Saturday, February 23, 2013

Field notes from nine years of parenting

With Beanie on her first night at home, 2004.

Beanie is nine years old.

On the occasion of her birthday, I want to say a little something about what parenting has taught me about my husband, myself, and the two of us.

First, about my husband. This is what he is not:

  • One of those eternally boyish and playful guys who bounds around with earnest enthusiasm about being a dad. A word that we had to teach Beanie fairly early in her life was sarcastic. As in, "You know when your dad is making a joke that he seems to think is funny, but that you kind of feel like might not be funny after all, even if you could understand it? That is him being sarcastic."
  • From that tribe of weekend warriors. He is all about TGIM (Thank God It's Monday).
  • One of those fathers who helps out and occasionally baby sits. This is because he is fully and equally the other parent. When the kids wake in the middle of the night, Beanie with bad dreams or Bubbie with a nosebleed, they go to him, not me, and he sings to her or sits with our son on his lap until the bleeding stops.

Second, about myself: If my husband were anyone or anything other than who and what he is, then I could not even remotely be the person, woman, mother, friend, anthropologist, etc., that I am or at least try to be.

Third, about the two of us: Our egalitarianism is more practical than it is idealistic. We are full and equal partners because our life simply will not otherwise compute: 2 academics + 2 kids = 2 much. If I drop off kids in the morning, then he picks them up after school. In between, we each go to our campus offices and answer our students' emails and prep and teach our classes and work our writing into the moments lining the meetings that we have to attend for the committees that we serve on. At home, he cooks and then cleans afterward. I wash and fold the laundry. He remembers birthdays. I shop for gifts.

A lot is said about getting fathers more involved with parenting their children, but I think a lot more still needs to be said about getting men more involved in their partnering. What makes my husband a full and equal parent is rooted as much from his commitment to me as to our children.

So, this makes Beanie's birthday an occasion to celebrate not only nine years of our daughter, but nine years of us.

Happy birthday!

StraightMan with Bubbie and Beanie, 2008

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