What do I want? To be a dad

It’s almost Mothers’ Day. You know, that one day when toast in bed or a bunch of flowers is meant to make up for years of being vomited on, pooed on and woken at weird hours of the night.

I’ve decided this year what I’d really like for Mothers’ Day is to be a dad.

There are some obvious benefits.

The bar seems lower when it comes to, well, most things.
I’d love to hear people say to [husband]: “Gosh, Susan really does help out with the kids doesn’t she? You’re so lucky.”

Or when he’s out on the odd occasion without them: “Oh is Mum on babysitting duty? Better make the most of it!”

Not being the keeper of the social calendar
It seems that everything from booking swimming lessons to remembering whose birthday party we have to get to falls to me. This is not to say it’s his fault – Plunket, the doctor, anyone else you can think of… they all just want my contact details. Even Facebook’s algorithm thinks I’m the one who cares about the “family” events on around us.

But wouldn’t it be good to be the one asking: Is there anything on this weekend? Rather than the one having to remember.

Ditto being the carrier-of-the-bag. Whether we have enough supplies when we head out usually comes down to me because I am the owner of the bags, the stasher of the nappies and the carrier of the wipes. I wouldn’t mind giving that one up.

They might listen to me
With me the whining sometimes feels constant. “Muuuum can I have blah blah blah.” “Muuum I don’t want to blah blah.” If I say no, the whining just gets more intense until I expend all my energy trying to come up with some amazing form of distraction, or I give in. With dad, the little one hears no and somehow accepts it.

When [husband] wants to go to the toilet I distract the children so he gets 10 minutes (sometimes much, much longer) in peace. It’s only when I’m feeling particularly sadistic and little one asks where dad is and I say “why don’t you go and find him” that he gets interrupted. But with me I have to choose whether to lock the door and put up with it being hammered on, with so much shouting that I worry the neighbours might come and see if I need help, or let them in for a full audience. Once, the small one came into the bathroom to ask me if he could have grapes, while his father was in the kitchen, eating said grapes.

We put frosting on the bathroom windows one day shortly after both father and son came in to talk to me while I was on the toilet. This kind of missed the point.

Sleeping through
I used to be the heavier sleeper. Then we had kids. Now I can be up a couple of times without the other side of the bed registering it. In his defence, this because sometimes the small one will creep around to my side  – tiptoeing right past his father – and whisper in my ear to wake me up.

No mum guilt
This is kind of what it’s like to be in my brain: Work work work, wish I could sleep a bit more, aren’t they cute… oh wait, shouldn’t they be outside in the fresh air, how much TV have we watched today, when was the last time they had vegetables, do I read to them enough? Is my work getting in the way of our bonding time? Should I be doing less of my own thing (whatever that is) so that I can devote more time to my beloved children?

Dads don’t seem to carry this guilt. If we make it to the end of the day and we are all in one piece and pretty happy, that gets chalked up as a win. Maybe, even if I don’t get my wish, I’ll try to absorb a bit of this approach this weekend, anyway.


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