Saturday, June 19, 2010

What I learned about being a mother by watching my husband be father.

I'm sure like many parents out there, my husband and I have very different styles of parenting. Being two different genders, this really shouldn't have come as a surprise. But in my less mature days when I was naive and a novice at partnering with my husband to raise our children, I foolishly thought if my husband would just be more like me- it would be better for our kids. I know, extremely "young and dumb" thinking. But in my ever more enlightening condition I have come to realize that it is indeed not detrimental for our children to be raised by two people who view the world in their own way but extremely beneficial and maybe even critical. So here are some of the ways I am so grateful my husband is so very different from me:

*Streamlining- I first noticed this when I watched Eric give the kids a bath. You see Eric considers that when he has rinsed the shampoo from the kids hair, the cascading soap and water has done a good enough job of washing their bodies. To wash their bodies after that would just be redundant. This principle bleeds over into his discipline style. He sends them to their room with very little fanfare or discussion. To him a lecture about what they did wrong or how they need to change their behavior would just be redundant too. But I, on the other hand, am all over the during and post game analysis of what could you do next time to not get in trouble.
*Caretaking- If you are sick or injured in our house, you would much rather have Eric take care of you than me. I'm more of a "fever is our friend... don't give 'em any medicine so the fever can kill the infection... don't come to me unless there is blood...shake it off... if you stay home from school because you are sick than you are in bed sleeping" kind of gal. Eric comes from the "making you as comfortable as possible with your favorite movie to watch while on the couch home from school...let me kiss it better... do you need some ice for your owie or a pillow for your back" school of thought.
*Cash- Flow- I can guarantee that when our kids grow up they will say, "Mom never had money and Dad always did." Eric is extremely generous with his means to just about everyone, but especially where his kids are concerned. This use to frustrate me because I felt like I came off as the tight-wad and Eric was the money-bags. But I've come appreciate this about Eric because it is just part of who he is. To expect him to change would be like asking him not to be Eric. He works very hard and likes to take care of people. And I believe our children can learn something from both of us where money is concerned.
*Souvenir buying- I know this seems like a random quality to mention but it just so accurately depicts another aspect of his "caretaking/taking care of" personality. When we go on trips Eric goes to painstaking lengths to make sure the kids get what souvenir they want. He wants everyone to be happy so he will visit mulitple stores and take souvenirs back if you find a better one. It also part of his whole "make it happen" attitude. When he gets an idea in his mind he doesn't let grass grow under his feet for sure. Whereas my mantra is when we walk into one store where everyone can get one souvenir...."You get what you get and you don't through a fit."
*Salespitch- Eric can talk our kids into just about anything. He has this great way of selling any idea to them. I can't even begin to understand or duplicate it because I just don't posses that skill. For example one night Eric decided Suzie needed to throw away her favorite blankie because it had been loved into dirty shreds. So he proceeded to do just that. Suzie was livid to say the least. You would have thought we had surgically removed her heart or at least just thrown it in the garbage. Eric took the thrashing beast into her room and at first there was a lot of banging, throwing and general chaos. But after a few minutes Suzie came out peacefully holding a new blankie to love, asking to watch a movie and have popcorn. I asked Eric what he had done to calm her down and he vaguely answered, "Oh, we just had a talk." I think he knows this skill can't be taught, you have to be born with it. If I had been the one dealing with her I probably would have just shut her in her room and let her wreak havoc until she fell asleep.
*Inclusion- Eric is very good at making all kids, be they our own, the neighbors or cousins feel included. He has no problem taking all our kids and a few extra cousins places by himself.. like to ward campouts or waterparks. A lot of kids doesn't stress him out which is probably a byproduct of being the oldest of seven children. I don't think that not including or not being able to handle a crowd of kids in necessarily a weakness of mine, but I do think not all fathers can count this as their strength.
*Playfulness- This is probably true with a lot of fathers, but Eric is definitely the more playful one of the two of us. Most pictures we have of our kids in silly positions like with diapers on their heads or rolled up tight in blankets are usually Eric's doing. Here are some examples:
If that previous comment about diapers on heads didn't make any sense, this is what I mean.

All Eric's handiwork!
Guess who was the first to make bandanas out of Grandma Shauna's 4th of July napkins?!?

This is Katie and I know she doesn't look very happy, but look who is the one who has her riding the rooster!

Eric loves letting the kids fill the bathtub to the brim with bubbles.

Now I'm not trying to say that Eric is the perfect father just like I'm not the perfect mother. But together I think we cover a lot of bases. There are areas that he is much stronger than me and there are areas where I am the strong one. But to my kids, Eric is their hero. When he walks through the door at night, it is like a rock star has come in. They absolutely adore their father and there is no one else they would rather be with. So Happy Father's Day to the other half of our parenting team who has taught me so much!


Anonymous said...

amen to the whole post on Eric! I think it is funny that I couldn't tell exactly which one of my kids that was with the bandana- until I looked at it for a moment or two. I have decided it is Brett- mainly because of the gap in his teeth:)

Natalie said...

Eric is a pretty awesome Dad. I agree and appreciate all of the qualities you posted. He is the Dad that gets popcorn/drinks/and candy all packaged in that little box at the movies. So cool. Happy Fathers Day to Eric.

wendy said...

That was such a sweet post. I think you are both amazing.

Liz said...

Once again, you have nailed it! Thanks for your thoughts!

Braden said...

I came over here from Steph @ Diapers and Divinity and am so glad I did. What a wonderful post! I really enjoyed that. Lots of wisdom there. Your children are blessed with both their parents.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Hey Kari, I highlighted this post today on my blog as one of my summer favorites. I loved how you found the silver lining in your "differences." Anyway, hope it's okay that a bunch of strangers drop by to admire your writing. :)

Lara said...

I dropped by from Steph's site too. I have never thought of it this way, and I LOVE it! My husband parents so differently than I do, and I'm sure I have a lot I can learn from him, too.