When It Comes To Playing Parenthood As A Team Sport, Why Do Dads Do It Better?

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I’m probably going to get some slack for writing this article, but I want to discuss a parenting phenomenon I’ve observed too often lately. Why is it so much easier for dads to hire help and make their lives easier when watching their children? Why don’t they appear to feel guilty about this? And why do we, as moms judge and criticize them for it? I know lots of moms, that when they make plans with friends for an afternoon or evening, their husbands often call a nanny, babysitter, or family member to come over and help with the kids. And when mom hears this, she responds with anger and frustration, complaining that she doesn’t understand why her husband can’t handle taking care of all the children alone, something she does every single day of the week.

I want to first differentiate between the men who are literally never alone with their children and refuse to be, forcing their wives to never be able to take a trip, attend a special event, or a night off with the girls unless they arrange for their own child care. I’m not talking about these men. That topic deserves its own post. I’m referring to the average hands-on, involved dad who likes an extra set of hand with his kids when mom isn’t home. Why shouldn’t these dads ask for help if they believe it will make their afternoon or evening easier?

Why don’t we ask for help more often (if we can afford it) to make our mornings, afternoons or evenings easier? And when we do, why are we always explaining it to everyone else? We spend so much time justifying our need to have a part-time nanny or ask the babysitter to work extra hours when our partners travel or work long hours rather than just accepting that we don’t need to do everything by ourselves and it’s perfectly okay to have a team to help make the experience of parenting solo less exhausting and overwhelming.

Some moms might want their husbands to experience exactly what they go through every day with their children—the feedings, the diaper-changing, the wiping, the cleaning up of snot and spit up, the neediness, the nagging, the questions, the laundry, the cleaning, the negotiating, the constant entertaining, the nap refusals, the cooking, the being a tiny human’s “snack bitch.” They want them to feel what it’s like to sometimes want to lock yourself in a closet and pretend you can’t hear anyone calling out for you. I get it. There are many times when my husband returns from a business trip and I want him to know about and greatly appreciate everything I have done for and with his child while he was away, but is it right that I want him to feel the miserable parts in addition to the good ones?

Shouldn’t we want our spouse’s lives to be easier if it’s possible? Aren’t we entitled to make our own lives easier if possible? I have a feeling our spouses want to make our lives easier when they can. And don’t we often benefit when they call for help? I bet there is a better chance all that laundry is getting done, folded and put away if the nanny comes over. Perhaps when you get home your children’s lunches will be made for school the next day because the babysitter did it. The house might look a little cleaner and a bit more organized because your mother-in-law was there while you were out. Is any of that really so bad? Does it really deserve that eye-roll you gave when you left?

Moms, are you telling me honestly, that if offered and it can be afforded from time to time, that you wouldn’t say yes to an extra hand to help with the kids in favor of just doing it all by yourself? I know you can do it by yourself. You’re a woman and a mom. You’re amazing. Of course you can, but why should you have to? What do you think you have to prove? Does it bring you joy? Or would you rather be able to achieve a balance on some days that allows you to take care of your own needs, which might include letting someone else tend to the kids and household chores for once.

It really does take a village. Having someone come over to help us and give us a break doesn’t make us terrible mothers or mean we don’t love and want to spend time with our children. It just means that we are tired and are taking some well-deserved time-off, even if it’s only for a few hours. We have nothing to feel guilty about. I can almost guarantee that your partner is not rolling his eyes or complaining to his friends about this.

So why do we, as women struggle so much with this? Why do we think we have to do it all and without any assistance? Why do we care what others think about the team we employ to help us take care of our children? A good friend of mine who works as an executive and life coach once told me that she believes the main thing holding women back in business is permission. It’s almost as if they are waiting for someone else to give them permission to do something. Men don’t generally have that issue. They just go out make it happen, ask for what they need and keep moving forward without too much concern. If they bump into a roadblock, they figure out how to get around whatever has gotten in their way.

The same could possibly be applied to motherhood in many ways, especially with this concept of having a team of some sort that makes our lives just a little more manageable. It’s as if we need permission to have heIp. We need someone else to tell us it’s okay before we ask. And when we get overwhelmed and need it, we would rather do everything by ourselves than figure out how to navigate around our roadblocks like these men in business do, often the same men we are married to who don’t hesitate when making that call to the sitter.

I am a stay at home mom who is fortunate enough and beyond grateful to have a part-time nanny. My husband travels a lot for business and neither of our mothers live close by (I’m still justifying the fact that I have help even as I write this article). When my son was younger and my husband was away for days at a time, I would often ask our nanny to stay later to help me with the bath and bedtime routine. I still ask her to stay later sometimes when he travels for more than a few days at a time, especially when it’s over a weekend.

