Letting My Husband Be Man of the House

Everything is better when Daddy is home. Screams of delight fill the apartment as Zoe runs from room to room, trying to escape Daddy’s clutches before he turns her into soup. Only Daddy can wake her up in the morning, snuggle into her bed and read her favorite books on command. With Daddy even taking out the trash becomes a game so irresistible that Zoe cries when she misses out. 

Oliver is a fantastic dad. This may be obvious to you; I write about his parenting successes all the time. It’s not obvious to Oliver; this poor man cannot feed our daughter a snack, get her dressed or brush her teeth without eliciting a comment from me within 30 seconds. Do I have some God-given calling to evaluate my husband’s every breath? I wonder sometimes, but as yet, no one has knocked on my door and extended me this responsibility. I, apparently, take this upon myself. 

Last week Zoe asked Oliver if she could have a strawberry after dinner. Oliver said yes. Then Zoe asked me the same question. The anxious faces of my daughter AND my husband both turned to me expectantly, as if I were the Queen of Who Gets to Eat Strawberries and When. 

Uh oh. 

I can do better in cherishing and supporting the man I love. He is my partner, not my royal subject. It’s not a popular opinion, but I believe it is his divine role to preside over our family, to guide and nourish our children — with my input, of course, but if the Strawberry Incident is any indication, my family could do with a lot LESS of my input right now. I certainly would not recommend this to everyone, but I want to submit to my husband, let him be Man of the House and guide the decisions for our family. You’d have to know both of us intimately to understand why this is a good idea instead of the horrifying proposition it sounds like, but I am so overbearing that I never run the risk of being submissive. Oliver is so tender that he never runs the risk of stepping on my toes. Give me complete control over my husband and I’d use him to fetch glasses of water from the kitchen when I’m too lazy. (…Actually, I already do this.) Give my husband complete control over me and he would use it to stop me when I’m in my manic phase and sit me down on the bed long enough to hold me and read scripture outloud. This is my atheist husband we’re talking about. He is so committed to my happiness and our marriage that there is zero chance he would abuse power. 

I, on the other hand, monitor my family’s fruit consumption as if it were a controlled substance. 

I’ve been acting like motherhood somehow trumps fatherhood based on the fact that I have more experience braiding hair and clipping toenails. It is true that Oliver has less information about our daughter than I; this is because he spends 60 hours a week mapping the global equity market while I spend those same hours chasing Zoe around the apartment with plastic hair ties. Am I really going to punish my husband for having the capacity and integrity to provide for his family? Am I going to keep telling my daughter, “Daddy doesn’t know how,” when she hands him the hair brush? Or am I willing to afford him the same opportunity that I’ve been given: to learn about our daughter without interference? 

Zoe and I are so lucky to have this man in our lives and I want to be his staunch advocate instead of cheese-grating his self-confidence every 30 seconds. That is what he deserves. 

Happy Father’s Day, Oliver. Thanks for being a great dad in spite of me. 

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