Father Time is a weekly column dedicated to the concept of time in a parent’s life, particularly a father’s life. The point of view comes from a father of two young sons, both under three-years-old, and how time really is just that: a concept.
One afternoon on a long drive home, I found the Dr. Laura radio show and heard a caller asking for advice on how to get her husband to be more willing to care for the kids, so the wife could have some free time. Ironically, the caller defended her husband, saying it’s better that she take care of them so he doesn’t get upset.
This was when Dr. Laura called a loud and clear ‘bullshit’. The wife in the relationship, per Dr. Laura, has every right to directly hand over the kids to Dad when he arrives at home from work on the weekdays, plus, the wife can and should say when she’s going out of the house any other time, and feel empowered to tell her husband he’s on for the night or the afternoon.
Like her or not, Dr. Laura cuts right to truth of the matter, and though it might hurt at first, she’s actually right. As I listened, I found myself agreeing with Dr. Laura. I wanted, like Dr. Laura wanted for the caller, for her to stand up to her husband, and get him to do his most basic job: father.
This conversation reminded me what our wives—the mothers of our children—need most: our time. They need our time when we’re all together as a family, and they also need their alone time (i.e. away-from-the-kids time), which means we as fathers have to buck up and manage it all without mommy from time to time.
Yes, more husbands are doing this already. SAHD’s are the new normal. Yet, women still are, biologically (and socially seen as) the primary caregiver. Women are the literal life blood of our [infant] children with the ability to feed them in a way men simply cannot.
That was much of the reason why I, who once thought he was SuperDad, had a ton of anxiety the first time my wife needed to leave the house for alone time, and left me with our two-year-old and still-nursing 4-month old. I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it because I didn’t have the ability to feed my little one. But, as I quickly remembered, bottles were invented for a reason. Plus, I know how to put kids down for a nap. I admit I had amnesia those first few times my wife went out, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t hear Dr. Laura in my ear, reminding me to just get over it.
Plain and simple: our wives, our partners, our co-parents, need the gift of our time. They need time away from us—Dad—and the little angels. They just do. Or vice-versa if you, Dad, are the primary caregiver and Mom is the out-of-the-home worker.
As we dwell here in the fleeting last moments of the year, when time does seem to slow down, just a bit, let’s resolve to give that gift. Let’s consistently give our wives, whenever they want, the best date night of all—out with the girls, or better still, all by themselves.
Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker.