My husband doesn’t help me.
He doesn’t babysit the kids so I can visit with friends, attend appointments, or go grocery shopping alone.
He doesn’t clean, cook, do the dishes, or fold laundry because I ask him to.
Nope. He does all these things because they are his responsibility.
My husband is actually pretty freaking amazing, and he does all these things and more, but not to “help.” He understands that he is part of this family and is obligated to participate in keeping the household running.
When he sees the floors are dirty, he sweeps. When company is coming over, he scrubs the toilets before they arrive. When I wash the towels but get distracted before putting them away, he gets to folding while watching TV. When the sink is full of dishes…well, he rinses them and stacks them neatly for me to put in the dishwasher, because I am stupidly controlling over this task. (But he knows this and accommodates me rather than loading it wrong and getting offended when I “fix” it!)
I try to schedule my appointments and coffee dates while my kids are at school and PDO, but when we double book or someone gets sick or all hell breaks loose (as is prone to happening when you have four kids), guess how my husband handles it? He tells his coworkers what’s going on, leaves work, and takes care of his family. He doesn’t “babysit,” ever. He PARENTS, because he is a parent and that’s what parents do. When I am not feeling well, he takes the kids to the park so I can rest; he schedules fun trips and activities with everyone; he takes each of our children on one-on-one dates. He disciplines with tenderness and love; he takes our kids to doctor and therapy appointments; he helps them with their homework. He isn’t just the adult man in our house.
He is their dad, 24/7/365.
I’m a stay-at-home mom, so yeah, I generally do more of the errand running and domestic tasks, just because I’m here, but that doesn’t mean it all lands on me. We are teaching our children by example that being part of a team means being proactive: when you see something that needs done, do it, even if it’s not “your job.” When you use the last of the toilet paper, you replace the roll. When the trash can is full, you take it out. When you can’t find any clean socks, you bring your hamper downstairs and wash your clothes. If we want our children to grow into responsible, capable adults one day, we have to model being responsible, capable adults ourselves. Yes, even dad.
Thankfully media representation is changing on this front, away from the bumbling Homer Simpson toward the more respectable Randall Pearson, because I know my husband is not an anomaly. Plenty of men are caring for their families just like he does, but it’s time they became the norm. I want our children to expect this partnership in their future relationships. I don’t want them to look for husbands or wives who “help.”