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Daddy Daycare?

Major Martino hangs out with a group of men, including father Kyle Martino beside the pool at their Connecticut home

This post is about something that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently– something that has been a huge shift in my own family in the past year and half: The role of men as caretakers for children.  As you may or may not know, before a year and a half ago, Kyle and I basically lived separately.  He worked out of Stamford, Connecticut and we lived in Los Angeles– he would spend four days out of every week on the East Coast.  Meanwhile, I was back on the West Coast with our child.  It was not the ideal circumstance.  Kyle and Marlowe didn’t have much of a relationship.  Of course they loved each other to pieces, and would spend as much quality time as possible on the days he was home, but Marlowe definitely considered me her primary parent.  Every scraped knee, head bonk, cold, or bad dream– she would call for Mama, not Daddy.

Major Martino hangs out with a group of men, including father Kyle Martino beside the pool at their Connecticut home

And if I’m being totally honest, I didn’t really expect more from him than that.  I just assumed that I knew her routine better than him, the ins and outs of her likes and dislikes, her fears and favorites.  Instead of challenging him to take over whenever he was home (and allowing him to learn), I bore the brunt of it all– and had him take over a task here or there.  I was burnt out from being the “primary caretaker” (and working a job at the same time), and if I’m being totally honest, a little resentful too.  I had made this bed where everything revolved around ME knowing everything that had to be done with our child… and so I had to lay in it.  I rarely got a “break”.  At the time, I just thought that was going to be Kyle’s Daddy role, and that my role as Mom was going to be the more intense one.  A lot of friends of mine had a similar dynamic, so I didn’t really see the alternative.  When I was growing up, most people around me had the same thing going on, too:  Mom figured out what everyone was going to eat for the meals of the day, administered vitamins, got everyone dressed, packed the suitcases, took the kids to the birthday parties and doctor appointments, checked off the items on the school materials lists, you know– the non fun kid task things that nobody really wants to do.  Those were all Mom things.  At least as far as I remembered. But what I was living now was a parenting dynamic that was making me exhausted, spread thin, and resentful.  “Isn’t that how all Moms feel?” I asked myself.  Whenever I saw or heard of a Dad who was the primary caretaker of their own child, I marveled at it like a unicorn.  “What a great guy!” I’d say to whoever was nearby “So sweet that he’s like that with his kids!”

Major Martino hangs out with a group of men, including father Kyle Martino beside the pool at their Connecticut home

When we moved back East last spring, I was suddenly pregnant and living in a new place with my toddler.  I was working more than ever, and with Kyle totally present for the first time since Marlowe was born I just didn’t have any more excuses for why I had to run the show when it came to our child.  I was forced to dole out some responsibility to Kyle.  At first it was little by little, and then slowly grew in to them spending entire days together with him in charge.  I had a work trip and a wedding, and Kyle took over both of those times.  During the wedding weekend I was away, Marlowe got the worst stomach virus she’s had to date and almost had to be hospitalized– and her Dad handled it all with such grace and care.  With each passing day, Marlowe’s relationship with her Dad grew and grew.  She started to run to him when she fell or was scared as much as she ran to me.  I started recognizing Kyle’s abilities as a father even more.  I had always considered him an amazing father– so loving, kind, a provider, patient.  But now there was so much more– as he took on more responsibilities with Lowie, I could see his potential unfurling.  It was a beautiful thing to watch.  I could tell that his new relationship with Marlowe was also doing so much for Kyle and his self esteem as a father.  By the time Major was born, Kyle was taking on so much more of the parenting– and not just the good stuff.  The annoying things, too.  The challenges alongside the more fun things that I had always considered “Dad things”.  He was taking it all in stride, and our kids were flourishing.

Major Martino hangs out with a group of men, including father Kyle Martino beside the pool at their Connecticut home

Suddenly, I realized it was me who had been the problem.  The old-fashioned tropes about Fathers being more secondary parents had been coloring the vision of what I felt my husband was capable of as a father.  And I had totally been selling him short.  He was (and is) just as capable of being “everything” to our children as I am.  It made me think so much about how culture can effect the lens through which we parent.  Sometimes, I think, it’s important to sit for a moment and ask ourselves why we believe the things we believe to be true.  Where did we learn them, or see them? Kyle and I have quite a few close friends and family members in our lives that are same-sex male couples with children.  There are no Mothers in these families, obviously! Watching these two-father families with their kids drives this point home to me even more.  I watch the children of these couples and see how perfect they are, how they want for nothing emotionally, how well they are cared for– and it is such a light bulb moment for me.  Of course a man can be just as whole of a parent as a woman can.

Major Martino hangs out with a group of men, including father Kyle Martino beside the pool at their Connecticut home

I wonder sometimes how much we are selling the fathers in our culture short. I’ve often been in groups of women in a social gathering when one will mention in passing that their husband “is babysitting” the kids for the evening.  I’ve used the term “Daddy Daycare” myself on multiple occasions.  Jokingly, but maybe not SO jokingly. I think it goes without saying that a man is never “babysitting” their own children– caring for them is a normal parental responsibility.  Right? I’ve totally been guilty of perpetuating this stereotype, but I think I’ve realized that it is perhaps more damaging than I’ve given it credit for.

I’m curious to hear from you– do you find yourself assuming that Fathers fall more in to a “secondary parent” category– or do you have a spouse or father in your life who has always assumed a primary parent or true co-parent role? I’m so interested in continuing this conversation– I think sometimes we don’t realize how long it’s been since we have shifted our thinking to a new time with new expectations!

 

(These images are of some of the men in my children’s lives…hanging with Major boy! I hope he grows up expecting a lot of himself as a male caretaker.  He has some great examples!)

