I watched my husband dangle our 7-year-old daughter from her ankles the other day, her head inches away from the sidewalk as she completed a backflip against his body and landed triumphantly on the ground. Another mom next to me said, “Wow, you must really trust him!”
Her remark made me laugh because several years ago, I would have been frantically telling him to put her down.
When I was a new mom, I was often horrified by the way my husband parented our children. He tossed them way too high in the air, fed them the weirdest concoctions like goldfish-and-peanut-butter sandwiches, and never seemed to worry about bedtimes.
But now, after years of (mostly successful) co-parenting, I don’t just tolerate my husband’s very male style of parenting, but appreciate all it has taught me, including:
Keep it simple: I used to think quality family time had to entail some huge outing together. But my husband has taught me that playing soccer in the family room or riding on the backyard rope swing can be just as fun. Our kids and our family are actually happier when life is not a big production, but a culmination of simple, happy moments.
Girls need roughhousing, too: Every day when my husband gets home from work, our two daughters tackle him to the ground and wrestle. I am convinced there is no better cure for bad days or worries than a good, old-fashioned round of roughhousing.
Mistakes make memories: My go-to response when plans fall through or activities don’t work out as I expected is to throw my hands up and then spend the rest of the day pouting. But thanks to my husband, I have realized that sometimes the best memories come from the days when everything goes wrong. Like when it rained on a park outing and we ended up soaking wet, hiding under a pine tree while the kids darted out to jump in puddles.
Risk is a good thing: My mama bear response means I don’t like to see my children in pain or on the cusp of danger. So it’s hard to watch my husband hurdle our infant children into the air or help them bodysurf monumental waves in the ocean. But every risky experience only increases their self-esteem. They know they can do hard things — even scary things — and survive.
It really is going to be OK: My husband has a unique (and probably very male) ability to push aside worry. I have a very female ability to fret about everything. I’m sure I will also be a worrier on some level because I’m a mom and that’s what we do. But the most important thing I have learned from my husband is that everything will be OK. There will be obstacles and bad days, but worrying about it won’t avoid the hardships; it will just prolong their impact on my life.
So, Honey, keep on tossing our kids in the air and doing your daddy thing. Our daughters are lucky to have you because you give them something I can’t, and you’re making me a better mom along the way.
What have you learned from your husband’s style of parenting?
Erin Stewart is a regular blogger. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, she discusses it all while her 7-year-old and 3-year-old daughters dive-bomb off the couch behind her.