"A real man makes his own luck" -Dwight Shrute

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Someone commented the other day that I was so lucky to have married such a hands-on dad and I almost choked on my own spit. I'm sorry. I didn't just find him in a bar and marry him. No, no, no. This hands-on-edness was a long and arduous process. I hate to say it, but I made him a hands-on dad. I didn't find him that way. Wish I had. But I didn't. And in his defense, the foundation certainly was there. I mean, I auditioned hundreds of men for the part of husband and I picked D for a reason. Granted, I might have a let a good one - or two - slip through my fingers before D, but I have to think the stars just weren't aligned. But as great as my husband was when I found him (actually, he found me. Sitting at the upstairs bar at the Black Bear. I was just kidding about not finding him at a bar. Because that's actually where we met. But that's a whole different story...) he wasn't already a hands-on dad. No, that took some work.

In fact, it was a learning process for all of us. When I was pregnant the first time, I started to pay very close attention to the mothers around me. What were they doing that I wanted to emulate? What were they doing that wouldn't, in a million years, ever work for us? And one of the things I noticed was that the parental responsibilities - good and bad - in some families were a lot more equally distributed than others. This was what I wanted. Um, make that, what I needed. I knew that not only for myself, but for the mental and emotional health and well-being of D and our children, he needed to be actively involved in all aspects of our lives. I did not want the peripheral dad. The sorta stranger who had no idea what the kids ate or when they went to sleep or what their favorite books were. I did not want the Disneyland dad who was super-fun on the weekends and who talked to the kids in that awkward how-old-are-you-again voice.

So when E was old enough that he wasn't nursing every two hours, I started to hide. "Hey babe, I need to go..." fill in mundane task here. And I would dawdle. Moving laundry from the washer to the dryer never took so long. Sometimes I'd come back and everything would be fine. Other times, I would round the corner and jump right back into the other room because E was crying and D needed to figure out how to fix him. And I was the worst kind of sneak because I would stand there, just out of sight, biting my fingernails, fighting the temptation to swoop in and save them. And as hard as it was (heart in throat, breast-milk leaking through shirt, frown forming on lips, brow furrowed) I didn't come back around that corner till they had figured it out. I stood there and silently cheered them on, but I never. ever. saved them.

And while I still know E best for no other reason than I spend the most time with him, his dad is a close second. And often I'm wrong and D is right. Sometimes, D makes a suggestion, like maybe we need to move up his nap, and I doubt yet try and it works! Or D has a heart-to-heart talk with him and it changes an undesirable behavior (yes, it looks like the pushing might have been resolved by a "Hugs not Pushes" campaign launched by dad himself!) And on Sunday mornings, when they disappear for a few hours and the house is all quiet and I miss them both terribly, I wait for Scout to bark that they'rehomethey'rehomethey'rehome! and they come back all breathless and excited and full of stories of digging dinosaur bones. It is then that it is worth all the heartache and hard-work that we put into those first difficult months. Because there is nothing like having a hands-on dad, and nothing like having a hands-on husband, even if some people assume it was just luck. And now that I think about it, maybe it was. Maybe it was.

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