She was a mom who had every hair in place, her seven children were immaculately groomed and well behaved, and her house sparkled. She was organized, beautiful, and loved the Lord. One of the older children informed me “I love our home because it is always happy.” But this beautiful woman told us as a young mother she struggled with her role as a mother.
Particularly, she said, she found that even when her husband was home, she kept control of the children. She didn’t want him bothered after a hard day at work, so she ran interference when the children misbehaved. If he was in the other room feeding or bathing a child, and the child was crying, she would rush into the room and take over. She made all of the home school decisions (even though she dutifully allowed her husband to have the “final say.” What stopped her was the realization that her actions were preventing her husband from developing relationships with the children, and that as they grew older, they were more obviously needing their dad’s input.
This talk was given years ago, but I remember it well. I’ve been thinking about ways that I can help Lee make the most of the time that he spends with the children. I don’t want to hinder his interactions with them. Since I’m with the children all day, I can share knowledge with him that will be helpful as he talks with them. I can deny myself the pleasure of cleaning up the dinner dishes with him so he can play with the kids before bed. Life is full of challenges, isn’t it? Cleaning up by myself is one of the hardest choices I can make, but I think it’s a good one for now.
It is difficult. My husband works swing shift, and when he was/is working nights or coming off of night shift, he does not want to be bothered. He tells me to handle things. But then, when he’s doing better, I’ve got to be able to shift gears back to allowing him to handle things. Each family has its own set of difficulties to overcome, to maintain relationships.
There really is a tension there, because I know that most husbands (including mine!) aren’t keen on dealing with children issues after work. And if the husband says, “Deal with it all” during a stressful time, then I think there’s really only one option there.
I’m really thinking though how I can first, eliminate any obstacles to allow Lee to flourish in his role as head of our household, obstacles like asking him to help with the dishes instead of allowing him to play with the children. I’m also considering how too often, I take control of discipline issues when he’s home. I do know that my husband would be fine with that, for the most part. But I am also considering how my actions limit his influence in the lives of our children. Instead of doing all the discipline, I can take the time to share some patterns of behavior with him, my concerns, and how I’ve been dealing with the problem. That way he will be aware of those situations, and when he sees them he’ll understand the greater context he doesn’t always have the benefit of seeing. He can also correct or give additional suggestions for dealing with these issues.