I have to say, I feel pretty loved by my little man. He is excited to see me at the end of a day away; he tells me he loves me and he misses me. I get plenty of cuddles and kisses. But at the end of the day there is always someone he is more excited to see, and I am thrilled about it. The one person who beats mommy any day is Daddy. In our home Daddy is not a sideline parent. He is down in the trenches with Mommy, and I rarely feel alone in parenting. Daddy’s dedication and desire to be there right by my side has led to the most beautiful relationship between my boys. I am the first to say I could never be the mother I am without my husband being there as the father he is. His support, and desire to be present in our son’s life is undeniably the reason I am able to grow as a mother. I am inspired to be a better mother by his parenting every day.
The role of stay at home mom has been something that has been discussed at length in our home. Partially because I was very concerned about not feeling appreciated doing the domestic work; but also partially because my husband and I had always both worked before our son, so me staying home was a change for both of us. Even before Karson got here we were discussing what our home would look like, and what our responsibilities would be. I knew from the start I could never be a stay at home mom who was responsible for all things domestic, while my husband came and went from work. I hated the idea of being ships passing in the night. It was important to both of us that we BOTH stay engaged in the same world at home; that we approached life side by side. I needed to feel like he was on my team as a parent-and he wanted to feel like he was an involved parent. It was important for us both to be present in our new family unit.
My husband had the chance to show me what he was made of as a father immediately after coming home from the hospital with our son. Karson, our son, was a marathon nurser, I was fighting Post-Partum Depression, and I would find myself occupied all day just feeding, pumping, and changing diapers. My days began to feel longer, and shorter at the same time. Anyone who has struggle with PPD knows this feeling. My husband would come home from work to me, sometimes sitting exactly where he left me that morning, no effort to make dinner, no effort to get dressed. Most days I hadn’t even gotten off the couch to turn on the lights when my husbands walked in the door. I’d stopped showering and I was feeling the weight of motherhood recovering after a traumatic birth. Instead of getting frustrated, or accusing me of not doing enough, my husband made the simple decision to stand by my side. He helped me wade through the immense weight I was feeling on my shoulders, and saw my beauty through the fog.
He started coming home during his lunch break to make sure I was fed-he never complained that he skipped his own lunch to bring me mine. When he got home at the end of a long workday he took Karson for hours and let me sleep. Never asking or questioning if this was what I needed-he knew. He didn’t tell me until months later that Karson often cried for hours while he calmly rocked him-he waited for me get up on my own rather than wake me. He never once made me feel like I wasn’t enough, and constantly encouraged me. These simple choices changed my world and brought me through the darkness. He saw me struggling to hold the weight of motherhood and happily took some of the load.
His choice to lift me up and hold the weight I couldn't, set the tone for our relationship as parents-and consequently his relationship with our son. My husband has stepped up every day since our son was born-long past the moment I got back on my feet. Karson sees every day that Daddy is just as good as Mommy at getting snacks, or changing diapers, or giving baths. There have been a lot of moments where I have had to fight the urge to step in and ‘show him how Mommy does things’-but stepping back and letting the two of them create their own routines is has become the biggest blessing. Its the little things that make the biggest difference in the life of a mom, and the life of a toddler. Creating a relationship with a toddler is all about putting in time with them to build trust-my husband gets this. He has cultivated a relationship of his own with our son, and earned my trust as a partner.
Even now the pressure of being a stay at home mom can feel suffocating. Unless you've been in the shoes of a mom at home with her teething toddler, for 12 hours straight; or the mom who gets puked on in the parking lot before an important meeting-you have no idea how hard the job of being mom can be. The thing that saved me, especially when he was a baby-and the advice I continue to give to ALL the stay at home moms I know is, LEAVE. When dad gets home from work grab your jacket, slip some shoes on, get in your car and drive away. I usually drive to the nearest Target, grab some Starbucks and cruise the dollar section blissfully unaware of what is going down at home. Give yourself permission to take a moment for YOU, whatever that looks like for you. Let your husband and the kids figure out what to do without Mom together! They’ll make it work.
These are the times that have led to Karson asking for bedtime with Daddy because he prefers the way Daddy does things, and Mommy getting every Saturday morning to herself. I hate that Karson is always more excited to see Daddy when he walks in the door than Mommy. I also hate the tears he cries because he misses Daddy during the day. But I love that he feels so connected to Daddy he doesn't mind when Mommy takes some time for herself. I adore the fact that my husband is so present as a father, Karson notices he's gone at work. No way of parenting is perfect, every relationship is different but I challenge you, no matter where you are on your parenting journey to take time to appreciate each other-value both your time. You never know what small action you take could shift your partner’s world. ITS THE LITTLE THINGS THAT MAKE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE.