Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Babysitting dads

This post has been rattling in my brain for quite awhile, and I finally decided to be disciplined and write it. But you should know I am kicking and screaming and dreaming of eating cookies instead while I do so.

So, two weeks ago I read an article written by a dad (maybe on who gets frustrated when he takes the kids to the store and people say things like, "Aww, are you giving Mommy the night off?" or "Wow, Dad's babysitting tonight!" The author said that he takes his kids with him when he goes to the store because they're his kids. And they belong with him. He's not borrowing them from their mom or just biding his time until she swoops in and parents again. He is the dad; if he needs to go to the store, the kids go with him. Period.

I loved hearing his thoughts on dads being with kids. For some reason, I have a warped sense of fatherhood. To be clear, Ryan is a GREAT dad. He plays with the girls every day, reads them books, cuts up their food into appropriately-sized bites, refills their milk, changes diapers and wipes bottoms, and disciplines and trains them accordingly. He is also a great husband in that he never expects me to be the primary caregiver to our girls when he is also home.

Anyway, after I read that article, Ryan got home and I jumped in the car to go to the gym per our usual routine. I go two evenings during the work week for an hour and a half each, which basically kills any family time for the evening. And if I ever get together with other women or want to run errands by myself or get a haircut for heaven's sake on top of going to the gym, I feel like I am the most irresponsible, flighty wife and mother on the planet.
So I have this pull between wanting (NEEDING!) to get out and be an adult woman without kids and needing (WANTING!) to spend time as a family. I simply can't do both.

The result is one of three things:
1. A perfect balance (hahahaha HAHAHA like I have ever achieved a perfect balance of anything)
2. Too little alone time (which means I become even more cranky, irrational, desperate, and chubby)
3. Too little family time (which makes me sad)

When I do get alone time, I feel like we are relay-parenting. Ryan comes home, I slap his hand, and I leave. Obviously, this is not the ideal way to parent or to have a good marriage.

Also, I feel like I am "sticking him with" the kids. I know this is the exact opposite of what the (?) author believes, but whatever. I'm crazy.

Reality is very complex, but I will try to break it down (as it relates to this topic. If you would like a full breakdown of reality a la Kathryn, just ask!) (Also, I am not sure I used periods correctly there.)
1. Ryan is a capable father.
2. Ryan loves spending time with the girls, with or without me.
3. This mama needs to get out of the house sometimes. Okay, often.
4. Ryan has never, ever complained that I am gone too much.
5. Ryan would tell me to dial it back if he felt like it was in the family's best interest.

So, I guess I'll leave well enough alone. I'll still go to the gym and book club, get my hair cut, and finally book the massage I've had a certificate for since Mother's Day. The rest of my family will be at home without me, just hanging out. Not "babysitting" or "being babysat", just spending the evening together. Right?



  1. This stirs a lot of thoughts in me. I wish Ryan were here to take them off my hands for a while because I need to be thinking of something else!

  2. Amen! I hear ya. Sounds like our routines are the same - I go to the gym twice a week and it's exactly as you say. J comes home, I slap his hand and off I go. It stinks, but also very needed. I do feel kind of bad for not being home or going out by myself, but to be honest, we NEED that time...and I try to limit myself but who am I kidding? If he wanted to do the same - he, they get all day without the kids. It's good for them to be at home with dad! I think those are some memories they will look back and cherish. I don't know if my comment makes sense, but I'm 100% with you.