In our house, Mommy is home with the kids all day, every day, and Daddy goes off to work every morning. Like a man going off to war, mornings are full of hugs, tears and promises that he will return soon. After the last hug, the last kiss, the kids rush together climbing up the couch – and over each other – to press themselves against the window to get one last glance of Daddy as he heroically drives off to his job. Then they turn and look at me as if to say, “So it’s just you and us again?” Mommy No-Fun is here. I enforce breakfast rules, make everyone change out of pajamas and into clothes and chase them around with shoes and lunch bags and beg them to just please get in the car already. It’s often chaotic, but for the most part we have our routines down.
We repeat this process for the next five days until finally the weekend hits. We fall into our Saturday routine – breakfast, errands together, something fun as a family. But eventually we hit a bump in the road. Maybe the kids spill some crackers, make a mess, and have a total freakout. Maybe Cole and Evie get into an epic swordfight over who gets to pick what show they watch while I’m cooking. Maybe Cole REALLY doesn’t want to ride in the shopping cart and throws an epic fit.
And that’s when the Daddy Decrees begin:
“That’s it – no more eating anywhere but the kitchen table.”
“That’s it – no more TV while Mommy makes dinner.”
“That’s it – you don’t have to ride in a cart anymore. Just stay close.”
And these decrees feel somewhat manageable, because it’s Sunday and we have an extra set of hands around. But what happens Monday when the kids want a snack? When I NEED to make dinner – and keep the kids from killing each other – so, you know, we can EAT? When I lose our kid in the grocery store because he’s running around?
I find myself struggling with these decrees. On the one hand, my husband is the parent too, and he should get a say in things. I don’t want to chop him off at the knees and challenge his authority. On the other? I often can’t live up to these rules that he puts in place in a moment of frustration, thinking he’s making a reasonable decision for our family.
Now, this sounds very civilized from my perspective. But that wasn’t always the case. I used to lose my mind over this stuff. “How could you SAY that?” I would ask, as though he was secretly plotting to ruin my life with some new rules he was going to drop like a grenade before sneaking off to work. I would lash back, “You don’t know what our weeks are like, it’s not up to YOU to make decisions for US.”
Fun fact: Making the Daddy feel like he’s not really a part of the family is rarely an effective strategy for success. I had to try, really try, to see things from his perspective. He’s an engineer, he fixes things, so his instinct is to see a “problem” and come up with a solution. Telling him he’s just wrong has never, ever, ever worked. He needs to SEE the error of his ways. So I let him think that a revision to his solution was his idea. How? I send him to the grocery with three kids and remind one, “you get to walk next to the cart today like Daddy said!,” or next time he’s about to tackle a big project of his, I set all the kids down and say, “baby just spit up on me I’m getting in the shower, thanks!” When I get out of the shower and they’re watching TV, I don’t have to say I told him so. He knows. I just give him a hug and say that he did a great job finding a way to distract the kids so he can get his job done. He’ll get the hint.
And then we’re the team. Not the opposition. It’s so easy to become the opposition. And it can feel so hard to not fall victim to it. But it’s so worth it to fight for your team.
And that’s my Mommy Decree.