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59 Comments

  1. Nora says:

    Really enjoyed reading this. I always joke that my husband is like our son’s second mother, he’s so tender and loving with him. There’s really no parental task that he shies away from. He was recently away on a two week work trip and FaceTimed with our three year old every day. I’m pretty sure he missed our son as much as I would have. Having this be the opposite of the dad that was mostly absent from my life it’s such a beautiful thing to witness. We both really lucked out!
    Also, I think that when fathers step up it allows mothers to be/ do their best.

    08.10.17Reply
  2. Brianne says:

    I love this post! Reading it I even started to tear up because this is exactly how I’m feeling most of the time. My husband is a great father, but I am with my 14 month old daughter the majority of the time, so I always refer to myself as her “primary caretaker”. This past weekend was the first time I have ever left her overnight with my husband alone since she was born. I decided to have some girl time with my sister. It was some much needed relaxation for mommy. While I did leave plenty of instructions for my husband, he still did his own things with her and they had a great weekend. I realized I have to let go of that feeling of needing to do everything, and let him take over when he’s home from work. And he might not do everything exactly the way I would, but that’s okay too. Thank you so much for this post. I totally needed to hear this to realize I was doing the exact same thing you were. In fact, tonight, daddy is taking over bathtime! 😁

    08.10.17Reply
  3. Mel G says:

    My husband is a great father…. when I’m not around! He’ll cook and do whatever else is needed, baths, bedtime, no problems. But when I’m home too? L.A.Z.Y! Sits on his behind, or does his own thing. The only way I can get him to step up to the parenting plate is to specifically ask/tell him to do something. UGH!

    08.10.17Reply
  4. Michelle C says:

    Yes! Thank you for this post. When my daughter was a newborn I considered myself the ‘gatekeeper’ of all things having to do with her. My husband of course was willing to help, but I would only take him up on it if I needed a quick shower, run to the store by myself etc. Now she is almost two and we have switched around our work schedules so that he is with her most mornings while I work and it was the best decision we ever made. It taught me to loosen up and let him take on the responsibility, and it has strengthened their relationship SO much. Now I rarely even check in on them while I’m at work because I am 100% confident in him as a caregiver. I know that this choice we have made is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our little girl and it has really lifted some pressure off me too! I even signed them up for a morning music class and my seeet hubby is the only dude amongst a sea of mamas and nannies. Love your perspective on things and willingness to challenge the status quo! -Michelle

    08.10.17Reply
  5. Nicole says:

    Beautiful truths you’ve laid out today! I so enjoy following you and your family. Your kiddos are precious! Thanks for being open, honest, real, hilarious and eager to share the ins and outs of daily life with such vulnerability and grace 🙂

    08.10.17Reply
  6. Chelsea says:

    Love this! For me it was so hard to accept that my daughter and I would ever be apart after I gave birth. It was a huge source of anxiety to think that the baby I carried for 9 months would eventually need to be cared for by other people even my husband! It wasn’t until this last week that I spent more than a couple hours away from my daughter (she’s 15 months) Even still I made my husband bring her to me so I could see her and break up the day and I realized I have been holding my husband back as a father. I got home that evening and saw all the videos and photos from their day together and realized that while my husband doesn’t step up as much as I would like when I’m around I also jump in and do most tasks simply because I think I am mom. Even one day changed their relationship for the better and I need to create more opportunities for my husband to grow into the dad he’s destined to be.

    08.10.17Reply
  7. Pearl says:

    I was raised by a single dad so I actually assumed men did all caretaking until I hit high school. My dad took me training bra shopping and kept the bathrooms stocked with maxi pads. I thought all men did that. I was very confused when my first boyfriend didn’t know how to run out and get me tampons when I needed them!

    For me and my husband, whom ever has the more flexible job takes over for the time being. Right now that’s me, I do daycare drop off and pick up and care for our son for a few hours alone before bedtime. If my husband gets home early, I hand kiddo off so he can do bath and bedtime. A few weeks ago, my husband was working from home so he did the childcare and I helped out.

    There are some domains where one of us takes over. I usually buy and schedule all the things, he usually installs all the things and does anything manual (child proofing, trash, laundry, literally heavy stuff). It works for us. I think both of us like a day here or there where we just spend time with our son, but I think neither of us would be great as a full time caretaker for longer than a week.

    I do notice that I’m expected to do more as the mother, but I try not to fall into that idea since it doesn’t suit me. Our daycare provider told me recipes for baby food since she noticed I bought food pouches. I told her she had to tell my husband since he handled all our cooking and she thought that was great. I don’t enjoy cooking all that much. So for us, we’ll go to town on stuff we enjoy (my husband likes making all his babyfood, I like researching activities and classes to take/enroll our son) but we’ll split evenly for stuff neither of us cares for. When it gets lopsided is when one of us will get burnt out/resentful, so we’re mindful to keep it balanced between us. When anyone has issues with this arrangement, I tell them they can help provide free childcare for my son, one week for each unsolicited opinion!

    08.10.17Reply
  8. Marissa says:

    I LOVE this post!!I can relate entirely. I grew up in a more “traditional” mom-takes-care-of-the-kids-and-dad-works-and-does-fun-stuff- with-the-kids family, and it completely colored my vision of a family when my son was born. It took me time to realize that my husband was completely capable of doing everything I could do and for me to “let go” (I felt guilty for letting my husband take on some of the responsibility, ugh!). I was so controlling and leaving my son alone with my husband would cause me such anxiety. It was so unfair to my husband to have such little faith his in ability! As time as gone on, I have learned to step back and, in turn, watched my husband take on an equal parenting role. It is SO much better for everyone.

