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Mommy down and out! Need quick replacement, in jumps General Papa and takes over.
Recently I managed to fracture my foot. Never a sprain in my life, but who believes in the small things, we go for the big stuff. And what better timing in life! Why fracture my foot during my single days, better to do so when I have 2 monkeys jumping around?!
Naturally I could do precious little and while its otherwise a very joyous experience to play and look after children, doing so 100% of the time and being the only caregiver, kinda took the fun out of parenting and added oodles of stress for hubby. Sitting on the sidelines, I watched the show helplessly, sometimes exasperated myself and sometimes with a smile while seeing how things unfolded differently when papa took over.
Before reinforcements (Read: Mother in law and mom) could be brought in, hubby kept the flag flying high for a couple of days. Peanut & Buttercup took some time to come to terms with mom wobbling around. 20 minutes later they realized – whoa dad’s in charge, mom literally cant run behind them and the fun began. It became a family outing when we went to get my crutches. Peanut loved the wheelchair ride with me and much to the annoyance of the hospital staff refused to get off my lap. So mother –son duo were carted around together. Much easier than trying to rationalize with a 4 year old! Buttercup was only too happy to be in her father’s arms and watch the fun from higher ground.
Now a regular day is bad enough with one partner down, imagine adding school to that equation. The next morning was well –mayhem! The kids were up early as usual and that’s where the ‘usual’ stopped. All of a sudden, Peanut & Buttercup didn’t want to brush their teeth. Buttercup darling, come brush your teeth – make them pearly white. Peanut look Buttercup has taken a step towards the bathroom – maybe you should try that! Somehow their teeth were brushed and now came the point of dressing them up. All went ok here (who cares if Peanut wore a green shirt and orange pants – the bright kind of shades and Buttercup wore a heavy printed top with an equally heavily printed skirt – atleast they wore dressed), till it came to combing goldilock’s hair. Coming from a family with poker straight hair – this one really stumps us – EVERY SINGLE TIME we attempt to brush Buttercup’s hair. Its like her curls decide the mood for the day for all of us. Being the awesome dad that hubby is, he attempted a gentle brush through her hair, got the brush stuck in her hair, almost pulled out most of her hair and then finally just bundled up her hair with a scrunch and well.. she was ready. And that is how she went out of the house everyday till reinforcements came. The curls won, yet again.
What made it even more interesting is the children thoroughly enjoyed the change of guards. Getting stereotypical here but when father takes over, it does seem more fun. Suddenly the focus shifts from getting stressed about the little things like clothes are not matching, hair is not brushed to perfection, face has a few spots of cream etc… to enjoying the whole process. Yes, hubby was stressed and only glad to hand over the reins to his mom but the way he handled the whole situation had loads of excitement in it and truckloads of patience. There was a song and dance to almost all activities, lots of rough housing and then just brushing themselves up and heading out of the house without a care in the world.
Seeing my husband take on the roll of the primary caregiver, reminded me of a book my sister had presented me - Lean In by COO of facebook – Sheryl Sandberg. Specifically it reminded me of the term ‘maternal gatekeeping’ which ‘is a fancy term for “oh my God, that’s not the way you do it! Just move aside and let me’ and just like that ‘so many women inadvertently discourage their husbands from doing their share by being too controlling or critical.’ How often had I indulged in this behavior and then only to complain that I’m not getting support? (Most) dads are more than capable of handling their babies without the mommies interfering. Yes their style of parenting is different, more carefree, maybe a meal is only a chocolate pastry or the diaper is put all wrong but last I heard that never hurt anybody!!!!
So this one is for the caring, loving and patient father that my husband is; for the supportive and true partner that my husband is. Thank you. Here’s to all the ‘real partners’. Thank you for stepping in and leaning in towards your families.