I know what you’re thinking just reading that title. I must be anti-feminism to “thank” the man for doing the work he should, right? After all, – I – am the one who carried our little darlings for nine months and then delivered them to a smiling (completely clothed) father, who had the nerve to take 50% credit for that beautiful squalling babe in his arms. Don’t even get me started on the whole nursing/postpartum thing afterward.
Me, yes, me again.
So I completely agree, he should help raise HIS children without me ever asking.
But let’s be honest here, moms. Men are just wired differently than us. They are incredible humans, but I’m not going to pretend I understand them. What I think should be the natural course of events, seems to completely elude my partner parent. It took several years of co-parenting (where I’d need obvious help and my husband would just stand there oblivious until I used sarcasm, anger, and obvious exasperation to get him to notice) before I figured out that we would ALL be happier if I just asked for what I needed where our children were concerned.
“Hey honey, can you go pack 2 full outfits with socks and 43 diapers in the small, blue diaper bag?”
“My dear, will you please take the baby for a walk on Saturday mornings so I can sleep in? Because when I hear a baby noise, even through the wall, I’m hard-wired to wake up and don’t get any rest.”
And then remember to say THANK YOU afterward. It sounds funny, but I try to treat my husband as I would a kind stranger. I ask him if he “would mind” helping me for a bit. I say thank you- and I MEAN IT when he helps me. After all, if a stranger deserves my kindness, well- surely my life partner does too.
He was and still is, so eager to help me with our kids. But the baby/kid sense that seems to just come naturally to me, is a foreign language to him. We are both so much happier now that the communication line is open between us. It’s a fluid cycle. I ask him for help, essentially telling him exactly what I need from him. He is not trying to guess what a frazzled mom stare (glare?) means. I’m not frustrated with him. He’s not saddled with a grouchy wife. And I believe our children can feel when their parents are tense and will react to it.
Calmer Mom. Calmer Dad. Calmer kids. We all win.
So just do it. Forget the “he shoulds” and just ask (politely) for the help you need. You’ll be surprised at what the two of you will conquer once united in child rearing.