    08.10.17Reply
  9. Carol says:

    It was a very interesting topic this blog and I liked it very much, because it made me think about how people expect that the mother is always the primary parent when is actually a “job” for both. I think is all because we are used to being that way; Mommy has to do it while Daddy doesnt because he is the Dad and is silly because times are changing and we see more same sex couple been both females or both male and they do it the same they both raise their child.
    My thinking is, people say “oh because you gave birth to him/she you have more responsibilities”, wrong, it’s both parents reponsibilities to take the same care of their children but we have the case of perfect example you work on a different coast or say you work a lot more than the other, well automatic one parent becomes the “primary” parent but is also up to both parents when they are together to share the resposabilities of raiding their children.
    I think if both do it the same or try to, then both will have a great bond with their kids and I think everybody should have that.

    08.10.17Reply
  10. Alli says:

    Eva this post brought tears to my eyes, you have such a beautiful way of writing about things dear to your heart.
    My husband is gone for work 4 days a week and so the portion of your story about being the main caretaker hits very close to home. But I can I have no resentment towards him, life experiences such as having a daughter at 18 while in college and missing the milestones during her infancy and most of her growth and development, make me sooo grateful that I get to experience all things things I missed with my daughter now with my son. In fact, I have feelings of guilt that my husband is missing these special moments because he is providing for us. I know I don’t tell him enough how extremely grateful I am for his sacrifices, he has truly given me the most amazing gift.

    08.10.17Reply
  11. Hayley says:

    I can completely relate to this. Well not the living apart part, but the sterotype part. We have a 4yr old daughter Florence Ivy she is 4 now. However when she was born and probably for the first 10 months of her life I think I went into autopilot, Nathan went back to work after two weeks and I kind of deemed it as well he’s at work I will tend to the baby, I will continue to cook and sort home out. It got to the point where it was putting a strain on our relationship as I would find myself snapping at Nathan, when the problem was mine not his. Florence would cry at night he would be out of bed to sort her and I would jump out and say ‘no no I’ve got it don’t worry’ until one day when he was supposed to be at work and he came home at 11am and said ‘ this isn’t working anymore, we’re not living in the 50s anymore, it is not on you to look after baby and continue with home stuff and for me just to be at work, we’re a team and going forward things will change otherwise one of us is going to break’ and from then on it just clicked from him getting up in the night, to taking her to nursery, cooking dinner before I did etc. And now I am in awe of this amazing g father/daughter bond they have. I do believe their is no greater bond than the father daughter bond. I think in general I am just in awe of him, he’s the funniest,kindest,warmest most patient man aside from my father I’ve ever known. Thank you for writing this post xx

    08.10.17Reply
  12. Esme says:

    I could not agree more. I too grew up in a home where my mom was the primary parenting role but in my own household now with my two-year-old son we equally share duties. I won’t lie, it was hard to let go of some of those responsibilities but I realized that just because my husband does not do it my way, it is not wrong,it’s just different. I look at this parenting journey as a never ending relay race. The responsibilities will never be divided equally 50-50 on a daily basis but my husband and I are a team and we pass the baton and have complete trust in each other.

    08.10.17Reply
    • Jessica Hulse Dillon says:

      Esme, i second your comment that just because its not the way you would do something means its wrong. So long as things get done and everyone is happy, healthy, and fairly clean I have totally let go of the process of how we got there!

      08.10.17Reply
  13. Kirsty Morris says:

    This is so pertinent to me today, because I just had a rather heated discussion with my husband where I pointed out that no he does not babysit when I am out, he’s just looking after his kids the same as I do. Although much of this circumstance is of my own making, because I am the mum and I should do everything and know everything and always be in control or at least it’s what I used to think, but life is teaching me differently. Great piece Eva as always.

    08.10.17Reply
  14. Courtney says:

    I can understand feeling like the primary parent since day one our twins were born. My husband travels a lot for weeks at a time. We moved to a not so exciting area to be closer to his work after living in the Seattle for 10 years. Not a fun transition, I still struggle. It’s hard to not be resentful. My twins turned 3 and I hit my tipping point and finally hired part time help. The kids relationship with their dad has finally improved a little bit. But it has been a struggle for him to feel like the kids ‘like’ him.

    08.10.17Reply
  15. Maura says:

    Since the age of 11 I only had my Dad. My Mom died very suddenly leaving him to raise 4 children under 13.
    He did a great job raising 3 girls and a boy on his own. He definitely did do things differently than my Mom but he was just as affective. I could always go to him about anything I was going through.
    I’m now married with 2 boys of my own. Since the beginning we have both been involved. I guess being raised solely by my Dad I saw first hand that men can be just as affective parents as women. So I’m more willing to let my husband share in the work of parenting.

    08.10.17Reply
  16. Amanda says:

    This was hard but important to read. Struggling right now with our family dynamic with our needy golden fur baby and 9 month old human baby ha. Both my husband and I work full time, yet almost all household and parenting to-dos falls on me. I love being a mom. I would be a stay at home mom if I could. But I’m tired and resentful that if I don’t remember to pack the diaper bag, it won’t get packed. My husband loves our daughter so much, but I do not find that he steps up to the plate if I back off. I’m not sure how to get to that point… 🙁

    08.10.17Reply
  17. Kara B says:

    I love this post, it was a very good read. I’m so glad changing things up worked out for you. This made me think about how my relationship changed with my father as an adult when his past indiscretions he hid were revealed a few years ago. It’s hard not to have a different view after the traumatic fallout of that. Also, he was away for work a lot during my childhood. Healing was difficult, but things are better. So my mom is who I go to for a lot of advice, we do so much together. If I ever did decided to have kids when I get married, I’d want to make sure my husband and are open and share responsibility raising our family.

