My husband is a fantastic father. But he’s still a guy, and he drives me insane. So this Father’s Day I am trying something new: Finding the good in the stuff he does that threatens to send me to the asylum. Why? Because I realize more each year that some of the stuff he does that I find absolutely asinine provides a different point of view for our kids. It gives them perspective. It balances out my crazy. It dilutes my anal retentiveness, reduces the impact of my neuroses, and lets them know that not everyone deals with stuff in the same way. We are all individuals, after all, and my way is not always the only way (did I really just admit that?). So here are a few of the things that get under my skin, make me shake my head, and ultimately bring balance to our attempt at parenting.
- What is with that get-up?
I am a bit of a clothes freak. I love to shop. I love fashion. This is one way in which I am a complete lunatic, and a slave to consumerism. My husband could not care less about clothes. Clothes are a necessity. His carefree attitude toward clothing has passed on to my boys, who put together the most (ahem) interesting combinations of clothing I have ever seen. The orange and black shorts with neon yellow t-shirt, gray socks, and high top Chuck Taylors is a sight that makes me grind my teeth. While I am happy my boys are comfortable in their clothing, why must they look like a Goodwill exploded all over them? Whatever is on top of the closest clothes pile is what they don. My husband cares not a lick. I try to stack the clothes in pairs when I put them away so they just happen to grab stuff that sort of goes together. I stack “outfits” together in their suitcase when we travel. As Yoda would say, “It matters not.” They somehow manage to put together the only two items that clash horribly. While this drives me to distraction, it is actually quite fabulous that they don’t care a bit. Why? Because, really, who cares? They are comfortable, they are happy, and that’s what matters.
- What the hell did they just eat?
I grew up in an Italian family, where mealtime was a freaking production. The food, the presentation, the fanfare…it was insane. As such, I have a hang-up about what constitutes a proper meal. “Mom, we had sausages cooked on a stick over an open fire for dinner!” Ok. What else? Were they on buns? Did you have condiments? A side dish? A salad? For the love of God, a piece of fruit? Of course not. Just some meat. On a stick. It just doesn’t seem right. In the same way that having pizza and a bean burrito for lunch doesn’t seem right. Why not pizza and some salad? A bean burrito and some fruit? I know I am a crazy freak, which is why it is so great that my husband is not tied to any rules about food, except that healthy food is good (but no need to be a fanatic). And while I grew up developing an unhealthy relationship with food that I battle with to this day, my kids see it like my husband does – it is fuel for your body and you don’t have to have three courses at dinner for it to be a meal. An apple and edamame for lunch? Great idea, daddy.
- Wait…you didn’t bring hand sanitizer with you to the playground?
I admit that I ignore all of the hype about how important it is for our kids to eat dirt to build strong immune systems. Why? Because, simply put, I hate it when they are sick. They have to stay home from school. They are disgusting. They barf. They poop everywhere. It is just plain gross and I would like to avoid it at all costs. I harass my boys about washing their hands, and using wipes or hand sanitizer, everywhere we go. Don’t get me wrong – my kids have been sick a crap ton of times. They were both daycare babies and the endless barrage of poop and puke started for both of them before they were a year old (plus, unlimited colds, ear infections, strep throat, hand, foot, and mouth virus, and many unexplained fevers of nefarious origin). It’s not like I make them live in a bubble, but my husband is far more lax about the whole “wash your hands before you eat” manifesto that I live by. As such, my kids are not completely neurotic about germs. This is really, really great, as I don’t want to raise germophobes. (Note: hubs is also way less freaked out by the barf and poop, which probably explains his take on the whole thing).
- Why are you an emotionless robot?
My husband is completely unemotional about most stuff. Sometimes I start talking to him about a struggle one of the kids is dealing with, my voice fluttering, face getting pink, and he just replies, “uh-huh.” That is, if he replies at all. Seriously. What. The. Hell. Dude. Just the thought of my son having a minor procedure that requires anesthesia, or dealing with a not so nice kid at school, makes my heart hurt. While he makes me want to scream, “why aren’t you more concerned about this,” it actually helps that hubby is like a robot about this stuff. The kids don’t need both parents to be driven by emotion. He brings the logic and the rational responses. As such, my kids are both pretty good about handling injuries, doctor visits, and jerky schoolyard bullies. They don’t throw fits. They don’t cry and scream. They pretty much roll with the punches, a reflection of my husband’s cool logic balancing out my bleeding heart.
What’s the lesson here? All the crap our husbands do that make us want to tear our hair out could actually be helping to balance out the crap we do that makes our kids want to tear their hair out. Our husbands are different than us. While endlessly annoying, it’s probably one of the best ways they contribute to raising healthy, sane children.
Here’s to fathers, and the balance they bring to the lives of our children.