There is nothing I hate more than waking up to a sink full of dirty dishes.
It sets the tone for the whole day and it’s almost as if the dishes are mocking me when I come down the stairs and see them sitting there waiting to be cleaned. “Oh you need a knife to butter that toast? Maybe you should have thought about that last night.” Unfortunately, I also hate doing the dishes, so my husband has taken on the role of primary dishwasher in our household. Come to think of it, he’s also the primary trash taker-outer, lawn mower, and boo boo kisser.
Some people may say that I’m lucky to have a husband who helps out so much around the house and I would agree, but I think the people who benefit the most from my husband’s rejection of antiquated gender roles are my daughters, because it allows me to be a good mom.
There are some days when my patience is tried to its limits. When the baby refuses to nap and my toddler won’t stop singing the Sesame Street theme song, and I realize halfway into making dinner that what I thought was frozen broccoli is really chopped spinach that expired over a year ago. It is on these days that a sink full of dishes would literally put me over the edge, and just knowing that my husband will be the one scrubbing the pots and pans once the kids are asleep means the difference between frustrated words towards my daughter when she accidentally spills her water and calmly handing her a dishtowel. It means I’ll have the energy to turn on my daughter’s favorite song and have a late night dance party instead of turning on the TV. Just knowing that I’ll be able to have ten minutes to myself while my husband scrubs the dinner remnants (and breakfast and lunch remnants, let’s be honest) off plates and forks and spoons means that I’ll be able to hold it together when I find dried oatmeal all over the dining room chairs.
It means that I’ll have just enough patience and energy to last until bedtime.
I’m a good mom because I have the luxury of being a good mom. I know that I can hand over the kids without a word and get in my car and just drive as soon as my husband gets home if I need to. I know I don’t need to ask if I can grab coffee or a drink with a friend because instead of complaining that I’m leaving him alone with the kids, he’ll give me a kiss goodbye and tell me to enjoy my time away. Because of this, I’ll come back refreshed and ready to mom again. I won’t be annoyed when my daughter asks to get out the Play-doh or wants to read the same book for the tenth time in a row. I’ll have the energy to take both girls to the park and deal calmly with 5:00pm tantrums. I can make a healthy dinner and pay the bills because I know my husband will take the girls on a long walk while I chop the veggies and write the checks. He’ll come back 3o minutes later trailed by two happy, giggling girls, and in turn, I’ll laugh when the baby gets yogurt in her hair instead of thinking about the extra laundry she’s created.
I’m a good mom because my husband is a good dad.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think helping around the house and watching his own children makes my husband a superhero. Most would argue that these are things that all dads should be doing anyway, and I would agree, but that doesn’t make it the norm. Too many moms feel unsupported and underappreciated, and it’s the children who suffer the most. Parenthood is rough and it tests even the strongest of marriages. I admit that I often find myself mentally keeping score. I think about how many loads of laundry I’ve done and how many diapers I’ve changed, because it’s easy to forget that we’re in this together, and that for every load of laundry I’ve done, my husband has taken out the trash; for every dirty diaper I’ve changed, he’s cleaned a dirty high chair. I’m learning that parenthood is not about petty lists or one-upping your partner. It’s about forgiveness and support and most importantly, teamwork.