    08.10.17Reply
  18. Glenda says:

    Great post Eva! I’m so glad that Kyle is home more often nowadays and he’s in the mix of things with the kids. It’s being on the same team and allowing the trust on each other to take place. My husband traveled for work when my kids were little, but when he was home he took over. I never had to ask “can you do this or that” he just did it! He has always been “hand on” I feel that men fall short because women don’t allow them the freedom to co-parent in the same household. It’s not babysitting and it’s not daddy daycare at all. It’s this is OUR child/ children and WE must co-parent 100%. To this day, if I cook hubby cleans the kitchen and vice versa. It’s just done. We’re in this together. We’re a family. I get it if you’re a SAHM the majority will fall on you when you’re home with the kids, but when Daddy is home his parenting should kick in and he shouldn’t have to be reminded.

    08.10.17Reply
  19. Jessica Hulse Dillon says:

    It was a lot like the way you described the early year with Marlowe for us. My husband is a lawyer, and generally swamped, and at the beginning with my nursing I was the one in charge but then after a long vacation when Lucy was about 10 months old he realized she was pretty tough and can handle change and adventure and he took on a much more hands on role with her. In the last month or so he has been the one she freaks out about when we leave, which I think is hilarious, and while I still do a lot of the planning, and staging for our live my husband can step in no problem.

    08.10.17Reply
  20. Sonia bell says:

    Hi Eva,

    I have a more serious question, is your husband gay?

    08.10.17Reply
    • Khan says:

      Yes, her husband is gay…a man who is just a loving and caring individual is instantly gay

      08.10.17Reply
      • Nina says:

        *THIS*

        08.10.17Reply
  21. Cynthia Johnson says:

    I totally love this post. I can totally relate to the moms being the super parent! Basically a one show pony to add don’t really bother dad with the little things take it to your mother. But come to dad if disciplining was needed. But as a millennial with my own child, that’s the role that came naturally. Doing the majority of the “work” parenting, if you will, coming from a strong female dynamic with no father present it just resonated with me. Now her father being from a Hispanic background the culture in a family dynamic is mom has the babies, cooks the food, cleans, pleases the man, and doesn’t leave the house. To only leave dad as the provider, it wasn’t his job to “parent” he did the “manly” “work” it wasn’t sought out as “work” caring for children and basically being a house maid if you will. I definitely struggle on not really putting a label on raising your children as a unit..” it’s your job” my child’s father might say and it’s “his job” to bring the money in. Those titles really irritate me. We should be a whole a unit right?! Heaven forbid we know how to handle everything cause babies need their mamma’s right after birth and it’s a lot of bonding etc.. but by all means necessary it would be refreshing for dad to jump on in and learn a thing or two as well. I, too, want our daughter to run to daddy when things go awry, not to sit there and question on facial recognition on her father cause he’s so wrapped up in his “role”. Most millennial men act like they’re life’s don’t change. It’s sad it’s the women who’s life does more than a 360 and put on hold for a bit. It’s all about family and family values for us, for me for sure that I can really speak on. My parents are from the 60’s old school family values are all I know to be true.

    08.10.17Reply
  22. Jamie says:

    This is an interesting take. My personal situation was that my husband/life partner also happened to NOT be the father of my children. He came into their lives later, so I always felt that they were “my” kids and “my” responsibility and although he was always a good role model, dependable provider, and built his own relationships with the kids, still, it always felt like I took the reigns and he would do whatever I asked of him, but only when I asked him to. Now, the kids are young 20-somethings. I wish I would have let him do more. I stifled him. But the kids are “our” kids and they are lucky to have him in their lives. I may have done it differently if we were all a unit from the get-go.

    08.10.17Reply
  23. Connie says:

    Wonderful post, Eva. Very topical. I myself have struggled with the very same thing and I’m sure you know that “running the show” is exhausting. Though I wanted to call the shots with my baby, I completely fell apart after 6 months – it’s just too hard. I laid it all out there for my husband (who’d wanted more of a role but between work and his other children, was not realistic) who reminded me that it was I who requested to call the shots. Well, things are totally different now. I’ve learned to let go, while he’s taken on so much more. And like Kyle and Lowie, watching their blossoming relationship makes my heart swell. Thank you for this and keep up the good work.

    08.10.17Reply
  24. Luciana says:

    Thank you for this, Eva. I grew up with my mother saying (still) “mother’s just do more”. I’ve learned to step back when Dad is home. He handles things with our daughter his way. Which isn’t always MY way but definitely not the wrong way.

    08.10.17Reply
  25. Yasmin says:

    I’m currently reading “How To Not Hate Your Husband After Kids” LOL I’m a sahm and learning how to give up control and ask for help so I can get a break. As much as I want to believe men are capable, there are times I just don’t have the confidence. I know it’s a learning curve, but I hope by the time my kids are adults it becomes the norm

    08.10.17Reply
  26. Leah says:

    I totally fell into this trap, when we decided I wouldn’t return to my FT job and focus on our kiddo and finishing my degree both my husband and I went through some challenges. Having a super high needs babe that literally only wanted mom but also I don’t think looking back I gave dad enough of a chance to parent. I’m expecting our second kiddo and my husband will have to be more primary parent then he is now to our oldest because there just won’t be an option otherwise . Part of me worries Ive robbed my oldest and my spouse of developing a better bond but hes only 20 months so I’m sure things will work out. With baby 2, I will be trying my hardest to let my husband take over new baby duties more, which will also give me time to spend w our older kiddo. I’m rambling but this post combined with my self realization I’m hoping will let my control freak ways back off a bit and let my husband and our boys develop a more deeper relationship

    08.10.17Reply
  27. Alicia says:

    Very sweet and real article. Kyle seems like a great dad and husband. My husband doesn’t do much unless I nag the living daylights out of him though lol I’m on the fence about the same sex parenting thing, I think it’s great that two people want to share their love with a child but I don’t like the idea of purposely denying a child a mother or a father’s love. That’s a unique and special bond between children.