While I still sometimes find myself explaining and justifying to other people why I have part-time help when I don’t work, I stopped feeling guilty about my choices a long time ago. I don’t need to ask permission. I’m comfortable admitting that parenting is hard and I don’t always want to do it by myself. It doesn’t make me a less capable mother because I hire help or a horrible one because I want to make my life easier. I don’t resent my husband when he wants make his life easier as well. And we both want to make the other’s life easier when possible.

Moms, let’s stop criticizing our husbands for asking for what they want and start imitating their behavior. Let’s put an end to measuring our worth as mothers by how much we do and giving into the belief that we have to do it all by ourselves. If anyone deserves to have the nanny or babysitter come over for a few hours when you’re home alone with all the kids, have endless piles of laundry to sort through, lunches to be made, and dinners to be prepared, it’s you. You absolutely don’t need it, but you have my permission to call and ask for help!

8 Reasons I Might Be A Dad Trapped Inside a Mom’s Body

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Do you ever wonder if you are missing the motherhood gene? I mean, I know I’m a kickass mom, but I think we all feel like this sometimes. I remember when I first started seeing my therapist during the days of postpartum depression (a time where I had no interest in being a mom at all), and she determined that I was more of an A-/B+ personality, she also decided I was part male (I happen to agree with her but that’s another blog post for another time). Lately that has me thinking…maybe it’s not that I’m missing the mom gene, but perhaps there are times when I could actually be a dad trapped inside a mom’s body--because here are eight examples of my less than stellar parenthood behaviors (we all have our moments) and let’s be honest moms, aren’t these things we like to get on our husband’s cases for? And if I’m being completely honest, my husband may have helped me with this list…because he kind of agrees!

  1. When I go out of town, my husband puts our little one to sleep and cooks himself a gourmet meal and sets a proper place at the table. I’m talking restaurant style--place mat, correct placing of utensils, fully poured glass of wine and all. When my husband goes out of town, I get in my pajamas, turn on the Netflix, call for takeout and eat from the box the food came in. And if dessert is involved, it’s probably coming in bed with me.
  1. On Saturdays, my husband spends all morning with our son, going from activity to activity—breakfast, soccer, car wash, mini golf, watching trains, riding the trolley, playground, Lego store, grocery shopping, and more. He wonders if they haven’t done enough. When my husband is out of town and I’m responsible for the Saturday morning routine, I most likely make it to the car wash before we find ourselves at home binge-watching Paw Patrol. I'm exhausted just thinking about that activity list!

  1. My husband complains our son is in front of the TV too much. I on the other hand, think differently because Daniel Tiger teaches very important life lessons. Also, I was raised on TV and I turned out pretty awesome!
  1. My husband worries our son isn’t eating enough vegetables. I often feed our son what's easy and doesn't take much effort (by 6pm, I'm too tired for food wars)--mac and cheese, bread, yogurt, cheese sticks, and/or cereal. Hey, there is plenty of protein built in to those meals. And if I’m lucky, I can get a few blueberries into his mouth.
  1. My husband will feel bad leaving our son home for the weekend. I'll miss him, but I’m always looking for the next adult weekend trip. (Who doesn't want the chance to sleep in?)
  1. At night, my husband is the first to jump out of bed when our son calls out. There are times I contemplate pretending I’m still asleep before going to his room. (Don't judge. You do it too!)
  1. My husband usually does the bath and bedtime routine. It’s the only quality time he really gets with our son during the work week. When my husband goes out after work or on a business trip, I’m happy to do bedtime (that means I get to be in bed before 8!), but the bath? Probably getting skipped. (Am I the only mom who thinks bath time is stressful time, not special time?)
  1. Our son does not eat dinner in front of the TV. He eats at the kitchen table and we talk and read books. On my husbands’ last business trip, we picked up Chick Fil-A, put our pajamas on and ate our dinner on the couch, watching Penguins of Madagascar. (Shhhh. Don’t tell my husband!)

So, while I’m the parent who stays home with our son, takes him to school every morning, to doctors' appointments, makes sure he has clothes that actually fit him, food for school lunches, and that tuition and forms are turned in on time, I can’t help thinking whether he wonders if I’m more like the daddy who likes to nap, sit on the couch, can't cook, gives him too many snacks, and would prefer to watch movies with him than play at the playground. I guess that makes me the type A-/B+, part-male mommy!

I realize I'm totally stereotyping the wonderful fathers of our children...but it's all in good fun!

