Dad here on a Mommy Monday. Shout out to all Moms in the fight.
I received a great compliment from an older lady at church today. “You can tell you are a great father and very engaged with your family because the babies don’t just run to mom when something is wrong.” Man… thanks babies for making me look good!
I spent two weeks as a stay-at-home dad when we had our fifth baby. I was trying to do what Johnna does on a daily basis, just without the aptitude, grace, and sufficiency. Nonetheless, that time really gave me great opportunities to bond with the babies. I cooked all the meals, did all the laundry, changed all the diapers, and bathed everyone daily. It is funny that I expect sympathy from you for something that Johnna does pregnant, sick, and 364 days a year. I think that is partly why I work so hard at work, so I don’t walk in the door to hear Johnna say, “So what have you been doing all day?”
As I try to reflect back on that time, I want to offer three tips to guys in relating to your wives. A couple of notes ‘From My Experience…’
Tip 1: Go home and go to work in a way that your wife receives love.
I came home a few weeks ago and walked in the door and it looked like Lord of the Flies. No adult supervision was insight, our oldest had the conch, and someone was about to be voted off the island. With five kids, this can happen in about two seconds, especially surrounding meal times. ‘From my experience…’ dinner time is usually a stay-at-home parent’s most vulnerable time. After making sure Johnna was alive and breathing somewhere, I went to work. I try to have that mentality each day for her. I leave work to go home and go to work. ‘Doing,’ is not a problem for me, I am task oriented and get things done. On the other hand, connecting is more of a challenge. I probably cannot over-communicate in our relationship. Relaying the unimpressive, mundane realities of my day is love to Johnna. What I deem as not a lot to talk about is actually a lot to talk about from her perspective.
Tip 2: Quid Pro Quo.
I come in during the critical dinner hour ready to conduct a proper turnover because Johnna had Bible study. ‘From my experience…’ I need to create space for Johnna to get out, make friends, fellowship and time for her to be away from 10 little hands hanging on her. Things I need to know for turnover are: who is fed, who needs a diaper change, who needs a bath, and did they get their energy out today. Anyone who watches our kids has a list of work cut out for them. Recently, all I received was “I’m so tired, can I go now.” I replied with laughter and bewilderment. “Can I go now?” includes prep time, destress time, and in her case hair and makeup. Watching the kids one night a week is another way for me to support her role and show my love for her. She appreciates that ability to engage with women without the kids, whether it’s a few hours in the new shop she is staging or time with ladies from the church.
For every time I have left her for some ‘needed’ activity, I try to make it up to her in some form of encouragement. Quid Pro Quo doesn’t make sense if you are keeping a record of wrongs, but in a competition where I am eternally indebted to Johnna’s hardwork it is applicable. The deeper tip is humility and gratitude. Another lesson I have learned, build in that destress, hair, and makeup time for all engagements that your wife has to be at, you owe her that.
Tip 3: You NEED Jesus.
Lastly, ‘from my experience’ with taking care of the family, the only time I sat down was during nap time or when all the kids were in bed. I coveted those times. Nap time was only an opportunity to clean kitchen floors, fold laundry, and reset for afternoon activities. After all the kids were in bed and Johnna had everything she needed, then it was my time. One night, I sat down and a few seconds later heard “Honey!?!….” I cringed and know exactly how all you wives feel when we call for you after a long day. By evening, I only wanted to sit quietly in a dark room and let my brain coast for a little. Thankfully, while I was in survival SAHD mode, she gave me that as well as empathy and compliments.
I come home from work tired and she receives me tired. That is the life cycle many of us are in and we have to build in time for connection, communication and rest. Although I like to think I don’t need compliments, it was very encouraging to receive the title ‘Super-dad.’ It reaffirmed me, let me know I was heading in the right direction, and reflected that she noticed.
You will never be the perfect Dad, Mom, husband or wife. The expectations are too high. They are overwhelming which is exactly why Jesus has already completed the perfect life for you, died for you inherent selfishness and sinfulness, and made you presentable before God. I had to lose my life in order to save it. I am thankful for daily grace from Jesus and wisdom from His Word. I am continually learning. Seek Him and surrender to His will, then you will begin to appreciate your spouse for what he or she is worth.