    08.10.17Reply
  28. Mama says:

    YES TO ALL OF THIS. I’m a full time SAHM so the dynamics are a little different but I am definitely what is termed a maternal gatekeeper. I have subconsciously taken on everything regards our boys from day 1, even now at 6 and 3 I will write a list of timings and snacks when I go out for the day and constantly check in on my phone. My poor husband!!
    It’s been fine for a longtime, and I guess he would say he’s gone along with it as a) I’m at home full time b) he’s mad busy at work and c) it’s infinitely easier on him!! But recently I’ve noticed that it has started to have an impact on how our 6 yr old views him and responds to him when ‘discipline’ and guidance is needed; he totally disregards his dad and refuses to communicate with him, only wants me. This then causes an escalation, massive shouting, time outs, me getting involved and upset and husband feeling undermined. They do have very similar personalities (stubborn and shouty!) and possibly husband’s inexperience in this area inflames things, but I can’t help but wonder if me stepping back and letting them navigate things alone would be beneficial all round?
    So yes, this post totally spoke to me. I’ve been there with the ‘babysitting’ jokes! But am hoping we can start making a shift to where you guys are. With number 3 on their way I’m hoping this is a natural chance for me to step back, focus on feeding etc… and let him shine. Thank you for your honesty, I do enjoy the style of your writing xx

    08.10.17Reply
  29. Isabella says:

    I agree with your post wholeheartedly and having equal parents is what allows women to continue their careers in the manner they wish.

    The one aspect were women still carry the workload is in breastfeeding. Yes, there are options to share feeding but if you work and pump all day like I do, the last thing you want to do is feed your baby breast milk while pumping in the other room …

    08.10.17Reply
  30. Danielle says:

    Love this post! I find myself in the same position as you were. My husband works out of town often for months at a time. I work full time and mommy full time. I find it hard to leave the resentful feelings aside. We get into a routine when he’s gone and when he comes home I ‘assume’ he’ll jump right into being a hands on dad again.

    I usually end up having to teach him all over again what he should be doing. Once he’s home again for longer stretches, he’s a great dad – like another woman said “when I’m not home”, but when mom’s home, it again, becomes “mom’s job”.

    How does one fight the resentment?! Haha I never wanted to become the nagging wife, but why must he make me nag haha

    I completely agree on the “daddy daycare” point. Which I find others will say when I’m out “oh, is dad babysitting?” To which I reply “nope, he’s parenting! Lol”

    08.10.17Reply
  31. Whitney says:

    My husband is an excellent father, and definitely jumps right in there with our son. If anything, he’s more compassionate and patient than I am, and I’ve learned a lot about how I want to mother by watching him father. However, especially in those early newborn/infant days when our son was EBF, I felt like I had to do it all. It was stressful, and made me resent being a mom, which shocked me, as our son was a miracle with no intervention after nearly 5 years of infertility. When I would need a break, my husband would put out son in the baby wrap or carrier and just talk to him (or watch sports together! Ha!). Yes, our society definitely short changes fathers, which ends up short changing mothers and our children.

    Loved this post, Eva!

    08.10.17Reply
  32. Alexis Denn says:

    Talk about a parallel to my current new life. I became a first time mother to Vivienne on May 30th. My partner has an 8 year old son, Jackson,from his first marriage, whom is as close to a son as ever to me. I found out the day I was discharged that my contract as a teacher was not renewed for this upcoming academic year this thrusting me into “stay-at-home” mommy mode. A first for me as a fiercely independent woman whom has always been about career and travel. My partner started a new job that requires extensive last minute traveling and I’ve found myself recently having resentful thoughts and our arguments centering around me feeling like the martyr of motherhood and having to delegate tasks to Eric as opposed to allowing him to take on the role. While Vivienne is only 10 weeks old and we are truly navigating this new role along with our relationship as parents together, it is definitely a learning process. I want Eric to take more of s proactive stance with Vivi, especially if we plan on having another child in a couple years. Being blessed st having a stay-at-home mother myself, I want to be sure that the connotation of the role is equal and not treated as an antiquated expectation that the woman bears the brunt. A thank you for writing this and being so honest. I just sent this article to Eric saying this is how I’ve been feeling and I want us to progress to a more autonomous parenting role for our two children. As always, Eva, your candid and integrity driven points of view about your life is refreshing.

    08.10.17Reply
  33. Karin Washler says:

    Loved this! I’m a stay at home mom, but sometimes work (interior designer). My schedule is much more flexible than my husbands. I’ve always let my husband do his thing with both our boys…we’re in this together! I’ve watched other women who totally took control and in the end they seemed very bitter, so much that some of my friends are no longer married leaving their husbands to wonder what the hell happened?!
    My husband doesn’t cook, clean, schedule play dates, nor attend birthday parties, but he does so much more. I don’t like Costco so he goes, I think we balance one another out. I love that men seem to be more involved than what my father was. He would sit down and watch tv….that was it. My mom had to do everything.
    With so many families where both parents need to work I think it’s super important for the husband to understand that he’s very much needed in raising these little ones!
    XoXo – Karin

    08.10.17Reply
  34. Lgr says:

    This is such a perfect post Eva. Thank you for sharing your experience! For us, I am the primary caretaker of our sweet baby, but I am also the primary financial contributor. For the first few months as new parents, it was a little difficult to strike a balance! So the mommy/daddy dynamic that you wrote about stretches also into the peripheral household responsibilities. It’s so helpful to hear these experiences and know that we are not the only ones finding our footing! Fortunately, we are having fun trying to figure it all out….. there are a lot of lists 🙂

