Above average. Hands on. Amazing. Mr. Mom. So involved. A Gem.
These are just a few of the words that have been used to describe my husband as a parent. And as much as I would like to attribute his awesome abilities as a father to my example and maternal influence, he was a “super dad” long before we even became parents. It is part of the reason I married him. It was no surprise to me when he wanted to come to every doctor’s appointment when we were expecting, that he got up every night with our newborns and did what he could to help with nighttime feedings, that dinner/baths/bedtime fall to him just as often as they to do me, that I can confidently travel for work and know that he will run the house just as well (albeit perhaps a bit different) as I would. In more recent years, his super dad talents have expanded to include hair doing (on three very particular young ladies nonetheless), navigating the fragile emotions of a school ager, and solo trips to Costco with a potty training toddler that would bring most mothers (myself included) to tears. These talents are not something he seeks praise for. Quite the opposite – when people compliment him on his level of involvement with our girls, his response is always, “They are my kids…why wouldn’t I do these things?” He will probably be offended by the term super dad because to him, it is just being dad.
As a partner, he is all the things I am not. Patient, easily forgiving, laid back – characteristics that I have to work hard on every day that come so naturally to him. But these qualities are what made me confident that as a parenting team, we could raise some pretty great kids. And though our kids are still young and there is a lot of life left to live, we have learned a lot partnering together. As the co-parent to a super dad, I have found some truths from our experience as a modern family:
- Co-Parenting is not 50/50. It is 100% effort every day. What that 100% looks like differs often – some days, he has to give 100% to our children because I have to give 100% to my career. Some days we both get to give 100% to our kids (and some days require and/or merit this…i.e. household stomach flu, family vacations). And some days it is one person giving 100% times two in all areas because the other parent just cannot. Which brings me to my next point…
- Since we started our parenting journey, we have always had the understanding that one parent could “tap out”, judgement free when needed and the other person would step in and do whatever necessary to give them that break. This has been key in our partnership as parents. Everyone has those moments where they “can’t even” and knowing that you have someone to back you up when you most need it is both a blessing and a life line that is not taken for granted.
- Not everyone will understand your parental dynamic. In our house, my husband is my co-parent, not my subordinate or my babysitter or my 4th child. We are equals when it comes to our kids. And though that doesn’t work for everyone, it works for us.
The drawbacks to life with a super dad…and I hesitate to call them that because they are anything but negative, but there are some considerations when you have an equal parenting partnership:
- The kids will ask for him over you sometimes. If our girls get hurt or scared, they often run to daddy’s arms. Daddy is the preferred parent for a lot of their needs. And though this is a beautiful thing, as a mom, sometimes it is hard to not be the one who is needed all the time.
- They will have insight on your children that you don’t. As a super dad, my husband has formed an incredible bond with our daughters. They have inside jokes and commonalities that I don’t try to butt in on. And even though you think you instinctually know your kids the best, that insight allows you to leverage two equal perspectives on what makes your kids tick.
- You have to let go of “your way”. Or at least try (work in progress for me)…I have had to learn to give him space to establish his own rhythm, method, routine with our kids. Sometimes you may still like your way better but a lot of times I find his way eventually becomes our way.
Is our parenting relationship perfect? No! We have our challenges just like any other parenting combo does. But I am proud of our partnership and though I don’t like to use the word “lucky” to describe how I feel about having a super dad in my corner (since that trivializes our intentional choice to parent together this way), I am very thankful for him. I could not be the mom I am without him being the dad he is. And this journey as a parent is a lot less scary with him by my side.