Last year, before my husband returned from an 8-month deployment, I stumbled up on the children’s book “Daddies Do It Different” by Alan Lawrence Sitomer and thought it would be a handy book to read to the kids. Essentially the premise is that Mommy does things one way and Daddy does it different. The book talks about breakfast time, grocery shopping, bath time, etc. and shows the difference on how each parent goes about each task. In the end, of course, the little girl knows when she’s tucked into bed that both parents love her to pieces.
Now, months after my husband returned from deployment, the book continues to be a good reminder, not only to the kids but to me as well! Being a stay-at-home mom and the adult that spends most of the day with our kids and our home often leads me to a mindset of “my way is the way”…. “the best way”… oh, who are we kidding, “the only way!” I have analyzed, organized, clothed, and scheduled our family and home to the optimal level of efficiency and happiness. No way could my husband have better ideas!
Oh. Wait. But Daddies do it different. Different does not actually mean “wrong,” “less effective” or “inferior” to Mommies and wives.
My thoughts for tonight are for all the wives and moms out there, who are proud and confident in their abilities to “keep house,” develop their marriage, or parent their children. Surely, deservedly, be proud; be confident; know that you are rocking your responsibilities…. but also let your husband do the same. Let him do things different. The difference might be in how he folds the towels, his idea of a romantic date night, how he puts the toilet paper on the holder (although, the paper should fold over the top, right?! Right.), how he dresses the kids, what he feeds them for lunch. Let Daddy do it different. Let your house/kids/pets experience and reflect some of him too.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally not saying that we should just throw our hands up and let the fellas run the show all the time… or not address things that totally annoy us. Maybe towels won’t fit in the closet neatly the way he folds them, or maybe your daughter has a school pictures and you really would prefer her to not wear her orange winter hat, My Little Pony t-shirt, and polka-dot leggings. In those cases, speak up. Give clear instructions on the what and why it’s important to you. In all cases, speak up if you have opinions… of course. Just maybe try not to squash his attempts; don’t harshly criticize… making him feel like a fool.
I’m fairly certain that there are many dads and husbands out there who have pretty much given up on doing anything with the home, marriage, and family, because every time they tried, they were told, “You did it different and that’s not okay. Next time, do it my way.” I, for one, would much rather have my husband actively participate in our family (even if he does things differently than I would) than a husband who won’t plan a date night and won’t confidently watch the kids while I take a girls’ weekend away for fear of me telling him, “That’s not good enough.”
During the past week we continued our family vacation from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park. We had a blast. The kids loved every minute of our hikes and boulder-ing and exploring. And guess who took the lead?! Daddy did! Dad was the one to say “Sure! Let’s go ahead and climb those giant boulders!” while I stood back wondering, “Is this safe? Are we supposed to be letting them off the path? Are these rocks just too big for them?” He took on these challenges and obstacles with the kids… he did it differently than I would have… and the kids knocked my socks off. They faced their fears; they bravely tried new things; and they conquered it all. Because Daddy did it different.