I spent last weekend in Las Vegas with my girlfriends. There were the usual shenanigans—the nightclubs, the blackjack tables, the midnight selfies by the fountain at the Bellagio.
When I arrived home, a smidgen hungover, I was greeted by the following:
- Dental floss stuck to the iPad
- Crazy glue on the kitchen counter
- Two empty boxes of frozen waffles, presumed eaten
- Two bags of salad greens, untouched
- The vacuum cleaner in pieces in the back yard.
As a stay-at-home mom, I often feel entitled to make fun of my husband. How he can’t find anything. How he crams unfolded clothes into already full drawers. How he lets the kids eat toast in the bathtub.
Thus, I was not terribly surprised when I returned from Vegas and found household mayhem and shoddy nutrition. After all, it is not often that my husband is home alone for days with all three kids.
What I hadn’t counted on were the other discoveries:
- The garage, cleaned and reorganized
- The kitchen floor, swept of Rice Krispies and dog hair
- The kids’ homework folders, emptied and signed
- Three children wearing the same clothes I left them in two days ago, but happy.
That last one, I actually had anticipated. My husband may be unorthodox, but he is a great dad.
I know far too many “put-upon mommies.” Wives who begin every conversation complaining how useless their husbands are. I hardly ever get to go anywhere. My husband never cooks dinner. This gig is exhausting. I have been guilty of this bellyaching, too.
But here’s the thing—it was half my fault. Maybe more. Because when my spouse did help out, I told him he was doing it wrong:
“Lizzie doesn’t like strawberry jam on her sandwich.”
“You can’t put Tupperware lids on the bottom rack of the dishwasher.”
“Henry gets too hot in that blue onesie.”
“Just let me do it.”
When I did slip out for an evening, I would keep one eye on the phone, dashing off a few texts about where the extra diapers were, or how the baby liked the soft, green blankie best. I would tell my friends, “My husband is babysitting tonight,” and make sure not to be out too late.
But my husband is not a babysitter. These are our kids. His and mine. And we are both capable of caring for them. During my shifts with the kids, there are often so many toys on the floor that my husband cannot open the front door. And during his shifts, I sometimes have to scrape super glue off the counters. But the kids are all right.
I married my husband because he is smart, funny, and great in the sack. That’s how we ended up with these kids. What would it say about our marriage if I didn’t trust him—100 percent—to care for them whether I am around or not?
Besides, Daddy at home means Mommy gets to play.
Ladies, let’s gather for our own poker nights. Let’s plan more Hen weekends. We don’t all need to go to the pumpkin farm or the children’s museum. Sometimes Dad can take the kids himself. He might not pack the same vegetables for a snack. He might need to make a quick stop at Walgreens when the baby poops in the car seat. But Dad can do it.
Here’s to the husbands out there, the sexy, abundantly capable fellows who won our hearts with their charms, and keep our hearts when they vacuum.
They are the fathers of our children. Let’s let them be.
Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh is a mother, teacher, and dog lover, an above-average cook and below-average housekeeper. Follow her at DadvMom.com