My husband is the youngest child from a family of six. He was the last of his siblings to marry and the last to have a child. We have a collection of 21 nieces and nephews just from his side of the family who range in age from 18 to age 2, so we have a great mix of everything from potty training to choosing a college. While my husband and his siblings were young, my father-in-law had a job that required weeks of traveling each year, so my mother-in-law not only delivered six children into the world, she also functioned as a single parent for many weeks at a time during their young lives. My point in all of this is to say that if there was ever a family that should have good parenting advice, I most certainly married into it!
The best piece of advice given to me, the one thing all moms should know, came from my sister-in-law. Her counsel: Let your husband help, even if he does not do it your way. Her eight years of motherhood had reinforced this wise counsel time and again and I am so thankful she passed it on to me. I wish I could say that the five years of marriage my husband and I enjoyed before having our first child had taught me enough about respecting my husband to know that, but alas, they did not. I share this advice with you because, like me, you may very well need to hear those words! I wish I could share a cup of tea with you as I relay this important truth, but since that is not easily possible, I will repeat it, so you make sure you get it: Let your husband help, even if he does not do it your way.
Maybe you can relate to this: I began caring for children at a very young age. I was raised in a family where life stopped so we could dote on babies. We frequently had babies and young children in our home and from the day I was given my first baby doll I loved every second of it. By sixth grade I was routinely entrusted with the lives of multiple small children at a time, with no adult supervision. As someone who now works with middle and high school students on a weekly basis, this is astounding to me now! I love every one of my students, but there is no way I would trust most of them with my precious toddler. As crazy as leaving a 12-year-old alone with my son sounds today, sixteen years ago people trusted 12-year-old me to do that job and I babysat often. The summer before I started seventh grade I watched a 5 year-old for 40 hours each week.
My husband, on the other hand, did not have these experiences. He became an uncle at the ripe old age of eleven, so babies were frequent guests in his middle school life as well. However, “uncle-ing” and babysitting are two different things. Despite witnessing over a million diaper changes in his life, until the night our son was born, my husband had never actually changed a diaper.
And he certainly does not change diapers the same way I change diapers. He frequently comments, “I know you would use less wipes” over his shoulder, if I happen to be within earshot while he changes a diaper. But do you know what? The end result is exactly the same: a clean baby tushy and a fresh diaper to contain the next eruption. What else matters when it comes to changing a diaper? Is this really something I want to pick a fight with my husband over? Do I really want to go to bed angry at my spouse over a baby who has a clean bum?
But I bet like me, someone else out there has started this argument. I bet someone else out there — probably someone other than you — has let this silly dispute ruin a nice family day or even a family vacation. It is so easy to criticize, but are you really willing to damage your marriage over a job got that done — just not exactly the way you would have done it?
Even as I write this tonight, my husband is bathing our son. The squeals and splashes echo down the hall to where I sit writing. I know full well that the pick-4-toys-for-the-bath policy may not have been enforced, so there will likely be ten gazillion toys to clean up. Our toddler’s ears may not have been cleaned out tonight and there will be no lotion on the baby after his bath (because Daddy doesn’t like having greasy hands that smell like a baby). But you know what? We have a clean kiddo, a father and son who got to bond and play together, and a momma who got to enjoy 20 minutes on the couch. Win, win, win!
Moms, I humbly pass this wise counsel on the you: Let your husband help, even if he does not do it the same way you would. Tease him once and you may lose your best relief pitcher. Thank him once and you may gain a forever sidekick.