In an effort not to disturb my slumber, my wife quietly slipped through the house trying not to let light from other rooms and the sounds of stirring children wake me. But her rustling and a 2-year-old calling “da-DEE” woke me anyway. I grabbed my T-shirt on the nightstand and covered my eyes to block out the early morning sunlight in a futile attempt to sleep a little more. “Just a few more minutes,” I thought. So began another day in the life of a “Mr. Mom” home daddy.
Excuse me, while I pause to read my 2-year-old The Dumpy Dumpy Book. (That’s 2-year-old for The Humpty Dumpty Book.) Sorry for the interruption, but she asked, “Peas?” Just a moment…
…As a home daddy, I spend most days doing housework and tending to my children’s needs. Today has been especially frazzling because my first grader stayed home with a fever and upset stomach. So, besides reading The Dumpy Dumpy Book, changing four diapers, cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry, vacuuming, preparing lunch for the family in advance of my wife bringing our middle child home from preschool and starting to write this article, I’ve also been Doctor Dad — taking temps and giving hugs.
Why am I sharing the details of my day with you? Because of a discussion I heard on a morning news show. Three professional women were reviewing a book that asserts that most men don’t help
with the housework.
I know some men come home from work, eat supper, and then sink into their recliners, remote in hand, until bedtime. However, “I’ve looked at life from both sides now,” and I believe such
blanket allegations about either spouse are unproductive.
Busy all the time
For several years, I was the breadwinner while my wife was the homemaker. Still, I often cooked supper, washed dishes, and spent time with my children after work. I also performed those husbandly duties that wives generally avoid. I took out the garbage. I mowed our acre of grass. If anything broke around the house or on the cars, I fixed it. That’s not all. I held a part-time job to make ends meet, performed in community theater productions and served my church as worship leader. I was busy all the time.
Based on my experience and that of other couples I know, I think staying busy is the reality for most of us. In most families, husbands and wives work outside the home. Add obligations to
church and community, getting children safely to their activities, tending to the home and squeezing in a little personal time, many barely have time for each other. We’re always on the run, taking care of things the best we can. But are we really?
My point is that life for many of us is simply out of balance. As a result, we feel isolated, even among family and friends. We push aside our personal and spiritual needs, and our vision
turns inward. We develop the false perception of “Why is it that I do everything around here?”
Earning an income, doing household chores, and tending to our children’s needs are our parental responsibilities. But to have more fulfilling lives, each of us needs a healthy level of recreation, community involvement and private time. An overabundance of these, however, may detract from our real quality of life. That depends on the value we place on our marriage and time spent with our children — on making sure we take time to know and enjoy each other.
The Martha syndrome
Too many women and men are like Martha. You remember her. She was the disciple who invited Jesus into her home. In her enthusiasm, she became absorbed in tending to her household
responsibilities. Then she noticed her sister, Mary, enjoying time with the guest of honor. Starting to despair, Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed — or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).
Many of us are in danger of losing the “better” part of our lives, because we’ve become too absorbed in busyness and sometimes forget the need for togetherness. We need to reflect
upon what we really value in life in light of the things to which we give so much attention — our careers, household chores or personal interests and activities.
Becoming a home daddy is not something that I planned to do. After losing my “dream job,” my wife found work before I did. Unable to bear the thought of leaving our two younger children
with a sitter or in a daycare facility, I chose to stay home for them. At this time in their lives, I believe they need my attention more than an employer does.
Today and every day, I have housework to do. There’s laundry to wash, dry and put away. (I just leave the machines on the “never-ending” cycle.) Our house is not ready for a dinner
party, but Jesus doesn’t mind. Loving each other and letting some things go for a while allows me to focus on the better part of my life that Jesus talked about.
Considering my time as chief cook and bottle washer, I can say that I truly have appreciated spending time with my children. That doesn’t mean I will cherish memories of housework and
dirty diapers after I return to the work force. But I will always hold in my heart those “dumpy dumpy” moments, which will not be taken away.
David Harstin is a certified lay speaker and member of Centenary UMC, Morristown, TN. © 2006 by the author.
Author: David Harstin