    08.10.17Reply
  35. Mary says:

    Thank you Eva for this refreshing and insightful post! It is a huge matter and a source of struggle for the most of us moms I think. You gave me a new perspective about what more(in terms of practical help and care) my husband could offer as a dad (and I hate to think that i might be hindering that or sabotage him.Well … difficult to believe it but yes I could be doing that!).I wish that I were simply being a hysterical control freak and not allowing my man to flourish as a dad but I am afraid that every man has some stereotypes on his own head coming from his own family and environment and no matter how modern he is,those (stereotypes) subconsiously and emotionally affect them in their role as fathers. So, when a man has a picture of a mother, aunt, grandmother, responsible for all the chores and the non fun stuff of childcare, good luck with trying to persuade him to change a diaper or wash the bottles once in a while or wake up at night- after you woke up four times- to keep the crying baby for some minutes cause you are dying of exhaustion.Well I found myself in this fun situation starting from18 months before when our adorable son was born, whom we both adore beyond words.He is the light of our life.But when it comes to practical help, my dear hubby needs a (great) push and he has learned to do a lot of stuff (in case of need, if I might be ill for example) basically because we have noone else to help.And although I still did not get back to my job it doesnt mean that I can go on like a restless robot for 24 hours a day.The most annoying thing though is when he has strong (wrong) opinions for practical matters that he has no idea about and insists on them (the male EGO) .Tell me please how diplomatic can I be especially when,not very rarely ,I happen to be tired as hell? You can imagine what happens next… BOOM , explosion etc…it is resolved usually quickly but it is also very tiring.At least when your husband is working in another city or travels a lot for work you avoid the every day routine and friction that comes with it,especially when you are new at motherhood and you strugle to learn everything and you feel insecure but want to do everything perfect. All in all I believe that some man have the talent to do the practical stuff and offer love and support to their kids just as well as women and some others can manage it quite well if they have to under specific circumstances but I feel that women (usually) can do it better.Thats my experience not a stereotype.

    08.10.17Reply
  36. Darla Poulas says:

    Another great post, Eva. (Seriously, all your posts bring tears to my eyes! Jeez). Anyway, it gets me thinking of how dads get sucked into this cultural trap, too. Even for the “hands on” dads, who are or want to be involved in everything, not just the fun stuff. And, how us mothers can make it really hard for them to find a way in. Uttering things like, “I’ve got this” or “Just let me do it”; and eventually the guys just stop trying. I’m glad my husband wants to spend time with our son. He still doesn’t know where to find everything and will ask our three year old for help, but at least he’s doing it! I’m going away for a long weekend in March and he’s psyched to spend time, just the two of them. Handing over the reins is a work in progress and I have to stop myself from being #1 all the time. Thanks for bringing it up. Great topic and poignant reminder to be mindful in how we parent, together, WITH our partners. xo

    08.10.17Reply
  37. Jemma says:

    Hi eva such a great post for all families i applaud you. Ive been saying this for years . My husband was and still is a hands on dad. My boys are now in there 20s and all the “boys” do so much together. It doesnt matter there age all children need as much from both parents AND it makes for a happier household. I look forward to your stories everyday. Thankyou Jemma

    08.10.17Reply
  38. Kelcey says:

    Thank you for sharing this! This is something we talk about a lot in our family and I notice a major difference in the perception of this topic with our generation. My grandmother in law loves to tell me how with three kids that her husband never changed a diaper. It wasn’t considered good or bad, it just wasn’t so much of a thing. My husband, and most of the dads I know, really do an amazing job co-parenting. We do our best to split up duties when and where we can. When it comes to our parenting decisions we try really hard to stay aligned with one another (and it’s work that gets harder the older they get!) it’s not perfect by any means, but it seems to works for us. I do still find myself in the “coordinator” role (keeper of schedules, signer of school paperwork, organizer of things)but I attribute that more to our personality differences than parenting engagement. . Thanks for being so open and honest about your experiences. It’s nice to know there’s another Mama out there who’s mindful about these things!

    08.10.17Reply
  39. Sarah Roy says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I love your insta stories and blog, but have never commented. This one compelled me to reply. I grew up in a family of 5 kids. My mom and dad both had full time jobs. My brother and I are only 15 months apart, so they had 2 babies to care for (in the late 80s). My dad worked overnight at the hospital (admin work) just to be able to stay home to care for me and my younger brother. I always grew up with my dad “raising” us. I didn’t realize until I was pregnant that I had the same expectations of my husband. My husband is a loving and caring man and father. We are true equals and share all responsibilites of raising our son (now 7 months old). I do cringe when other women tell me their husband or partner is “babysitting”, but I understand that in our society/culture, women primarily take on the role of “primary care taker”. I’m so happy to read how much you love, respect and appreciate your husband in all that he does. Continue to promote happiness within and outwardly! Love to you and your family! Thank you for sharing!!

    08.10.17Reply
  40. Jackie says:

    Oh my gosh, are you reading my mind?! A few months back I had a switch in my job schedule which allowed me to work from home. That being said, *I* INSISTED on pulling my 7 yo and 18 mo old from daycare/after school care. I thought I was superwoman. They’re better off home with me, and bonus: we can save a boat load of money!

    Woah. Fast forward to 3 months in. Summer vaca on top of it. Huge resentment. My husband was the one who advised against it and suggested keeping the baby in at least a few days a week. Nope! I was hell bent. I started asking him (ok, challenging him) just the other day (in my pissy-end-of-the-long-day-rant) if he knew what size shoes they wore. Or who our eldest daughter wants for her 3rd Grade teacher, or WHEN school starts. I then realized something. I don’t share this info. I store it in my personal calendars and when he “forgets,” I use it as ammo, as if he’s less of a Father. I am learning to accept help from my family in rough days and have him relieve me in the evenings so I can focus on work. And he’s an amazing Dad! I need to let go of the reigns a little and realize I’m not effing Superwoman! I think you’re right. It’s engrained in us.

