Next week my youngest turns five months old. My husband has watched him a handful of times for an hour or two, but other than that, Reid has been my mini charge for all of his life. I manage all of the night time duties, bathe him, feed him, wear him, calm him … everything. It was much the same with my older two kids when they were babies. My husband was around and helpful in many aspects of our life but when it came to the kids, he just wasn’t hands on.
For a long time I resented my husband for his lack of involvement. Doesn’t he love them? Doesn’t he want to give me a break from consistently being the caregiver? Doesn’t he crave that baby smell? Doesn’t he want to know the joy of being nap trapped?
I know the answers and have since shelved my resentment. Of course he loves them, this guy loves his kids more than anything! And he often tells me that it's on the forefront of his mind to help me find balance in my life as a wife and mom. So, why not pitch in with the little ones?
It’s really quite simple. Honestly, it’s a wonder it took me three kids to figure it all out.
You see, babies just aren’t his thing. As in, he loves them, but cannot deal with them.
I personally think he’s great with babies and there's nothing hotter than seeing him rock a little one to sleep, man a disgusting diaper, or wear a fussy baby. But in those circumstances, he gets anxious and overwhelmed by their unspeakable needs.
And that’s OK.
Sometimes Mom steps in. Sometimes it's Dad's turn. Sometimes, neither of us know what to do and we fumble through it together
As parents we can’t be good at everything. We won’t all thrive in every season of parenting. That’s why we're in this parenting gig together. To tag team, fulfill our strengths and have someone to rely on when the going gets tough. We can’t all be in love with attending t-ball games. We can’t all sleep light to function sufficiently when kids are awake or in need during the midnight hours. We can’t all grocery shop with multiple children drawing our attention. We can’t all effectively discipline. We can’t all teach musical instruments. We can’t all set firm, loving boundaries for teenagers. We can’t all mend broken hearts when life doles out disappointment.
Sometimes Mom steps in. Sometimes it's Dad's turn. Sometimes, neither of us know what to do and we fumble through it together. Rising to the occasion with childcare doesn’t solely fall to one parent or the other. Often we flow through seasons where one parent takes the lead. And that's a good thing. It doesn’t mean that parent is parenting alone, it just means they’re forging the path while the other brings up the rear and supports them in other ways.
Right now, it’s my season with our youngest. He'll take a bottle but he prefers breastfeeding and I know his burp routine without thinking twice. I can pop him into the sling in a matter of seconds and go about the rest of my day. I own his nap time. That kid has no chance when I set the sleep mood and pat his bottom just so. We have a groove, and we’re doing just fine.
While I mother this little one, my husband has risen to the challenge of fostering meaningful relationships with our 3- and 5-year-old. And often at the same time, which, to me, is a much greater task than infant care. It’s like coaching and refereeing simultaneously! He golfs with them—something I would never endeavor, coordinates wrestling championships—so not my thing, helps my daughter read—talk about patience, and is constantly teaching my son to use his strength for good—if you think a baby needs frequent monitoring, try helping a 3-year- old translate his emotions without being too physical!
Bottom line, my husband doesn’t get babies and that’s OK. He invests what he can and I take over the rest. Under one isn’t his prime season and that's why we're in a partnership—to do this parenting thing together. I've got the babies, he's thriving with the preschoolers, and I know without a doubt that I'll be giving him a hefty dose of the teenage years!