Wednesday, 6 June 2012
"Good Parent" Role Reversal
I had a very interesting realization this morning as I lay in bed listening to Christopher getting the kids ready for school, I like being the "good" parent. For the last week (since my surgery) I have been the "secondary" parent in this house. Christopher has been the heavy. He has been the disciplinarian, the one who makes lunches, does chores, shuttles the kids around.... I may not trade back. I like speaking to the kids in a serene loving voice all of the time. I am enjoying doling out my attention, hugs and snuggles, it's pretty nice.
In normal life I am the "main" parent. Often with Christopher's schedule, or lack there of (he's a funeral director who works for a family business and is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) I feel like a single parent. I am the parent who gets them ready for school in the morning, he has to get himself ready for work. I am the one who disciplines them. I am the one who shuttles them around to doctors appointments, sporting events, friends houses, who the teachers call to help on class trips and activities. I am the one who makes treats to take for class. In other words I run this house, sometimes with an iron fist to make sure that things run smoothly. As I lay in bed and did some calculations, on an average week Christopher spends approximately 32 waking hours a week with the kids. That breaks down to 3 hours a day on school days, 17 hours on week-ends. On the school schedule I spend 59 waking hours a week with the big kids. On holidays and in the summer that turns into 84 waking hours a week (84 hours a week is what I spend with Elly). This number does not count for injuries or sickness and then that number gets higher.
Christopher is the "good guy". He is the one who gives airplane rides. He give shoulder rides. He is the guy who does tag team wrestling. He is the fun guy. When the kids see him walking home they drop what they are doing and run to him screaming "DADDY". I can only imagine what this would to for my self esteem. Riley asked me one day "Would it hurt your feelings if Daddy was my favourite?" ahh yes, yes it would was what my brain said, my mouth said "no". I then, being me countered it with "Would it hurt your feelings if I told you that Rowan was my favourite?"......"MOM!" At our house Daddy is the favourite, and honestly why wouldn't he be? There was a time (it seems like eons ago) that I was a working mom. When I got home from work I did not want to discipline Gabe, I hadn't seen him all day, I felt guilty that I was not there, and more than anything else, I didn't have the energy. I let him away with quite a bit when I was working. I also know that it feels much better to be "The Favourite", and it's easier to let the other parent be the heavy.
There are many times that the childish me wants to yell at them "BUT I'm the one who sacrifices everything for you!" "I'm the one who would walk through fire for you, I would give my life for you!" "Who do you want when you're sick or hurt? Who do you want when you're sad? Who is the one that all the kids in your class say that they wish was their mom?" "Who is the parent that you wanted to deal with the bull teacher? It wasn't Daddy, no you wanted you tiger mother to make him cry!"
I say none of this. I think one day they will see it.... I hope that one day they will see and appreciate the sacrifices that I make for them.
I know how important it is for them to have a strong male role model. In some ways a strong male role model effects their emotional well being as an adult more than a loving mother does. Rowan needs to have role model. He needs to learn how to behave as a man. Christopher is an excellent father. He is loving and patient and fun. I want Rowan to grow up to be like his father, if he grows up to be like his father he will be a good man. I want my girls to see how their father treats me, treats them. He is a good provider. He is a physically strong man, he is an emotionally strong man, and at the same time gentle and kind. If my girls use their father as a role model when they pick husbands, they will have happy marriages, happy lives. I know all of this. I just want to share the love sometimes.
For the time being I will bask in the warm sunshine of "the good" parent. I will sit back and enjoy being the person who is not in charge of discipline. For the next week, I am only in charge of hugs and snuggles. For the next week I do not need to raise my voice, I will not get frustrated with them. I can use the kind and gentle voice that I always feel, and wish I could always use. In other words I will treasure this vacation.