    08.10.17Reply
  41. Jenn Parnell says:

    This post is amazing!

    My kids are a bit farther apart in age than yours (Ada will be 5 in November, Ryker turned 1 in May), but I feel you. With our daughter, I was the “default parent.” I think nursing also fosters that – the need for mama, and mama’s need for baby. And suddenly our daughter was 3 and we were having dinner and something silly happened and Bryce decided to get stern with her. She crumbled. He asked why she always wants me and I explained to him that he needed to put the time in so that she could associate him with positive, fun experiences and also to trust him enough to keep her alive. In that moment he stopped what he was doing and got down on the floor and played with her. And from that day forward, he stopped doing anything and everything until 7pm – and he spent that time doing something with her.

    Fast forward: two kids in, I haven’t left the house for work in almost five years. I took a job serving to meet my social needs. At first I prechewed their food, set out jammies and diapers, and catered to the situation. I checked in frequently and worried about how they were doing. He proved so quickly that really, they were fine. And I accepted that even if he did things differently, he had their best interest at heart and that comes first. Now I go to work and make sure there are groceries and diapers in the house! Lol. Not laid out. And while it hurt a little to see my son choose dad time and time again, I got a pregnancy and a year of breastfeeding with him – why shouldn’t he choose daddy first?

    This post rocks! 🙂 So do You! You’re hilarious and beautiful and your kids are ADORABLE! I especially love your baby crocodile! 😍😍😍

    08.10.17Reply
  42. Brigit says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. Growing up I remember having both parents present in my life. I do remember my dad being at work alot at night (he worked nights) I remember my mother being home mostly daytime and, while both were active, caring parents. My mom was home for taking care of us during the day. Culturally I think being of Italian heritage it was more the assumed way. It was also just a necessity for my dad to work two jobs one as a landscaper and, a night keeper in a building in NYC. I’m proud of my parents for doing their best and, I hope I can pass down that trait and be as great a parent they were to me to a little one and niece and nephew one day.

    08.10.17Reply
  43. Victoria says:

    I loved this blog! I’m a new mom ….extremely new …my son is a week old and I’ve felt this way honestly since the moment we found out we were expecting. I would be the primary caretaker and make all of the decisions and take on the majority of the work load. Except that’s not how it is at all. My husband does just as much as I do, if not more at times. I feel like it has a lot to do with society’s portrayal of a “woman’s job” and a “man’s job”. Probably also because of the natural “maternal” feelings we have as well. I’m also a preschool teacher and when I see a dad come in and know exactly where to go, what to take home, and if he knows who his child’s teachers are it’s as if I saw a dog walking on his hind legs dressed in business attire. Great read!

    08.11.17Reply
  44. Suzie says:

    What a great post! I had no idea you were a bi-coastal family for the first year and half. What a challenge. Glad to hear you settled into a better routine in Connecticut where you can all grow as a family and spend lots of quality time together! Kyle seems like such a sweet Dad. Your kiddos are lucky to have him! I think by nature, babies will always run to Mom first, but it’s always so nice when Dad can swoop in seamlessly!

    08.11.17Reply
  45. Laura says:

    Great post, Eva! I think this is such an important topic. I’m a SAHM and my husband works outside of the home, but when he’s home at the end of the day we basically split duties 50/50. I think (in my opinion) it can get particularly difficult to separate the parent responsibilities when one parent is either a stay at home or work at home parent because they’re just around the kids more. But we feel strongly that we’re both parents so we should both be taking an active role in caring for them. I do find myself thanking him for doing things to help out, which isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t know if it’s really necessary. And it always irks me when people see my hubby with our kids and say, “oh he’s such a good dad for watching/playing with his kids!” Like, no one says that when they see me out with our kids! Haha! But I do get that I’m blessed to have a spouse who is on the same page and wants to be involved- I just hate that it’s so uncommon that people always feel the need to comment on it. Anyway, good thoughts, Eva! ❤️

    08.11.17Reply
  46. Deanie says:

    Dude, this is awesome. I gotta say…I’m jealous. I am the primary caretaker of our toddler. He’s the fun dad. The one to wrestle with. I think the longest he has ever watched her alone was an hour. She is two in September. I go get a pedicure and he is texting me about when I’m coming home. Umm, just left the house, man!

    08.11.17Reply
  47. Brooke says:

    It’s funny cause i have felt the same things. My husband works away three weeks at a time and is home for three weeks. So in those three weeks where a child can change so much , I am in charge of literally everything. Every meal, every sickness, every scrape, every tantrum, play time and play dates; fun rainy day activities , not resorting to too much tv (though it happens), cleaning and working a full time job. As us moms know, that list is barely touching the surface. I love when my husband comes home because some of that load is taken off me which is so so nice. However, we parent different ways and when my husband is trying to take charge , and I tell him it’s not how I have been handling it , that I’m worried our child will become confused with a change to a rule ect , it can kind of make him feel less of a parent. That or he gets defensive and tells me my way is wrong or that I’m telling him he is wrong and doesn’t know what he’s doing. It can really affect his confidence and mine too, if he thinks I’m not handling it right. We try to communicate over wine so we can try to stay on the Same page and be consistent in our day to day with our son so he’s not confused on rules or routine. It’s a tough situation for sure. I have learned that my husband is fully capable of caring for our child and taking on the responsibilities that I have when he’s gone. It’s hard to let go of control But I know it’s the right thing to do for us all. Xo

