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When Dad Took Over for Three Weeks

My husband works for a company based out of Hong Kong, half a world away from Los Angeles, which is where we, as a family, call home. He spends a lot of time away. In fact, he’s gone for two-thirds of the month. Having two kids ages 12 years and 20 months, you can guess that this situation is far from ideal. Not having any other family in L.A., my husband and I rely on each other to keep our show on the road.

So having my husband gone so much for the past six months has really required me to step up my parenting game, big time. In that time, I’ve been full-time working and caring for the kids, trying not to feel resentful about the fact that my husband, although he’s working hard, is also at “work” dinners every night, drinking copious amounts of wine, sleeping-in on the weekends and basically, living a kid-free life in an amazing city. I realize that he’s not doing anything wrong per se, but the nature of our set-up puts most of the parenting responsibility on me.

But a month ago, a fantastic opportunity came around for me — the chance to go to Singapore for work doing something I love for three weeks. My husband arranged to work from LA and care for the kids for the weeks I was gone.

We were switching places.

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As I jumped for the chance and committed right away, I worried like hell about my husband and my kids. It’s not that I thought my husband was incapable of handling it all. But, well, OK, I worried he wouldn’t be able to handle it all. I mean, he’d never been alone with the kids for consecutive days like this. And I know how freaking tired and overwhelmed I got in those three-week stints, so I imagined that his experience would be that compounded by the fact that he wasn’t used to the role. But as it turns out, he handled those three weeks like a champ. And it’s time I openly acknowledge his kick-ass parenting skills. Here are five things that happened when my husband took over full-time for three weeks.

1. My kids had a blast.

I honestly thought I’d be in tears watching my kids over Skype beg me to come home. I kept dreading that first call, thinking I would witness my 20-month-old’s heartbreak when I couldn’t reach through the screen and hold her. But that never happened. And it’s because my kids had nonstop fun with their dad. They loved their time with him. And my husband saw it as a real special opportunity and made the most of it. He took the kids to play in the waves and have walks along the beach, they had picnics at the park, and he took my son to the movies. My British husband even took the kids to a Fourth of July parade and drove up Mulholland to a lookout for fireworks later that night.

The Skype calls showed me a totally cool and collected husband who didn’t need my help as much as I thought he would. In fact, he didn’t really call on my "expertise" at all.

2. There was some serious bonding

Prior to these past three weeks, my kids, and particularly my toddler, were very attached to me, preferring me to their father. I’d love to attribute this to my parenting awesomeness, but this was purely due to the fact that they spend more time with me. So naturally, with mom being nowhere in sight and with them being cared for 100 percent by their father, my children and husband really bonded. My son loved having “dude” time with my husband, and my daughter not only stopped calling him “Peter,” but fell in total love with her daddy. You have no idea how wonderful it was in those first few days after being reunited again to hear my toddler call for “daddy” and not me in the middle of the night. My husband felt special, and I made sure I encouraged it with the, “Ohh, it’s so special how she cries out for you, how she prefers you now.”

3. My daughter is a little more British

While daddy had the kids to himself, he really laid on the “British.” My son, being 12, is too old to stray far from his American ways, but my daughter is still susceptible to being Anglofied. With me being out of the picture, my husband went full bore with it. She is now addicted to "Peppa Pig," can hum the tune to "Top Gear" and knows who Gordon Ramsey is. She also calls me “mummy,” which makes me do the “say what?!” face every time I hear it. One more week and she’d be requesting Marmite on her toast and loving Piers Morgan. Oh wait, nobody likes Piers Morgan.

4. I learned that I don’t know everything (that’s weird)

This one is hard to admit. Before leaving, I envisioned Skype calls with my husband daily if not twice a day, instructing him on things like how my daughter likes her apples cut and how to get her to let him wash her hair. But the Skype calls, which happened only once a day, showed me a totally cool and collected husband who didn’t need my help as much as I thought he would. In fact, he didn’t really call on my "expertise" at all.

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5. I love my husband more

I feel more connected to him because he understands and can appreciate my experience spending three weeks at a time alone with the kids. And when I talk to him about how it’s nearly impossible to keep the house clean or to ever feel rested, he can empathize, because he’s been there now. I’m also more attracted to him. It’s hot seeing a man fully committed to his family. His confidence as a father makes him even sexier than he was before. I love him for handling it all on his own without any complaints. And he did it all with pleasure, with a smile on his adorable face. And that makes me melt for all of them.

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