When He Talks, I Listen: How We Can Learn from the Dads

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When I fell in love with my husband, he was a 6’3″ fraternity boy with a worldly view, laidback attitude, and a sense of calm I had never experienced. I remember thinking I could get lost in his crystal blue eyes and swim forever in them. He seemed like a level of cool that I’d never be able to reach. I continuously watched in awe as “someone like him” truly embraced me as I was, which was a wave of comfort and relief. 

As we grew older, though, life happened – as expected. However, with every hurdle or curveball, I grew to know my husband a little better, and although he no longer fit the mold I had once placed him in during our collegiate golden years, I loved him all the same, if not even more. While I don’t think the level of “coolness” remained the same, his character stayed true. I became less impressed with his use of chopsticks and collection of vinyl records and more impressed with things like his knowledge of world events (while still knowing every current NFL standing) and appreciation for a quality Friday night spent at home.

The other night, as I had succumbed to an early bedtime thanks to pregnancy nausea, I overheard my husband putting our toddler to bed. The young guy I was infatuated with back in the day is now a grown man who spends his evenings rehearsing the Frozen soundtrack while using a baby blanket for a cape. To me, though, this is actually just the start of his coolness. Who would have thought? After several renditions of “Let It Go,” where he and my daughter alternated respectfully who was pretending to be Elsa, my husband metaphorically tackled the ever-so-expected, yet “perfectly” timed, request for water and additional snack right before story-time. I listened, impressed by his flawless response and graceful verbal execution that guided my daughter to our ultimate goal – her crib for the evening. 

At that moment, I thought about just how much I could learn from my husband in the world of parenting. Now, this was not a first-time, mind-blowing realization about my husband, as he’s always been an amazing father, but rather, I began to realize just how much society overlooks the ability of our partners to be leaders in parenthood. 

Think of the Phil Dunphys, the Peter Griffins, the Al Bundys -even Danny Tanner had his imperfect moments of mayhem in Full House. Imagine a Cheaper By the Dozen scene where mom leaves momentarily and, suddenly, all havoc ensues. Diapers on heads, fires in the kitchen, the baby grabbing kibble from the dog bowl – the whole picture. Even beyond TV and movies, social media graces us with clips of fathers innocently asking mothers why their Christmas stocking is not filled or jokes about dads taking documentary-length bathroom breaks. The list goes on and on… While these are all meant to be made in good fun, and most of these fathers are lovably chaotic, the point is that they are clueless and out-of-touch regarding the ins and outs of raising a child.

I am not saying that what mothers do is easily duplicated. No, not in the slightest. However, I think we need to give our men, our husbands, and our children’s fathers more credit in the childcare department. Does my husband always parent our daughter the same way I would? No, of course not, but that does not take away from his effectiveness. Furthermore, there are times when I can learn from how he handles situations with which I tend to struggle with occasionally. 

Despite what society tells me, I can (and do) trust my husband with parenting. 

If I step out for a moment, I know that our house will not crumble, nor will our dog and daughter end up coated in a mysterious layer of cooking flour or any other ridiculous scenario society may lead me to believe. While I may not have had parenting in mind when I initially fell for my husband (although he did a fantastic job taking care of me after a couple of rough nights at the local Thirsty Thursdays), I certainly feel fortunate for his skills. Similarly, I grant him the same grace and patience I expect as a mother when navigating this new chapter of our life because, in the end, we’re both doing the best we can to love and care for our daughter. 

All in all, though, next time I hear him raising our daughter in the other, I’ll listen carefully and intently. Most importantly, though, I’m sure I’ll learn something, and I won’t be surprised by that, either. 

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