My husband is a freaking saint. He cooks, he gets up with the kids at night, and I swear he's a far better stereotypical mother than I will ever be. If I wasn't married to the man, I'd be highly annoyed by him, honestly. I can vividly recall our very first date, sitting across from the 17-year-old boy who would later become my husband, admiring his biceps in the gray striped sweater he wore. Looking at him across the booth, I knew he was the real deal. It was almost like in that one moment I flash-forwarded to our entire lives and could see the years lining up before us with the clear vision that this guy would never flake out on me. And he hasn't. On the day I walked down the aisle, I knew I was marrying a man who would, first and foremost, always be my biggest source of support. I knew no matter what that he'd always be willing to cheer me on, be my shoulder to cry on, and help with whatever needed to be done.
And now that we're married — going on nine years this year — which seems truly unbelievable, my husband has definitely become everything I hoped for that day booth on our first date. Sure, he's not perfect and we fight like normal couples and we certainly have our own martial issues, but when it comes right down to it, I couldn't ask for a better husband. The only issue? I swear my husband is a better parent than I am.
In our family, my husband is the primary cook, and we all benefit from that, my kids included. I do the meal planning and the shopping and the prepping, but practically every night, my husband whips up meals like his family-favorite chicken pad thai. But my husband's stellar cooking skills have come with some awkward moments, especially when people come for dinner or my mother-in-law tries to compliment me on my cooking. When I cheerfully tell them that I didn't make the meal and that I don't cook, I'm often left with bewildered faces. The message I take from that is, "What? You don't cook? What kind of mother doesn't cook?" And I want so badly to say: Me.
I do all of the scheduling and school activities that come with having four kids, but when the kids wake up in the middle of the night, they usually call out for their dad, not me.
Realizing how great my husband is has also forced me to come face-to-face with some of my own preconceived notions about gender stereotyping, especially in terms of marriage and parenting. I don't believe that just because I'm a mom and a woman that I should be able to cook. And I don't believe that just because my husband identifies as a man, he should be kept from the kitchen. I love baking and I love cooking things like One-Pot Crockpot Wonder Meals, but the rest of it makes me crazy. My husband, on the other hand, loves it. So do I.
To be perfectly honest, my husband and I don't have a stereotypical traditional marriage at all. He's a "manly man" in so many ways, but in other ways, we've been lucky enough to figure out what works for us and not worry about assigning roles based on gender. For example, I'm a working mom and we're both able to earn income to support our family. I am the primary breadwinner in our home and I handle all the finances and money management. My husband is a phenomenal chef. I do all of the scheduling and school activities that come with having four kids, but when the kids wake up in the middle of the night, they usually call out for their dad, not me.
I could bemoan my marriage and beat myself up for not being "good enough" as a mom, but I refuse to do that. Instead, I focus on fostering what works for our relationship and our family.
There's also one important part of the day that typically falls into "mom territory," and naturally, my husband tackles it so much better than me: bath time. I loathe bath time. I dread bath time. I will do anything to get out of bath time, including volunteering to scrape unidentifiable food objects from between the crevices of the kitchen floor if he will just bathe the children.
When I give the children baths, I turn into a maniacal version of myself, tearing my hair out and screaming like Cruella De Vil for the children to just get clean already. I literally have no patience left by the end of the day. But when my husband bathes them? Well, the man is freaking Mary Poppins, singing and initiating fun little games and hosting tickle fights while wiggling the kids into pajamas. He somehow manages to make it through whistling with a smile on his face. It's a skill I sorely lack.
All in all, if we were keeping score (and we're totally not), my husband would be winning in the game of who's a better parent. And I could bemoan my marriage and beat myself up for not being "good enough" as a mom, but I refuse to do that. Instead, I focus on fostering what works for our relationship and our family. And if I have a husband who cooks, gets up with kids at night, and handles bath time better than I do, all I can do is thank my lucky stars. And maybe just pat myself a little on the back for realizing what a great person the guy in the gray sweater was all those years ago.