P.S. Want to share this? I'd be honored! Copy and paste this link: https://wp.me/p7MrIL-pr and thank you! Sharing my work is the nicest compliment you could possibly give me. ~xo, Jen

Postpartum Depression: An Interview With My Husband

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I try not to feel guilty about having postpartum depression, but sometimes I can't help but feel guilty about putting my husband through it. I can't begin to imagine what it was like for him. Husbands, the fathers of our children, are often left out of the postpartum depression conversation. Our men can be just as clueless about PPD as we are before it runs us over like a mac truck. They must feel just as lost and helpless as the women they love and now share a child with feel. Most want to help but have no idea where to even begin. I've been asked the same question by so many moms I know. They want to know how my husband was able to "get it." Some of these moms who also suffered from PPD had husbands who didn't immediately understand what they were going through--how could they not fall in love or bond with their baby right away--why a trip to the gym or nail salon couldn't alleviate their tears and anxiety.  I remember a few things about my husband during that time. First, he agreed to come to a therapy session with me. This proved to be extremely helpful because he could listen to a trained professional specializing in what I was going through. Second, my husband is a "researcher", so I'm pretty sure he educated himself about PPD on the Internet. Third, I made him read the information here and he followed it. Lastly, he just tried to be supportive without ever forcing motherhood on me or judging the fact that I wasn't capable of embracing it immediately.

For these reasons, I thought it would be helpful to write about my struggle with PPD from my husband's point of view, so I interviewed him. Here are his responses. He promised me he wouldn't hold back and wouldn't sugar-coat. He assured me he would give real, honest, detailed responses. Breathe Jen. You will get through reading and reliving this.

When did you know something was “off”? What were the signs and what did you do about them?  You started spending more time in bed--about two or three days after we got home from the hospital.  Some of the family had gone home and it was almost like you were putting on a show for them because as soon as they left I noticed something was “off”. I didn’t really know what to do about it. I just felt like I needed to focus on Mason and once I got him settled I could then come be with you. Luckily we still had family (staying for the bris) here so I was able to spend time with both you. 

How did you feel during those months of my postpartum depression struggle? What was it like for you? What is something that sticks out for you or something that you will always remember about that time? You in bed--that is the most recurring memory I have of the PPD. It’s not the memory I like to focus on though.  My memory of that time mostly revolves around the support we had from friends and family.  It wasn’t easy for me.  It was hard to watch you go through this. Going to work didn’t feel right, which is why I would stay home every so often to be with you.    

When did you see a change in me---that I was getting better and back to myself? How did you feel once you could recognize the old Jen you loved and married?  When you started advocating for yourself.  It has always been one of your best traits--that you won’t take crap from anyone and in this case you wouldn’t take crap from yourself. I knew that I didn’t need to push you to seek outside help because when you were ready you would do that on your own.  That being said, I am glad it happened sooner rather than later.

I know how I coped. How did you cope? Did you talk to anyone as an outlet?          I spoke with my dad, mom, brother and sister. I also spoke with your sister, mom and dad. They were all calling to check on Mason and make sure I was doing alright.  You were very good about expressing your feelings to them so I didn’t have to explain what you were going through to them.

Did you ever feel resentment for having to take on so many parenting responsibilities alone?  Absolutely not.  This was not what I expected the first months to be like but it’s not like you were doing it on purpose.   

Did you have any issues with me going on antidepressants?  No issues. I have never had a problem with people using them.  I have been able to see a genuine change in the way people carry themselves when they are on them, off them or on the wrong one.  Knowing that what you were going through was all chemical and hormonal, it was only rational that you would need them. 

What do you wish you could say to me that you never did during that time?  I never held back. I think I told you how proud I was of you more than once.  You started contributing when you were ready and when you hit your limit it was back to bed which was fine. There were times when I was probably ready to react in the wrong way but all of those feelings were gone within a few moments.  The best part of the day was once Mason was down I got to lay down with you.    

I have talked to other moms who suffered from postpartum depression who express that they wish their husbands would “get it” and be more supportive. How were you able to “get it?”  Everything was happening so quickly. I like to think that I wasn’t doing anything more than I would normally. Seeing as this was our first one maybe I didn’t know any different?  Once we really put a name to what you were going through I did do some basic research but I took most of my cues from you.  There were days when you were more active than others.  I took those opportunities to just be ourselves, sit on the couch and eat dinner, open a bottle of wine and our other pre-Mason routines. I essentially treated it as if you were down with an extended flu.

What advice would you give to other dads whose wives are suffering from postpartum depression?  First, acknowledge what PPD is. It’s an illness that requires treatment. It is not as simple as just getting back to the gym or spending more time with the baby. Don’t get frustrated, understand that she doesn’t want to feel this way, and no woman goes into this thinking this will happen. There will be days when you will want to scream, take a break, and even lash out at her for not sharing responsibility or pulling her weight.  It’s alright to have those feelings.  A lot of men tend to keep their feelings and emotions bottled up. In this case that will only have a negative effect on your relationship, your child and mom’s mental health. If you are someone who needs to talk this out then find someone to do that with--it can be a friend, relative or professional.  Most importantly, there should be no feelings of shame or guilt that this is something you caused or brought on your family.

