Sharing the Load
There is a terrific article in the New York Times this Sunday (available online already) called "When Mom and Dad Share it All." It talks about the division of labor in a family and how great it can be when it’s more equally divided. One way I look at this is that when both people are fully engaged, the benefits that BOTH receive are magnified- it’s not just about "easing" the burden on moms. I differ in my thinking from a lot of the talk in the article about "50/50 this, 60/40 that, blah, blah, blah" and think about it the way a counselor and friend of mine taught me many years ago. She said that relationships are NOT about adding up to 100%, rather they are about both people GIVING 100% (or maybe even 110%)- otherwise you end up nickel and diming each other to death. This was a watershed realization for me and something that I have carried into my work, relationships, and now parenting. Nevertheless, a lot of article resonated with me and I saw nooks and crannies of our life reflected in the stories.
Lucky is as Lucky does
So, I don’t believe in luck particularly, I’m much more of the "you make your own luck" type, but I still can’t keep from describing myself as insanely lucky when it comes to having a spouse, partner, and father to our girls like Tony. But we got there through working at it and being thoughtful about the choices we make. Tony was fortunate to be able to take a lot of time off when the girls where born, but more importantly, he *chose* to take it. I still know a lot of folks who don’t take full advantage of their parental leave options at MS. I think it’s a real missed opportunity. He’s been making great choices like that all along- diving in when he could have stepped back, trying a new thing when he could have accepted the established routine, asking questions when he could have just nodded.
Now, nearly 9 months in, he is a rockstar dad. Not only is he as capable as me of taking care of the girls, he’s as enthusiastic and engaged. Sure, we do some things differently. There have been times where I have had to bite my tongue when I might want to "correct" (cough, cough) what he’s doing. What I’ve found is that I learn from him as much as he does from me. And you know what, discovering that you are not the ultimate source of knowledge for the safe rearing of your kids is not a bummer- it’s liberating!
See ya later!
Having every confidence and a huge amount of respect for Tony’s parenting skills lets me relax not only in my role as a parent, but lets me head out and enjoy an afternoon off on the weekend without a second thought. It is rejuvenating to turn the volume down on that part of the brain for a little while- then when I get back I want to totally crank it like a favorite song. What a gift for the both of us and for our girls.
Yesterday, our daycare gave Tony a cute Father’s Day card from each of the girls and it had some corny poem about "walking in daddy’s footsteps"- and I know they will. I hope they will take some of his steps, a few of mine, lots from other caregivers, friends, and family, and then make up a dance or path or trail all their own. And the nice thing about the parents we are trying to be, is that rather than feeling like I am carrying the family, or even that we are carrying the girls, it’s like the four of us have joined hands and are tripping together down the yellow brick road together.
"We’re off to see the world, the wonderful world around us
Because, because, because, because
because of the wonderful things it holds!"
(forgive how I butchered the melody…)
Happy Father’s Day
I was so interested in my feelings on Mother’s Day this year, because I felt like, "I don’t need appreciation for what I do (though breakfast in bed is nice) because I love it so much and feel honored and lucky (oops, there it is again) to be joined in life to Audrey and Sofia. Now it is Father’s Day and if there were Oscars or Grammy’s or Nobel Peace Prizes that could be given out- Tony would get one. But I don’t think he’d care about it (and maybe would request pancakes instead) because the rewards he has already received from the girls and the personal satisfaction of being a great dad have been paying dividends from the beginning.
So, it’s corny- but here goes: "I love you Tony and I’m so proud of the Dad you are. Happy Father’s day!"