You know how some people think their way is the only way? Folks like that used to bug me. Until I realized I’m one of them.
“Mom, where are my brown shoes?” My daughter skipped into the kitchen where I was griddling pancakes for breakfast. I took one look at her and nearly flipped a flapjack to the floor.
“Did Daddy choose your outfit today?” I asked. Behold a stunning young redhead wearing camouflage overalls and a wrinkled pink T-shirt from the summer castoff pile. And are those blue socks I see? Pretty.
“Well, actually,” she explained, “he let me pick it myself. But I needed some help with the buttons, so Daddy did those. Can I have chocolate chips in my pancake?”
Ugh. Clearly I was on my own here. It’s not that the overalls were bad. Believe me, I am not a high-fashion momma. My girls live in hand-me-down play clothes, and most days that suits us all just fine.
But on this particular day, we were heading to a birthday party—an event at which other parents would be present, you know, parents who dressed their children in coordinated Old Navy outfits. I kind of wanted to be one of those parents.
This was my dilemma: Do I change my daughter’s ensemble and risk offending my husband, who had already approved the camouflage? (With the blue socks. Let’s not forget the blue socks.) Or do I let it slide, releasing my expectations for stylish children, appreciating that their dad was making a genuine effort to help?
I’d like to say I took the holy road. But you know me well enough by now. Would this be an interesting story if I’d done it right the first time?
Nooooo, I gently suggested to my preschool fashionista that maybe she’d like to wear the lovely purple dress hanging on her dresser. Her daddy caught wind of this “suggestion” (“Daaaaad! Mom says I can’t wear this!”) and let’s just say it was not one of my finer family moments.
My husband is an excellent father. He and I are united on the major approaches to raising our children. But when it comes to smaller aspects of parenting, he has his own style, which is often different from mine.
That does not make it wrong.
As the daytime-at-home parent, my jobs include primary nurturer, teacher, police officer, nurse, taxi driver, chef, housekeeper, entertainer, therapist and fashion consultant. I have a system and a routine for getting through the day. My husband supports my role and my familiarity with our girls—what they eat, when they nap, which library book is the latest favorite, and so on. He seeks my input and my guidance.
Shouldn’t I also respect his?
Proverbs 1:8–9 says, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.” This verse tells me that fathers and mothers are in the game together. For kids with two caring and well-intentioned parents in their lives, the wisdom from each is valuable. When I try to control child-rearing decisions and squelch my husband’s input, I am denying my daughters a blessing their father was designed to impart.
Not good, Momma. Not good.
So the overalls weren’t ideal. But they weren’t the real issue, either. Once again, it was my attitude that got me in trouble. Darn it.
The truth is, sometimes Daddy’s way is actually better than mine. Remember those pancakes I was flipping at the start of the scene? They used to go to waste, as my girls rarely took more than a few picky bites of their morning meal.
Until my husband announced a “standing breakfast” party. He invited our daughters to park upright on low chairs at the kitchen counter, with their plates set in front of them. Would you believe those little stinkers ate the entire pancake that day? Now standing breakfast is a novelty, shared only between the girls and their dad on special mornings when he’s home and in charge.
Like this past weekend, for instance—when Momma Cat enjoyed a rare getaway to our church women’s retreat. My little mice greeted me home yesterday afternoon with hugs and kisses and happy stories of their adventures with Dad.
“Mom, guess what! Dad let us have M&M’s in our pancakes!”
Eh, what’s a few M&M’s between parents? I’m just grateful our girls were in such capable and loving hands while I was gone. So grateful that I didn’t even bother to ask what they wore to church that morning. Sometimes it’s better not to know.
Linking up with To Love, Honor and Vacuum: Wifey Wednesday.