Pants. The reason my husband is a great dad to our 2 boys comes down to pants. One Saturday, I went to get our toddler out of his crib after his nap. “Did you put these sweatpants on him?” I asked my husband, since I had dressed Riley in jeans that morning.
“Yeah. It’s so uncomfortable sleeping in jeans,” C. replied.
My heart grew a few sizes that day, people. It DOES suck to sleep in jeans. I always changed the kids into comfortable pants before I put them down for their naps. I’m not so control-freakish about it that I would instruct my husband to do so, though. But as it turns out, I didn’t need to – he is just as tuned in to our sons’ needs as I am, and perfectly capable of picking out a pair of pants himself.
[To this day, Riley requests “soft pants” regularly, even though he doesn’t always nap anymore. And really, can you blame him? I’ve been known to change into my pajama pants at 6pm, so desperate am I to peel off those sausage-casings we call skinny jeans.]
Speaking of pants, there’s another dad-related story I’d like to share about C. He took our older son to swim lessons one morning. That scene is pure chaos, let me tell you. Wet kids, clothes, towels, everywhere. C. returned an hour or so later looking flustered, with Miles wearing a towel wrapped around his waist. “I lost his pants!” C. exclaimed. “Don’t ask me how, but when I went to get him dressed, his pants were gone from the locker where I left them.”
I thought it was funny. Of course he didn’t lose a sock or something inconsequential. He lost his PANTS! I was hardly concerned about a missing pair of Old Navy sweatpants, though. Someone probably grabbed them by accident. No biggie.
But I could see that for my husband, this was a bigger issue. You know how we moms beat ourselves up when we forget to sign a permission slip or our kid’s the only one not wearing the right color shirt to the school pep rally? “Mom of the Year, that’s me,” we remark ruefully, sure we’ve scarred our kids for life because of our ineptitude. Well, C. seemed to be experiencing a little taste of that parental guilt. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
I hear moms say all the time that they wish their husbands would take on more responsibility for the kids. I know some dads who’ve never taken their kids anywhere by themselves, ever. My husband packs lunches, takes the boys to the gym and the pool with him, has even hosted a playdate or 2 solo. Does he do everything exactly the way I would? (That is, the “right” way?) No, he doesn’t. And again, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. (He cuts the boys’ sandwiches into fun shapes and lets them put sprinkles on their pancakes, something I can’t be bothered to do.)
The best proof that C. is a great dad is probably that neither of our kids is a “Mama’s boy” or a “Daddy’s boy.” They go through phases, sure, but for the most part I’d say they prefer us both equally. Unless it’s time to wrestle or throw water balloons. I don’t think there’s one right way to be a great dad. I don’t think fathers have to be perfect or have a cool job or like sports or host tea parties to be a great dad. They just have to be there for their kids, pants or no pants.
Happy Father’s Day, dads! You deserve it!
GIFT O’ THE DAY: My gift to my husband this year is an ENTIRE 3-DAY WEEKEND on his own with his sons while I attend a family wedding solo. I know, I’m such a thoughtful wife.
READ O’ THE DAY: There’s a lot to discuss in this article by Malia Jacobson on Equally Shared Parenting (yes, that’s a thing now, with an acronym, even: ESP). I like how she differentiates between “equal” and “equitable.”