During a recent radio interview the President talked about some valuable advice he gave new dad Jay-Z.
“I made sure that Jay-Z was helping Beyonce out (with the baby),” the President said. “And not leaving it all with the mom and mother-in-law.”
He advised Jay-Z to be an involved Dad – to step-in, not let Mom and Grandma do all the diapers changes, burping, barf wipes or other fun things that go along with parenting. He told him he should help out.
Now that’s not such a foreign concept, is it?
Except that sometimes it is — and not in the way you’d think. Sometimes I am the one who needs to be convinced to let Dad help out, especially after a long absence.
Because sometimes I make it look like I have the whole child thing so under control that, even though he wishes there was a way for him to help, it looks like I don’t need him at all. I am so used to doing it all solo that I have trouble remembering that I can ask him for help.
Remembering that someone is there to help me is a normal part of my reintegration process. This past spring I had a baby solo while he was at a long Army school several states away. When he came home the baby was three-weeks-old, and I had figured out how to do the mom of two thing without much help from anyone. Forget him “leaving it all to mom” – in this house mom is leaving it all for herself.
So the question for me isn’t “how do I convince Dad to do some work?” The question is “how do I convince myself to let Dad do some work?”
After many years of comings and goings, I’ve figured out the answer is in three parts.
Be purposeful. I have to actively remind myself that I have someone here to help me, and that I don’t have to do everything. Because over deployment doing it all becomes habit – a habit that has to be broken.
Be practical. Does the bottle actually need to be mixed the exact way I’ve been doing it for six months? Probably not. Just because it’s the way I’ve been doing it, doesn’t mean it’s the way it has to be done. Letting someone help me means letting someone else decide how to do things. (IEven writing that out makes me feel a little stressed out. But *breathe* it’s going to be OK. My way is not the only way).
Don’t be a showoff. The first time my husband returned from a long absence I set out to wow him with my amazing do-it-all Superwoman skills. Look how I can carry 24 bags AND a baby down three flights of stairs! Look at my amazing do-it-all lady arm muscles! But instead of being left in awe of prowess, he felt shamed and unneeded. Ugh. Fail. Instead of showing off I do my best to whine just a little bit “oh I am so glad you are back because 24 bags and a baby weigh SO MUCH” and let him slip back into the same chores he had before. Because, frankly, there are better ways to get do-it-all lady arm muscles that have nothing to do with hauling trash.
How do you get back into the habit of letting your spouse help you?