Every Friday, our email goes out to about 45,000 people, and Rebecca writes it, not me. And it’s usually just awesome.
Last week’s email was special, coming at the end of a big week where we had lots of engagement around our podcast on the pathetic way that evangelical resources paint men when it comes to their ability to be good dads. We’ve had some amazing conversations on Facebook over the last few days too.
Rebecca’s email was so good that people were posting screenshots of parts of it on Instagram, and the Orthodox Barbie social media account even used a quote from it!
I thought that this one was worth running as a post, so more people could see it (and comment on it!)
But remember–you can sign up for those emails too, so you don’t miss Rebecca’s great takes!
My husband has gotten to know all of the older women who work at our local grocery store.
We go grocery shopping twice a week on average, and he particularly enjoys going because it gives him a good hour and a half outing with the kids (which means an hour and a half where they aren’t making a mess at home), they find it really fun to “help” him get what we need, and there is a group women who work at the check outs and one who works in the bakery who have gotten to know our kiddos over the four years we’ve lived here now. They have watched Alexander grow up, celebrated when Vivian made an arrival, and each have little “jokes” with the kids that make them laugh every time they’re at the store.
It adds a lovely sense of community, and it makes grocery shopping really fun for the kids.
And I (Rebecca) love it when he comes back and chats about how the kids did, who fawned over them, how the lady at the bakery was thrilled when Vivian told her “thank you” for the first time, and the kids chatter away about how many bananas they got to put in the cart.
Connor and I reviewed a blog post on the podcast this week that was written to address the resentment husbands can feel towards their wives when children come into the mix. And as we said in the podcast, it’s very normal to experience feelings of loneliness or mixed feelings and confusing emotions when you become a parent. Absolutely. It’s exhausting and all-encompassing.
But what is not normal is the rest of the article.
The whole piece is telling men whose wives are exhausted by taking care of the house and the kids and juggling it all to—drumroll please—be patient and understanding with their wives.
Not to jump in and help, not to lighten the load, not to become more involved so she’s not as exhausted.
Nope, it’s just “wait it out, bud, because then the kids will be gone and you’ll get to be the only person she takes care of.”
The issue of being so busy with kids the wife can’t wait on her husband is called “her situation,” and the husband is framed as being a victim of necessary neglect during the early years, so he should just be understanding and thank her for all she does.
The crux of the point the author is making is summed up in this paragraph:
If your wife really cares for your kids, she’s a caring person. When the kids are gone, all that care will be poured out on you. If you leave her now, she’s likely to end up with someone else and then her care will be poured out on that person. You’ll have endured the years in which she was stretched the most, only to miss the years when she could focus on you and love you the most.
This just baffled me. Let’s break that down a bit:
If you want to divorce your wife because she’s overwhelmed by taking care of your kids, the reason not to do that is because SOME OTHER GUY WILL REAP THE “REWARDS”?!
The reason isn’t that you’d be a selfish weasel that would rather put your wife through a divorce than just meet her where she’s at and pick up the pace?
The reason isn’t that you haven’t been abandoned and need to just be her partner instead of adding more to her to-do list?
The reason isn’t that you made these kids, too, and you are a grown up who does not need to be coddled like a child, so it’s ridiculous that you’re feeling this level of jealousy about it?
No, the reason is:
“some other guy will get to be waited on by her if you leave her now so just stick this out, you patient warrior you, and someday you’ll be the only child she has.”
After Connor and I recorded the podcast this week, he took the kids to the grocery store. The lady behind the counter at the bakery cooed over Vivian’s curls. The attendant commiserated with Alex as our son explained that we needed beans even though he doesn’t like to eat them. And the lady at check-out held back laughter while praising Alex for being “such a big helper” as he wildly threw groceries onto the conveyor belt far taller than he can see.
And Connor was there for it.
Connor isn’t sitting around frustrated that I don’t spend as much time one-on-one with him anymore, because he loves those kids just as much as I do.
He loves Vivian, so he tries out different curly hair products and finger-coils her ringlets so that they look nice and they can have daddy-daughter-hair-time. He loves Alex, so he googles how to get four year olds to eat carrots when they’re pretty sure they’re poison. He loves being around our kids, so he doesn’t just sit around on his phone while he watches the kids “for me,” he has fun little games they play together and songs they sing as they walk the 25 minutes to the grocery store.
I love seeing Connor love our kids.
Articles like Gary Thomas’ seem to not believe that dads are even capable of being as invested in their children as moms are by default.
That, to me, is a great tragedy.
Connor and I don’t have nearly as much “me time” as we did before we had kids.
We also don’t have a ton of one-on-one time. But we connect constantly, because we just like being with our kids together. We enjoy parenting together. We enjoy putting on the clean-up song after dinner and watching our 2-year-old try to figure out which buckets the blocks go into (hint: it’s the one with the other blocks, not the one with the dinosaurs).
We don’t have as much time to ourselves, no. But we laugh so much more together. We rely on each other so much more. We have learned to trust each other more than we ever did before we had our kids.
But that only happened because he was there to laugh with me.
He was there to rely on. He proved himself to be trustworthy.
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Men do not need to be “taken care of” in a way that is in competition with children.
Wives do not exist to care for everyone but themselves.
And when husbands and wives see each other as partners, rather than a care-giver and care-receiver, ironically you end up having so much more space to care for each other than you did before.
I’m sad that the younger version of that author didn’t see that. I’m hopeful that he did, and that the article isn’t actually true to his experience.
And I’m grateful that things are changing.
Do you think millennials and Gen Z will change the way the church sees parenting? Do you think this is a generational thing and we’ll see progress? Let’s talk in the comments!