I approached the door and can hear laughter and talking and all of the sounds that revolves around the word “fun”. My husband keeps our kids, amidst his busy schedule a few nights a week, on his own. He has free reign and to be honest, I almost cringe returning home because every snack they have eaten, every toy and game they have played with, every book they have read is on the bed/chair/table/floor; almost like they are there screaming their own story without any questioning necessary. I return and it seems like a disaster, but my kids bolt to the door to open it, only because reaching the reinforcement door lock above is a game. My excitement to see them is cut short because once I actually set foot inside, I hear things like “you’re back already?” “Aw man, that was quick”, etc and as if sensing my disappointment or my hurt feelings, at least one child would pipe up in the background half heatedly telling me they missed me. I decided to ask what it was about nights with daddy that was so fun. The answers I got explained quite a bit:
7 year old: we throw all the cushions on the floor and make an obstacle path and pretend we are ninja warriors
5 year old: we can play all the games we want and we don’t have to clean up one before taking out another
2year old: daddy says he loves me and he plays cars with me
7 year old: we race cars on the iPad
5 year old: daddy tries to play dolls with me and he’s funny because he doesn’t do it so good
2 year old: daddy read me a book
3 month old: she’s smiling and appears happy.
After “interviewing” them about their time with daddy, I was confused because during the course of our days we do all of the things mentioned except ninja warriors with chair cushions because my rules entail no jumping on furniture or any part of them.
I pointed that out to them, still curious about their enthusiasm every night I leave and they explained, ”well, we like to play with you too but daddy is a different person and he isn’t here a lot so it’s a lot of fun when he is.”
And just like that, I got it. I understood. Their enthusiasm and their anticipation of daddy time was due in part to the fact that he isn’t home a lot, and so in our house everything he does is heightened and transformed into something much greater.
I walked into our living room, wanting to ask him some similar questions but without any prompting, he said “I had a lot of fun tonight; this is always the best part of my day!” That he said while holding our infant, positioning himself to give a toddler a piggy back ride, sending one kid to use the bathroom before bed and listening to another rambling and I realized that he’s got this simultaneous demanding job of fatherhood down.
Though we parent in very different ways; I’m appreciative of the way his style complements mine; he exudes patience on the nights when I’m short, accommodates noise at 9 pm when I’m ready for some quiet, reads that extra story when I’m all done, gives one more hug because our toddler speaks in extremes and refusal of his tenth hug means we ‘never’ did give him one, tolerates all of our kids in our bed when I just want some space but yet draws those boundaries for them when I’m overly permissive.
When I married him almost 9 years ago, I had no clue about the type of father he would be and while there were many things I liked about him, the thing I’ve come to love the most is the way he loves our children.