inner world,  mom blogs

my husband, single dad

This month I’ve been on a lot of trips for work meaning that Dave has both been asking for more help with caring for our son Reuben and watching him more. Let me say that I have no qualms whatsoever leaving Dave as the primary caregiver of Reuben. He is an awesome Dad that takes our son to do cool things, is nurturing and active as a parent. Awhile ago one of our friends we work with was asked by someone “so are you babysitting the kids while your wife is at work today?” when his wife was on a trip and he replied, “no, I’m not babysitting them, I’m their dad- I’m parenting them.” This has kind of summed up our views on being an egalitarian household when it comes to parenting- we’re both in it 100%.

Dave may do some crazy things with Reuben, but at least he's not a cannibal.
Dave may do some crazy things with Reuben, but at least he's not a cannibal.

However Dave has been pulling more like 150% lately since I’ve been away. He made squash and black bean soup that I smelled simmering on the stove when I walked in from the cold after an exhausting set of meetings in Cleveland. He took Reuben shopping to buy his nephew a present for his 4th birthday party & let him pick out a set of matchbox cars and one of those annoying hoops & yoyo singing cards. He did the laundry to make sure our son has clean underwear to clothe his little buns when he inevitably pees through the pair he’s wearing. I know many dads on staff with InterVarsity in particular that are like Dave- they sacrifice so much for their wives so that we can pursue our dreams, relationships and careers. I am always amazed by Dave and the many wonderful dads I know that are like him. I am so thankful for my husband who blesses and frees me to do the work God has called me to.

It is hard for me not to feel guilty at times- like I should be the one pulling the fresh loaves of rye bread from the oven and wiping Reuben’s snotty nose instead of motoring around the state talking to students about Jesus. It’s hard to know when it’s worth it to make sacrifices for my family for the sake of the gospel and when it’s just old-fashioned stubbornness coupled with drivenness that keeps me going. I don’t really have any answers for how I deal with this other than to make space to talk and pray with Dave about how he’s feeling, to set good boundaries we think are feasible for our family and to give ourselves the permission to reevaluate if they don’t seem to be working for us and do something new.

awesome dad dave
awesome dad dave

I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been doing this month, but I’ll enjoy it when it’s done and I can spend more time at home with Dave and Reuben. For other people who find themselves in situations like this, how do you manage the seasons of your life that are busier? How do you care for your spouse when they’ve been the one giving so much of themselves to make it work for your family? How do you deal with the simultaneous feelings of guilt and exhilaration at doing a job you love? How do you recuperate once that busy season is done?

One Comment

  • Lisa

    Good question. First, it’s just cool to hear you sing Dave’s praises, not because it’s unusual for you, but because I share your joy and admiration at seeing our husbands parent so well, and so differntly than we could alone. What a gift. Yay, IV men.

    – Jeff always offers me a chance to get out of the house. Sometimes I don’t take it because it’s not what I want, but sometimes I go running out of the place. The feeling of being outside and not having a car seat to lug around, is fabulous. I do the same thing for Jeff. I just make sure he knows he is free to go if needed/desired.
    – I deal with the guilt by thinking about what my kids are gaining by time with Jeff and what he is gaining with them. It would be selfish for me to want to be the only one getting all that bonding time with the kids (even though this is the traditional way). Now that Jeff has been around with the kids so much, I think it would be hard to go back. I also think about how we sacrifice different things. We don’t do many date nights, but we do a lot of family nights and then our dates are hulu on the couch or bringing beer home from the grocery store (classy!). Because one of us is often gone, we give almost all our free time to the kids or to friends who love our kids and let them tag along.
    – Recooperate. Usually we just go everywhere together as family. We’ll go to Target for fun or the library or a mall. Whatever, just something that seems really special to us because we’re together. When the kids are napping, the overworked parent can nap or so somewhere out of the house.

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