As Valentine’s day approaches, I’ve been thinking about the things I appreciate about my spouse, especially as a parent. There are things I have always valued about him as my husband but being parents adds a whole new facet to our relationship. After the first year of parenting a relationship goes through a lot of changes, yes I do believe kids change things. We have grown and been stretched both personally and relationally with each other. Sleep deprivation in itself changes things. Adding one or more children to the mix can bring new complexities and craziness to a relationship you never thought could be possible. With this in mind how your partner acts and reacts to parenthood is important in more ways than one. There are certain attributes my husband has that have helped get us through the rough spots and make everyday life for me more manageable. Here are some characteristics I have found very helpful in any parenting partnership.
A SENSE OF PERSPECTIVE
He can keep me grounded and move on from a hard day, reminding me of the good when there seems to be a lot of bad happening at the moment. He does his best to read what is negative and help me see the bigger picture. He puts me back on track when I need it. I may not always appreciate it at the time, but it is necessary to move on to the next day with a more positive outlook.
Having a different view than me – a yin to my yang – helped keep balance in tough times, especially the sleep deprivation.
He takes the lead when needed and takes the initiative to get things done when it has to be. This helps take some of the weight off my shoulders as a mother. As the main caretaker of the twins I tend to make the majority of the decisions regarding them, it happens naturally. But sometimes I need to get things done and can’t because the babies take up all my time. He gets the groceries or cleans the tubs, gets appointments done that need to be outside our roles as parents. This especially came in handy while I was breastfeeding and there was very little flexibility in my schedule. When things need to get done, he steps up; whether he wants to do them or not, no questions or complaining accompany it. He also takes on jobs I don’t want to or just can’t do, like cleaning up dog puke before the kids get to it. Just like when we didn’t have kids.
He helps out whenever and wherever he is needed. He does not complain that he is missing the game or asked to do something out of his realm. He helps me in whatever way is necessary. He partners with me – in the every day and the extras that may arise. Like a great team-mate, he does his part and helps whenever it’s needed.
He is Proactive, makes his presence known and available to do what needs to be done. He sees what needs to be done and does it before being asked. For example the dishes or cleaning up the living room after he’s put one of the babies to sleep and I am still getting the other one to bed. Coming down to a mess being cleaned up when I thought I would have to do it is a relief and a time saver.
As a mother, I’m constantly asked what to do, what the twins needs, and making decisions to benefit them. Sometimes problems need to be solved when I need to sleep, or I simply get overwhelmed at times. Sometimes I get mommy brain (yes it’s a thing), and I can’t focus on something with a baby crying or demanding my time, because well I’m Mommy. He needs to figure out what needs to be done and get it done. Sometimes it’s to do with the twins, other times the household or personal issues. Either way, he’s helping me problem-solve issues I’m frustrated about, concerned with, or the honey- do list that simply needs to be completed. Like how to fit everything into the car when we are going to stay at Grandma’s house for a few days (not an easy feat with a dog and two babies!)
WILLING TO HANDLE THE MESSES
He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. He changes diapers, empties the diaper pail, cleans up after the babies when they spit up or vomit. He knows that I don’t have the stomach for vomit. I know in the future he’ll be helping our kids when they get a stomach bug or when Mommy just can’t handle it anymore. It’s more than awesome.
VALUES ME AND WHAT I DO AS A STAY AT HOME MUM
He thanks me for my hard work I do, tells me he loves me, lets me know I am doing an excellent job and tells me the kids are lucky to have me for a mum. Feeling valued and having someone who doesn’t want to change you into something you are not, is great. He knows I do my best and commends me for my effort. He often reminds me that I am doing my best and that is enough. He sees me for who I am and knows that caring for our children and our house is a crucial job. He makes me feel like no one else compares.
ACCEPTS MY FEELINGS AND HAS COMPASSION
Being a new mum is an emotional roller coaster. My husband has taken some emotional abuse I must admit. While I don’t mean to be harsh sometimes it comes out wrong; especially when I’m sleep deprived and have had a baby or two hanging off of me all day long. He acknowledges my feelings and asks to let him in on what is going on. Besides this I have anxiety, often, sometimes it gets the best of me. He holds me and comforts me, and he takes the tasks of the babies so I can take a break. All in all, hormones suck, and he keeps that in mind.
ABILITY TO HANDLE STRESS WHEN I FEEL STRESSED
It seems like he is never stressed which is annoying and also a good thing. He tries his best to stay level headed and calm when I am freaking out, or just on overload. If we were both stressed out all the time, there would be a whole lot of arguing going on.
He shows patience as a husband and father. He waits to have his one-on-one time with me, he doesn’t make me feel stretched when I’m giving the kids attention, and he wants it himself. He lets me know I am wanted but doesn’t push me to be attentive all the time. He understands the demands on me and how much they drain me. He waits till I am ready to give my concentration and affection to him.
THE KIDS AND I COME FIRST
He reminds me on a regular basis that I come before anyone else and anything else in his life (after God) and he tries his hardest to reflect that in his actions. Knowing that I am his priority is exceptional. He has a busy life working full time and going to school, yet his priority is always us, and he puts us before himself, not something that is always easy to do when you just want “you” time. So when he makes decisions, he always considers the needs of our family first. With that, he takes the time to spend with us every moment he’s free; we come before friends and football games, even missing a Super Bowl party because he’s needed.
HE GIVES ME A BREAK WHEN I NEED IT
Sometimes husbands don’t think we need help, that we can do it all (I think sometimes we as mums believe that too). Thankfully mine knows my limitations. When I am up all night comforting two teething babies or trying to get them to sleep, he will do his best to get me some extra sleep in the morning, especially on his days off. This is the best present he can give me sometimes. He makes sure that I can get breaks from the kids and household duties for time to myself – like a long shower or relaxing activities, like writing this blog post.
I am so thankful to have a hands-on, giving husband who loves and cherishes his family. I know that he will model this behaviour for the kids as they grow and demonstrate what a real man does for his loved ones.
Who are you most thankful for in your parenting journey?