Be The Man Your Wife Wants and Children Need
My wife has lost count of the times she's been told "Wow, I wish my husband would do that." My wife is envied, and an envied wife is a happy wife that appreciates her husband and lets him do things like attempt a freelance writing business from home because his dream is to make a living slinging words while he sits in his underwear and drinks beer.
I benefit from not being normal, is what I'm saying.
To be completely honest, I don't understand why I'm seen as unusual or a freak. I honestly don't know how I could be any other kind of husband and father than what I am - this really does seem brain-numbingly simple to me.
But everyone grows up with different value systems and different ideals about what a man should be, so I decided to lay out what is working for me, in the hopes that it could help some of you.
Take what you can use, leave the rest, your mileage may vary, choose your disclaimer. Hopefully you can use some of this and make your home-life a little easier to manage.
Conformity for the sake of fitting in is for the weak-minded and weaker-willed. If your plans happen to follow the norm or conforming will achieve your goals, so be it. If conformity is holding you back from what you need or want? Forget. Conformity. Conformity is for sheeple. I don't wear a woolly coat and I'm not raising my boys to bleat.
Forget all the macho crap, lose the ego, and be a true partner.
Your concepts of "a woman's work" and wearing the pants in your family will get you nowhere. It's fine to have spheres of responsibility based on what your strengths, but be ready to step up and help with "her" responsibilities without restraint.
What's your alternative? Have things not get done and then fight about it?
Remember with whom you'll be spending the rest of your life and prioritize accordingly.
These first three really tie together. A lot of you will receive push-back from your friends and possibly even other husbands. You may be called whipped. You may be teased for going home to spend time with your kids instead of going to the bar and watching the game with your buddies. Other husbands may complain that you make them look bad.
To hell with them.
You are not married to your friends. Hopefully, at least one or two will still visit you when you're incontinent, but you don't go home to them every night. You will not grow old beside your friends. Your friends will not pick your nursing home or buy you Fathers' Day gifts. Your friends will not take care of you when you're sick.
And, to be frank (why stop now?), if other husbands aren't willing to step up their game, that's on them. Why make their problems your problem?
Change some diapers, especially the ones with a "surprise."
This ties into the first rule, but really deserves a spot of its own since my wife has shown more appreciation for this than almost anything else I do, ever.
I'm not really bothered by a diaper full of poop, and I'm even less bothered after five years of diaper changes, but nobody actually likes the (literal) crap job. I change 95 percent of the poopy diapers in our house, but you don't have to go that far. Taking one for the team even a third of the time will garner much appreciation from your wife.
Learn to cook.
Like changing diapers, you don't have to do this all the time. Just knowing that asking you to make dinner is an option will make your partner's life easier. When I stayed home with the boys, I cooked most meals. Now that we both work, my wife cooks more often than not. But she loves being able to ask me to make dinner or even just do all the prep work if it's needed.
Very little real work, major benefits.
This is the most underused skill in our society today. Not just in marriages and parenthood, but life in general. People don't listen to what others are saying, they just wait for their turn to talk.
It is essential that you listen to your wife and kids. Listen to and understand their needs, their concerns, their fears, their joys, and their annoyances. You'd be amazed at how much easier your life and relationships can be if you take 5 minutes to really listen to and understand the people around you.
Also, never stop working on this.
Missing the ball game won't kill you.
Dude, I get it. It's been a long day, you're tired and you just want to sit back with a beer and watch some football. Or baseball. Or basketball. Or mud wrestling. It doesn't really matter. The point is that you just want to check out and relax for a while.
Here's the thing, though. Your kids adore you. It's a miracle and makes no sense, but no matter what you do, you are your children's hero. And they're dying to play with you or show you what they drew or tell you about the smelly kid in their class. They need some of your time. And, before you know it, they'll be too busy with their own lives to idolize you like this. They'll have their own lives and own interests and you'll be dying for their time but they just want to check out and listen to the new Deathmole album.
Time is a non-renewable resource. You'll never get another shot at spending today with your family, so carpe the fuck out of that diem.
Learn to appreciate cartoons
There will be days when your kids will want nothing more than to just sit on your lap, check out, and watch cartoons. Find the good ones, your sanity will thank you. And your kids will thank you when you're actually able to sit through that crap.
I'm a big fan of Phineas and Ferb, I can watch that all day. Ruby from Max and Ruby and Peppa from Peppa Pig make me crave pork and rabbit stew. The Wonder Pets creep me out. Batman: The Brave and The Bold is a godsend.
Reconnect with your inner child
Kids have the best games. Do not be so caught up with being an adult that you can't enjoy this.
Tell them embellished versions of the Three Little Pigs. Make up an entirely new story. Build a Lego diorama of the Battle at Helm's Deep. Draw silly pictures of your annoying boss. Try to explain how George Lucas could make such a mess out of Star Wars. Race your cardboard box cars around the house.Let your kids ride you around the house. If they're small enough, turn your laundry basket into their flying car.
Have fun. There are major health benefits, besides making your kids happy.
Let your wife sleep in once in a while.
Moms are some of the world's most sleep-deprived people. When surgical residents complain about their long hours and going days without sleep, mothers - especially mothers of newborns - laugh and call them pussies. Dads don't really get enough sleep, either, but we're able to let go at some point and trust that our kids can't get into too much trouble locked in their rooms. Moms will wake up if a floorboard creaks. In the house next door.
So, the next weekend that it is humanly possible, tell your wife to sleep in, pour the kids and yourself some cereal, snuggle up on the couch, and watch some cartoons. Your wife will be happier from sleep and you'll have picked up some quality time with your kids.
Look, all of this may not be for you. Your wife may not like sleeping in. She may be weird and enjoy changing diapers. Your kids may have reached the point where they like watching the game just as much as you. That's awesome.
But hopefully you'll have found something useful here, or - even better - maybe I inspired you to find your own method to step up your game as a husband and father.