Admit it. You’re jealous. The jealousy runs deep, and you’ve often wondered what he’s got that you haven’t got. Is it the effortless and adventurous personality he exudes? Or maybe it’s his confidence.
No, I’m not talking about the life-of-the-party guy or the popular co-worker, who always has a good story to tell. I’m talking about dads.
Dads march to the beat of their own drum. And I love it. But I didn’t fully understand it at first. Coming home to a chaotic shitstorm as my husband plays with the kids, seemingly unaware of the mess he’s made of the house or the 10 different ways this game of indoor tag could go wrong, used to set me off. And he would get an earful.
But at some point in our parenting journey, I stopped bitching at him to be more like me as a parent and started learning from him instead. As if an episode of National Geographic, I’ve watched dads from afar in their natural environment. And here’s what I have observed:
Dads think best case scenario
When a kid asks to try something new, dads seem to be much better at saying yes. Moms tend to think about what could go wrong, whereas dads think about how things will go right.
As a new parent, my knee-jerk reaction was “No.” Maybe I wasn’t confident about how a situation would play out. Or maybe I wasn’t sure my kid’s skill level was up to the challenge. I’d ask myself, “Could this end up in tears (for the kid or me)?” I was asking the wrong question.
Dads expect a positive outcome and adjust if things go south. I find myself saying yes much more, and my anxiety about what-if scenarios has decreased immensely. As I test out this Dad approach, I find I’m more at ease and can celebrate the experience instead of worrying about things that haven’t happened.
Dads go with the flow
Dads don’t plan the day in advance, scroll through Pinterest for kid activities, or check the weather ahead of time. They just make the best of what’s in front of them. They think on their toes and come up with imaginative, kid-led activities.
Their first instinct is to pull the mattress off the bed and use it as a wrestling mat. While I may lean towards a more planned out day, I no longer hyper-schedule every waking moment with organized activities. It’s fun to let the kids lead the way and enjoy their unlimited and wild imagination.
Dads have fashion freedom
Getting kids dressed equals a battle for Mom-me. One child refuses to stop playing, while the other has an opinion about every single article of clothing they may or may not put on for the day. It’s maddening.
When dad’s in charge, everything gets simplified. They either stay in their PJs all day or run around half naked. On occasion, I’ve come home to kids in bib overalls and Birthday suits. Not only has dad shaved off 30 minutes of his day, he avoided a battle, and the kids are happy.
Now that’s some Dadness I can get behind.
Dads see past the shit
I admire a dad’s ability to let shit go. When I ask my husband for a rundown of his day with the kids, he almost always says, “It went great.” No complaining, no negativity.
We all know he didn’t get through it without a meltdown or two. But he focuses on the fun parts and dismisses those shitty my-kid-is-an-asshole moments.
This skill is still a work in progress for me, but hey – baby steps.
Dads parent guilt-free
I don’t often hear dads second guessing their parenting decisions. They make the best choice in that moment and roll with it. That doesn’t mean they don’t learn from their mistakes. They just don’t stew on them or feel guilty about them. And they certainly don’t give a shit about what other parents might think about their decisions.
Sure, maybe serving bread, and only bread, for dinner three nights in a row isn’t the best choice, but the kids are fed and a quick meal means more time to spend together. And yes, we can all agree that kids need a good night’s rest. But dads know that neither kids nor parents will remember the times the kids went to bed on time. What we will remember is that time we played flashlight tag in the dark until 10 p.m.
Do I wish my husband could keep the house from imploding in a matter of minutes? Sure. But I see the strengths he brings to the parenting table, and I’m determined to incorporate more of them in my day-to-day. I will say yes more and go with the flow, let go of anxiety and see the joy in the day instead of fixating on frustrations.
So the next time you feel overwhelmed, lost, or just need some parent inspiration, embrace your inner Dad and see what happens.