at home mom, I am completely aware of what it would have been like to have been without his help all summer. He also said to me that he was glad he didn’t have to do it alone all summer.
As women, particularly those of us who are stay at home moms with young children, we have such a great desire for our husbands to feel and experience the weight of our days and what it is like to be home all the time with their children! My husband experienced this and it drained him. I love my husband and know that he is truly happy when he is operating in his giftedness and in his calling from the Lord. Being a stay at home dad is not his calling. I too am happiest and most fulfilled when I am doing what the Lord has called me to do – no matter how difficult it may be at the time. This summer, I was given the gift of seeing that doing my job does not make my husband happy or a better person or father. Likewise, I can’t nor do I want to do his job! This summer highlighted some of the true differences between men and women, husbands and wives, and fathers and mothers. I walked away at the end of our summer able to fully embrace our different roles and giftedness. I have made it a goal to not attack him when he walks in the door with how difficult of a day it has been or how his children made my life hard. Instead I want him to feel welcomed home to happy people, particularly a happy wife who is thankful for a husband who works hard, loves his work and comes home to me every evening.
This is where we as women honor our husbands. Webster’s defines honor as to regard or treat someone with admiration and respect. This concept has been lost in our society. Our children, both our daughters and sons need to see us honor their father. They need to see us respect and admire what he brings to the parenting journey. Fathers offer imagination, excitement and freedom that most women struggle to give but that our kids need to learn to function as adults. As mothers we want to keep our babies close and sweet and innocent, this is why we cry their first day of Kindergarten. I’ve yet to see a dad walk away from the first day of kindergarten wanting to rush back in and grab their baby! Men understand the proverbial pushing the baby bird out of the nest. Our children need that as much as they need our nurturing. We must embrace that God has created men and women with different strengths in the world of parenting. This is not about one of us being better at parenting than the other. This is about being who God created you to be and joining with your husband to parent the little people God has entrusted to your care. There is a reason children need mom and dad! We each offer something different to our children and they need the combination of mother and father.
We (as women and mothers) must stop trying to make parenting an equal 50/50 partnership. Yes, parenting is an equal partnership but we play incredibly unique roles. Allow your husband to flourish and be the absolute best at his role not at your role. Trying to make him understand your day will only frustrate both of you because he will not get it and he will be frustrated that you complain all the time. Instead be grateful you do have a partner in this thing called parenting, rely on the strengths that he, as a man brings to the table, trust his love for his children and marry your strengths and skills together. Be content in this stage of life because it is quickly passing.