I have been asked to contribute a weekly column to our local newspaper, The Nebraska City NewsPress, my goal is that people are reminded that they are loved, they are not alone, and that we can do positive things together as a community. Here is this week’s column, it’s called “The Hard Part of Being a Dad”. Something happened over the Christmas holiday that I’m not really sure how to deal with.
I have two young children. My daughter is 5 and my son is 3. My wife and I try to share the parenting responsibilities as much as possible. That means that I change diapers, give baths, make meals, drive to daycare and preschool, shuttle off to dance, read books, put them to bed, console them when they are scared, play with them, kiss their boo boos, you know, all the things a parent might be called to do. I love doing it. Now I’ll admit there are times when I need a break, when I would rather just sit and watch TV, but for the most part I love being a dad, even when it isn’t glamorous.
Here’s the problem.
Over the holiday my son decided that I no longer would be allowed to be his parent. There’s nothing like trying to make breakfast for your child and they just scream, “I DON’T WANT YOU! I WANT MOM!!” On multiple occasions in the last month he has chosen to wait for mom instead of having me help him. Wait for food, wait for diaper changes, wait for being picked up when he fell, waiting to play, wait, wait, wait.
There’s something heartbreaking about your own child vocally refusing to allow you to help or be a part of his life, it’s even more heartbreaking when he’s 3.
The second and probably worse part of this “phase” is that my wife now has the burden of being a solo parent, while the other one just sits there unable to help. I can deal with a fickle three year old not wanting me to get him yogurt in the morning or help him put on his clothes for the day. What I can’t deal with is my partner feeling like she’s all by herself.
I take great pride in the fact that I am an involved parent, I take great pride in knowing I’m not a babysitter or a fill in, but I am present in my kids' lives, I know who they are, and I love the fact that my wife and I co-parent. I don’t want to just be a helper, an assistant, or stand by. I’m a dad and I love it.
I want my wife to know that she is not alone and that I will always be willing to stand with her and do my part to make sure our kids know they have two loving and involved parents. So for the time being I’m ok with my son only wanting mommy because I know at some point it will be my turn and I want to be ready when it is.
At dinner every night, my family goes around the table and shares their high points and low points of the day. We call it “Favorite” and “Not Favorite”. Here are my “Favorites” and “Not Favorites” of the week.
Favorite: Knowing that I have a loving partner that will be with me through the low spots.
Not Favorite: Not being good enough for my son right now.