I would like to close this post with one last memory of my supportive husband from this time. As I slowly began to get better, I received a beautiful flower delivery on a random afternoon. I always describe my husband as a man of few words, so reading the words written on the card accompanying his flowers showed me just how much he was routing for me, even if he didn't express it verbally everyday. I share those words with you above (I obviously saved the card as a reminder) and also a photo of our first real date night and selfie from a Bruno Mars Concert.

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A milestone back then when I would start to see myself and find my joy again.

Happy Fathers' Day, Not Babysitter's Day...

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When you go out and leave the kids with your husband and someone asks who is watching them, what do you usually say? I'm pretty sure I always say, "My husband is watching Mason," which is no different than when I tell someone a babysitter is watching him. I hate this more than anything and I do it all the effing time. Sometimes I even find myself explaining to someone how hands on my husband is and how capable he is watching our son without me. As if a mom leaving her child with his dad for extended periods of time is somehow surprising or needs an explanation. When dads spend time with their kids, they are revered and celebrated. "Aww, that's so awesome, your husband can handle the kids." Of course he can fucking handle it. He is their dad after all! When moms do it, it's just expected. It's their job. Why should a dad get a medal just for being an involved parent? Isn't that his job too? I wasn't aware that rewards were given out for doing one's job. Maybe I want a medal too--a really shiny 18 Karat gold medal with the words, "Congratulations, You Parented Today," written in bling.

Other times I wonder if I should feel guilty for leaving Mason with him for a whole day or extended weekend. Or do I need to apologize for coming home late or when Mason only feels like using the word "NO" and constantly melts down while on my husband's time. When my husband comes home Saturday at lunch time exhausted and moody and frustrated from his morning activities with Mason, should I feel bad I was sleeping in, exercising, and writing? I definitely find myself saying, "I'm sorry Mason was in a bad mood for you. I'm sorry you're so tired." But isn't that what kids do? They can be assholes and they wear their parents out, even on a good day.

Just last week, I was in New York City for a family event. My husband and Mason wouldn't be joining me until later in the weekend. At a party, a friend asked me where Mason was and I said my husband would be bringing him later. I also remember saying that I felt bad that he was pretty much glorified babysitter for the weekend. Her response? "Jen, he's not a babysitter. He's his dad."  And she is right.

So you know what I say to all of the above? FUCK THAT! Because my husband isn't a babysitter. He is my son's dad and when he does things like spend time alone with our son because I have an appointment, girls' dinner, take a weekend trip away or just need a break, it's called parenting. It's what he's supposed to do! It's what I expect him to do. I am always appreciative and I always say thank you because I am thankful for the relationship my husband has with our son and we all want to feel appreciated. But you won't see me buying him presents or giving him extra blowjobs just for being a parent.

Now if he surprised me with a plane ticket and told me he was sending me to the spa or an island for the weekend while he took care of Mason, there would probably be some extra BJS in it for him when I returned pampered and relaxed.

So today's post is in honor of my husband, the father (not the male babysitter who lives with us) of my amazing three-year old son. The dad who parents like its his job, and does it like a boss! The dad who changed our son's very first poop diaper in the hospital. The dad who stepped up immediately because mommy had postpartum depression and couldn't. The dad who switches off with me getting up in the middle of the night when our son is crying from a bad dream. The dad who handles bath time because it's just not my favorite time. And by then, I'm half-passed out on the couch drinking or drooling while reruns of Modern Family play on the TV.  The dad who wakes up every Saturday morning with our son, takes him for breakfast, to play soccer, to the car wash, to watch the trains, and to play at the park. The dad who never complains about single parenting when mommy needs a girls' night or a few days away to herself. The dad who is my equal partner in this fabulous, crazy shit-show and emotional rollercoaster we call parenthood.

We had a wonderful day yesterday celebrating most of the dad's in our lives. I say most because we are in New York, while my father in law is down South and he always deserves to be celebrated as the incredible, generous, loving father and grandfather that he is. We started the day waking up at my moms and having breakfast with my wonderful stepfather. Mason helped my mom and stepdad cook pancakes, set the table, and clean up. Then we drove to my dad's for a late lunch where I got to watch Mason and him play on the golf course and drive the golf cart around. We ended the day at my mother in law's with Papa, Mason's great grandfather. There is nothing more special than watching your child spend time with your parents (their grandparents) doing the things you used to enjoy together when you were that little and seeing them pass them down to your own children.

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And let's not forget the amazing Father's Day gift I gave my husband. A remote control shaped cookie and written on the tag, "Okay, you can have the remote. Happy Father's Day!" Of course I added a disclaimer that the offer wasn't valid between the hours of 9pm and 10pm...because you know...Game of Thrones: Battle of the Bastards.

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And maybe going forward, I will stop apologizing, explaining, and feeling guilty for leaving Mason to hang out with his dad. It's just part of the job description. And he signed up for it! We both did...together.