Two dads walk in their wife’s shoes and discover the awesomeness that is a mom
Mother’s Day is upon us. And I can think of no better way for us dads to honour moms than to try walk in their shoes, and living to tell the tale.
This year my wife was recovering from an operation. For 3 weeks, I tried to fill the mom-void which included reading and skillfully responding to each child’s emotional gauge, getting up 10 or more times a night (5 kids all 7 and under do a lot of waking up), tons of school drops off and pick ups, liaising with the school and fellow-moms about extra things to do and bring and attend, endless sibling-conflict interventions and ensuring all tummies are filled three times a day – but not with too much wheat or sugar.
To be fair, my diligent wife Julie created a roster of support that made it much more bearable. But still I was struck by two things: 1) how awesome my wife is. She also has a career and yet daily incorporates all these functions into her already crazy-busy life. 2) how much these thankless, mom-typical functions help to build the bond with your kids that moms tend to have. I never felt closer to my kids than when I made so many daily sacrifices for them. Thankless job it may be, but the reward is a heart-deep connection with these little ones, even though most of the time you’re too tired to appreciate it.
My experiment only lasted 3 weeks. Which is nothing next to my lawyer-buddy and earlier guest-blogger Grant Clark, father of 3, who is five months into a similar venture. The reason? His wife Jacqui is doing her second Master degree. She leaves the home everyday at 6 and returns 12 hours later, ready for another 3 hours of work at home – leaving Grant to be the full-time mom over and above the demands of his law firm.
Grant, in an unusual and extended introduction to a message he recently brought to our faith community, told us what it’s like to walk in mom’s shoes. Let me quote at length his piece, which brought some of us to tears with belly laughter…
‘With Jax out of play this year, I am a first-time mom. I am learning so many things. By the end of the year I will be the most employable man in the country. Because I will be the only man who can multi-task! For example, even while I stand here speaking to you, I am thinking, ‘Did I turn off the coffee pot before I left home?’. And I am also thinking, ‘Do these jeans make my bum look big?’ See! Multi-tasking! Amazing is what it is.
What is the deal with being a mom? I was at a party the other day – because that’s what us moms do. And I was telling everyone what I had done for my family this week and I finished the sentence with, ‘Who does this?’
One of the other moms was forced to say the obvious: ‘Us moms do! Every week.’
This is my complaint with being a mom. I am not ungrateful for being a mom, but you spend your entire day rushing around doing stuff, but at the end of it you expect to see something. But what do I have to show for it?
If I was a painter, I would have a Mona Liza to show for that amount of effort and time, but as it is I have nothing to show for it – the same kids who were hungry in the morning are hungry in the evening. They wanted to disown me in the morning but still want to disown me in the evening. I have achieved nothing. I don’t understand it. But moms just keep going – moms are angels of heaven!
So you moms are saints, which is why you have to help me with this … The same moms I can sit with at a party and have a cup of tea and it’s all nice, those same moms the moment they are behind the wheel in the school parking lot become some kind of servant of Satan!
The school parking lot. I think of the ruthless vengeance in Russell Crowe in Gladiator (“I am the father of a murdered child, and I will have my vengeance”). That plays out not just in ancient Rome, but in the school parking lot. In fact, I am convinced that in my kids’ school parking lot the Taxi drivers come to train.
The parking lot is a terrifying place. In the first term I was a newby. I was defenceless. But now I carry around my Pepper Spray. My policy? I spray first and ask questions later.
Unless my kids are in the car. When they are in the car, it’s awkward because I am terrified and they can smell fear. They see things, and they ask questions. The other day my 5 year old asks me, ‘Dad, why is that lady over there waving at you with one finger?’ As the mom trying to shield my children from the dark side of life, I have to think quick – what to say, hm, what to say. Then it comes to me. ‘Honey, she thinks Daddy is number 1! Daddy is number 1!’
She quickly retorts, ‘Ah dad, well that other lady over there thinks you are number 2!’
Julie and Jax, from Grant and I – trying to walk in your shoes has given us firsthand evidence for the thankless and exhausting fetching and feeding, planning and pleading, love and listening, sacrifice and serving, multi-tasking and mopping up, tenderness and blood-sweat-and-tears-tenacity that you heap upon our very very lucky children. Day after day. Year after year.
Having tried to walk in them, not only are we in awe of the shoes you wear, but to think they have heels too! Thank you moms for all the thanklessness you endure.
Also published on Medium.