It was a while ago when my mother said to me, “Your husband does a lot to help you with the baby, even changes the diaper!” She was wistful as she said it and clearly impressed. It was simply unheard of back then.
I nodded and said ‘of course, he’s our son.’
These days, new fathers help with diapers and more because they want to, out of love for their child and are no longer emasculated if they do.
I am incredibly thankful that’s the way it is now and I was reminded of it only recently.
I was going to be away from home for 5 days, travelling to another state, leaving my husband to run the whole parenting gamut on his own. Day and night shifts with no other help and making it work around his schedule. I have to admit I had a thought at the back of my mind, where I wanted my husband to realise the extent of just how much I did for our family.
Yet I was the one who learnt something entirely wonderful. I was humbled.
Not only did my husband have to push me to go, convincing me that he would be fine. He also said it was a genuine opportunity for father and son to bond without me as the usual in-between person.
In fact I think like most dads, my husband tends to have an easy and relaxed approach with our son and while I initially thought his approach was too relaxed, it was one I started to grant more attention.
Have you noticed this too? I’m sure that there are plenty more but here are 5 ways that I noticed are different with dads.
Dads pick their battles
My husband isn’t concerned over every little thing, like asking our son repeatedly to pack the toys away after a play session and getting upset if he doesn’t listen.
He doesn’t fuss when our little guy has finished his dinner with wiping his hands or cleaning his high chair. No, he has his own way to deal with these little tasks which I’ll muse more on later.
However, when my son was near the electrical cables behind the TV, my husband reacted through teaching our son on why it’s dangerous to play there. His calm but emphatic response of “No! Be careful. Danger” and removing our son from the area was the same twice more when it happened again and our son soon stopped it.
Rather than fuss over our toddler and using up our patience reserves, my husband saves his energy to ensure he can respond in a positive way for times when it’s more important. Like our son’s safety rather than the toys being left in disarray.
Dads make it fun
When our little guy has finished his dinner I go into auto mode and start cleaning him and his high chair. While I was away, my husband made cleaning fun.
He would give our son his own cleaning cloth and say, “Can you clean it all up by the time I count to 10?”
Promptly the high chair table is clean. It’s not 100% clean, but 80% which is good enough. With a bonus of connecting with each other. When it comes to having fun, I have a loose plan about what activities to do and where to go for a mini adventure but dads can make just about anything fun.
Dads make it funny
Ever since our son was a month-old newborn my husband had the habit of making funny faces while he rested our son on his lap. Now our little guy is a older yet they still make funny faces to each other.
It’s their thing.
They pass time just doing this. No words, just pulling faces and laughing with each other. Not only do they both feel happy from the laughter, they feel happy from the connection. It’s so funny that it’s so simple. It’s so intimate and true.
Dads go with the flow
Earlier I admitted that I have a tendency to schedule play dates and activities and play sessions with all good intentions of creating opportunities for different interactions. It doesn’t always go to plan and I would groan inwardly about the effort that’d been wasted. I persisted though because it was favourable 8 out of 10 times.
However, my husband makes it simpler for himself and lets our son make a decision on what he wants to do. Often it’s a choice between 2 activities, they can be ‘Do you want to kick a ball at the park or visit the ducks? Sometimes its the same choice over and over again.
And I realise that’s OK.
It doesn’t always have to be different types of activities, as long as there is some type of interaction.
Plus our son gets to choose and that goes a long way to developing a sense of self too.
Dads don’t put parenting on a pedestal
Maybe it’s just me, but I seem to look outwards and to others for ideas or inspiration or even reassurance on raising our son because I have carried this vision of what parenting should be like.
My husband is different. He looks inward, trusts in his own ability and connects to our son on a simpler level. He doesn’t compare notes on what to do and he doesn’t evaluate his actions against some imagined pedestal.
He is just present. He just gets on with it.
Earlier I had written that my husband had to push me to go on my trip. While I was mindful of the additional stress it would place on him, he trusted that it would all work out fine. And it did.
They went out to restaurants for early dinners, they made pizzas at home together, they went to the park and kicked the ball around. It sounded like so much fun.
And it was.
In those 5 days, I was shown just how much my husband does for our family, for our son and for me. And I didn’t think it could be possible, but my heart bloomed even more with love.