    08.11.17Reply
  48. Andrea says:

    I love this post & topic! My husband and I both grew up with fathers who worked long hours so naturally our mothers were our primary caregivers. I’m blessed to be a sahm and luckily my husband works normal hours. My husband is very involved and loves being a father. He’s never had issue doing the not fun parent stuff but sometimes needs to be reminded to do them. His father didn’t cook so if I’m not home and there isn’t any instant macaroni and cheese or microwave pizza he’ll take the boy to 7-11 and they’ll have candy for dinner. If I’m not there to enforce bedtime he won’t put the boy to bed until 10ish. I don’t want to discourage him but the boy is a preschooler and needs to be in bed at an appropriate hour. Candy for dinner is fun once in a blue moon but I’d rather him just cut up some grapes and bananas. (our son is SUPER picky) I guess I wonder if I should just be thankful he’s a wonderful father and let the other stuff go or if I should insist on the early bedtime and keep the freezer stocked with frozen pizza?

    08.11.17Reply
  49. Jacquie says:

    This is a great post – and so true. I have definitely taken many mental shortcuts when it comes to expectations of my husband as a father. The fact is that he took MONTHS of paternity leave to help soften the transition when I went back to work, after my own maternity leave had ended. And that was an incredible period of bonding and learning for all of us. Though I was the one waking up most nights/mornings and putting baby to bed for the first year, that was all about our breastfeeding schedule. After weaning, we started taking turns doing wake-up and bedtime duty and that continues to this day. It’s not only important for all of us to have that kind of balance in our lives/schedules, but I also think it demonstrates a healthy family dynamic to our son. Mommy and Daddy both cook, clean and do dishes. We also both work, which can sometimes include travel/time away, and friendships that we want to nurture. To your point – family doesn’t need to be about gender roles and stereotypes. It’s about communication, respect and love.

    08.11.17Reply
  50. Michelle says:

    I am guilty of this too! It was only with baby #2 that I was forced to rely more on my husband. The result has been awesome. I’m happier, he’s more fulfilled and our babes are thriving! Thanks for sharing! Xo

    08.11.17Reply
  51. Mellie says:

    I have been very intrigued by this topic since my almost 4-year old was born. I have been fortunate to have many models of involved fathers in my life–my own, my brothers-in-law, my husband, friends; but regardless of how involved they are I don’t believe there is such thing as true, 50/50 co-parenting. No matter how involved the father is, the mother always does more and carries the ’emotional unload’. There was something that went around social media recently about this, but it’s so true. It’s partly biology and partly a dynamic we (as moms) create, but I think it’s an inevitability. And I think it exists in same- sex couples, too. And I don’t think it’s about who changes more diapers or who misses the child more when they are away – you can do all of these things and still not be doing 50%.

    08.11.17Reply
  52. Christina H says:

    Just like I’ve read in some comments below, my husband, when left alone with our 6 1/2 month old son, will do a great job. You can tell our son loves man time lol! My husband works A LOT so I can stay home and to be honest I really don’t care for the hours he’s working for this newer time in our lives. Although I’m very grateful to stay home and raise our son. He works a 4pm-midnight shift and gets home late. That said he sleeps most of the day and then goes to work. That’s where the majority of parenting has landed on my shoulders and definite resentment has set in from time to time on my end. At home, if we’re both home, he’ll usually only help with our son if I push that I need help. Sometimes he will react and help on his own. He will even tell me that I do things better than he in regards to our son and that’s why I get a better outcome for certain things like naps. Not sure if he really feels like that or just wants me to do it because when they’re alone he obviously gets things done. I always thought he’d be more invested with us time wise despite his schedule, not everyday but some days at least. So since giving birth a harder time has set in our marriage Id say temporarily. Things are getting much easier with my son getting older on my end which is helping. I just think my husband will be more involved when our son is older and I just didn’t think it was going to be like that. Ahhh sorry I’m rambling now. Great Father when left alone…..other times needs a lot of work.

    08.12.17Reply
  53. Lauren says:

    As a SAHM, I have naturally assumed the “primary parent” role, but my husband does an amazing job at taking on a lot of the responsibility when he’s home. It helps a lot that when my daughter was born, I was in the ICU for HELLP Syndrome, and she was in the NICU due to being born prematurely (36wks) and having a double nuchal cord (she needed some assistance breathing), making him the sole parent spending time with her for 36 hours, so he was very comfortable with her by the time I met her. He assumed the role of “involved dad” right away and has continued it – I consider myself lucky as several of our friends have family dynamics like you mentioned where the mother takes on the lion share of the responsibility; that’s now how our dynamic works.

    08.13.17Reply
  54. tara says:

    this hits home! my husband has a very busy schedule and I am generally okay with being the primary caretaker (although burned out at times). However, when he has time off and is around more, I struggle to relinquish control. It’s hard to adjust to having that second parent around. It’s a work in progress….Thanks Eva, another good topic!

    08.14.17Reply
  55. Ashley Meissner says:

    Wow this post was so eye opening for me! I feel that I have absolutely taken the primary parent role and have found myself telling my husband “No, it’s okay, I’ll do it” for just about everything for my baby girl. I think so many things are easier for me to do because of the bond my daughter and I have (and breastfeeding has been her favorite source of comfort). Your thoughts have inspired me to take a step back and let him take the reigns more. Thank you!

    08.16.17Reply
  56. Heather says:

    I love this! My husband steps up whenever needed but it seems hard when our 9 month old primarily wants me. Every time he wants me instead of daddy I can see my husband feels defeated. I hope this will get better with time. I also know that I need to let my husband take the reigns more often or it won’t get better. Any tips?

    08.16.17Reply