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March 16, 2009

Husband, Parent or Babysitter?

-15 Recently a trend has emerged in some families that seems to be stealing away precious chatting time with my girlfriends. We can't seem to stop talking about this problem. The majority of my friends stay at home full time, a decision that was made unique to each family. We are happy to represent the modern day home executives, taking motherhood to a new level. For the most part after a few years in the routine, the enormous responsibility of keeping a household running becomes second nature. Although on a rare occasion I've given a passing thought to creating a list of everything I do to contribute to my family to help keep it running smoothly, but I have refrained. I fear seeing the list in black and white, believing the actual sight of it would put me over the edge. Instead, I try to remain cognizant of the fact that I have chosen to be with my girls and that this moment in their lives is fleeting. 

So what has been nagging my daytime telephone therapy sessions with my girlfriends?

The notion that our husbands or better known as the father of our children, babysit. I am speaking about women that I know living with their husband who is the father of their children, not any other family circumstance. Let me clarify that in my home when I have a commitment, my husband does not babysit our children, he parents them. I have never made a list of our daughters' schedule, framing out minute by minute what my husband should be doing with them. I don't prepare meals in advance and have them waiting in the oven, so he doesn't need to be challenged to cook and parent at the same time. I don't leave a function early so I can run home to bathe my children and put them to bed, my husband does this all by himself. Isn't that impressive? My husband is just as involved in caring for our children as I am. Obviously with him working full time, which includes traveling, I spend more time with our girls during the week. When I have Graduate School or a commitment, it's all him. When I need a break, it's all him. But when the weekend arrives, it's all us. 

We share parenting responsibilities. 

Really what is all the hype? It's hard to continually bite my tongue knowing some women that will not let go of control of parenting, even if it's to the father of their children. Grown women that will not leave their children for more than a few hours because they worry about what their husbands are doing. I nursed my girls until they were two, so I am not judging a nursing mother who needs to get home to feed their child. It's mothers that have scheduled close to every minute, snack time, pajamas, craft time, park for one hour, on and on all while they are out for a few hours. I couldn't take the pressure personally. Aren't those overbearing steps the same way you would treat a babysitter? But is your spouse, the father of your children, a babysitter?

Please don't get me wrong I am not pointing a wagging finger here, I am just trying to open some eyes. Shed some light on the situation. Let your partner take some risks parenting. I do everyday. I wasn't handed the perfect parent manual when I gave birth. I take things one day at a time and sometimes I regret decisions, but most of the time I learn from my mistakes. Let's admit part of parenting is living in the moment, which you can't plan for. Our husbands have qualities to share with our children that are just as essential to their development as what we do mothering them. 

Now I must say, if my husband wants to plan our weekdays and have the meal in the oven so I don't need to cook, I am all for it! Schedule away, darling. But more seriously, if you're a woman that has a hard time letting your husband parent your children in your absence, take baby steps in letting go of control. It's not going to happen overnight, but you deserve the break. Every mother deserves a night out, a day of lunching, shopping, visiting a bookstore, hiking, working out, taking a class, or finding something that makes you happy. Allow your personal batteries a chance to recharge, it may come as a surprise how much better you can parent when you've let go and fed your own soul. 

This is an original post for Rocky Mountain Moms Blog. Denise writes about trying to live a simpler life with two curious daughters and a husband that travels the world chasing snow, over at her personal blog, Eat Play Love. Stop by you might just leave with a smile. 


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