The Importance of Dad
Nothing creates appreciation for something like not having it anymore.
Several months ago our family got our marching orders (literally) to pack up and move to the northeast. My husband had been selected to complete an OMS residency and at the end of January we found out we were accepted to a six year program in New Jersey. Shortly thereafter we found out that we had another little one on it’s way to our family.
The next five months were filled with craziness. My husband was trying to study for a test that he had to take in May. We planned (and took) a month long vacation traveling to various family members on the west coast, knowing it may be six or more years before we would see any of them again.
And then there was the packing, the morning sickness, the organizing, the morning sickness, the cleaning and the morning sickness.
During that time, Matt was home a lot. We had his constant companionship during our month long vacation, then he was home all through the move and up until July 1st, when he started his residency. Other than a few errands here and a few days of orientation there we had Dad with us pretty much every moment.
I have always enjoyed the company of my husband, but I can also tell that I didn’t really appreciate his presence as much as I should have.
Since he started his residency, Matt’s time with us has been limited and sporadic. In his previous job, we would see him just before breakfast and he would come home between 4:30 and 5:30 every day with every other Friday off.
We were so spoiled.
Now he leaves before any of us get up in the morning and comes home long after dinner has been served (if he can even come home at all.) Not only does he not have every other Friday off anymore, but he rarely gets to be home for both Saturday and Sunday. Just to give you an idea, he was on call on Tuesday, was seeing patients all night long, then had to work all day Wednesday. He came home a little early Wednesday evening when I was out with the kids and was asleep by the time we got home. When he doesn’t have to be sleeping or in school, he has to be studying. He has zero free time.
I have to admit that I am finding it difficult not to feel sorry for myself when I have to go to bed alone when I should just be grateful I get to go to bed at all. I also have to remind myself that just because he’s gone all day doesn’t mean he can be “home” when he is home.
For those of you who have been reading me for a while, you know that naturally I am a very selfish person. I am finding this experience has proven no different. I find myself trying to think of new ways to distract myself in the evenings when he “should” be home and on those lonely nights when I triple check the locks on the doors and jump at every sound. I think of how much I need him to help me with the boys, to chase after a two year old who thinks “come here, Jack” is code for “run away giggling as fast as you can” or to wash the big dishes by hand because my belly is too big for me to lean over the sink. I moan and complain about how he gets a whopping three days off when the baby is born and I’m honestly wondering how I am going to deal with running a house with five children less than a week after having major abdominal surgery. I wasn’t really until last night that I even started to think about how the kids were dealing with this or how Matt hates not being more a part of our lives.
For the most part the kids have really done well. They aren’t acting up, mostly I think because they do get to see him most days. He’s not deployed and if there were an emergency he could be here in a pinch. I can tell they miss him, though. Jack has always been “daddy’s boy” and if any of the kids are acting up, it would be him. He doesn’t listen or obey, he thinks everything is a game and has started hitting. It’s been so long since I’ve had a two year old that I can’t remember if this is normal or not.
Spencer asks about Dad and wants to wrestle as soon as Matt walks in the door.
Emma is always asking me to text him about her loose tooth, or when she read a book or finished a difficult lesson.
I don’t think any of the kids miss him as much as Lucy. We talk about how little kids need their Daddy’s but I wonder why more people don’t talk more about how much older kids need them. Lucy knows what is going on. She knows he has to study really hard and for a long time. She knows he is gone so long because he has to learn so much. She knows that once he is finished, he will be able to help fix the faces of the soldiers who have been hurt. I have honestly never seen a child look up to her father so much. I mentioned to you when I explained this year’s science curriculum that it would be pretty self-directed and that she could study whatever she wanted. You would think that a nine year old would want to do as little as possible, and maybe your average nine year old would, but in an attempt to connect with her dad, she has chosen to study more on human biology. In less than a month she has completed half of the Human Body curriculum in the online program she has been using. Without fail, when Matt is home she can be seen sitting at his feet either listening to him read The Hobbit (when he can), listening to him tell her what surgeries he scrubbed in on that day or, more often than not, he is reading and highlighting in his books and she is on the computer or iPad taking tests and learning more about anatomy and physiology. She wants to “do science” together with him. She wants to study when he studies and study what he is studying.
I can tell how much they miss and need him by how well they behave when he is around. Last night after Jack went to bed, the rest of us gathered in the school room. Matt was in one chair, reading and highlighting, Lucy was on the floor with the iPad and Emma and Spencer laid on their bellies looking at books. I was amazed at how quiet and peaceful it was because it certainly isn’t that quiet and peaceful with me during the day. We were all content to just be in his presence.
It is not going to be this way forever. They say the first year is the hardest and when he starts med school next year he is supposed to have much more time. Besides, a few years of limited Daddy time is not going to scar my kids for life.
I also know how much better I have it than a lot of women. I am reminded of my sisters in the military who’s husbands are gone for months or years at a time. I think of those brave women who, either through death or divorce, have to raise their children entirely on their own. I think of the women of the past who had to say goodbye to their husbands so they could take a job far away or serve a mission for years at a time, leaving their wives and children behind.
We are so spoiled these days and unfortunately I see many of the women of today take the men in their life for granted. I’m not going to deny the positive effects of the feminist movement, but nor will I ignore the negative effects. One glaring truth is that since the “woman’s lib” movement husbands, fathers and men in general have been demonized. There are far to many women who, for the sake of “equality” have turned men into selfish, brainless beings that can’t do anything on their own. When was the last time you watched a sitcom when the leading male wasn’t a bumbling idiot or sex crazed maniac? While claiming they want to be seen as people and not as objects, far too many woman objectify the men in their lives by dismissing them and their important contributions to our society.
I am a far better person because I have Matt in my life than I would be without him and I know he feels the same way about me. We cherish each other and are grateful for what the other person does for our us and our family. I wish I could say that the majority of women I know felt the same way about their husbands.
I know too many couples, young couples especially, who dismiss their husbands. I see them at church on Sunday or at the park with their kids or at “girl’s night”. They glare at their men and talk to them like they are idiots. They gossip about their husbands to their girlfriends and love to count their husband’s mistakes instead of their virtues.
Matt is not perfect. But neither am I. He doesn’t abuse me in any, way, shape or form. He does not exercise “unrighteous dominion” over me. He supports me in all of my crazy ideas (like me wanting to build a new dining room table and my ever growing book collection) and he has raised his voice to me once for every 100 times I yell at him. What right have I to speak poorly of him to other people?
Life is hard these days. We all miss him and it’s not easy being the sole parent in the home for all but one or two hours a day, if that. But why should he sacrifice time, money and gray hairs to allow me to follow my dreams if I am unwilling to sacrifice time, money and gray hairs to let him follow his? I am willing to admit that Matt is not your average man and that by some miracle, I married the very best man who has ever or will ever live. But shouldn’t all wives feel that way?
I also admit that there are some evil men out there. There are some men who are awful to their wives and children and should even be in jail for the way they have treated them. There are men who belittle their wives and treat them like scum. I believe they are the exception rather than the rule. I know several people who are no longer married, some of whom were beaten and belittled. But the majority of divorces I have seen in my life have been at the hand of a selfish woman who got bored.
Most men want their wives and kids to be happy and do whatever they can to make that happen. But if we insist on finding fault in everything they do, they will eventually stop trying.
Men are not complicated, but that doesn’t mean they are simple. They just need to feel appreciated, loved and cherished just like we do. Treat your men like men, not like dogs and accept that he is going to want to protect and take care of you! Roll with it! Why on earth would anyone fight such an awesome instinct? For pride? To prove that you don’t “need” a man? That is stupid and you are making life hard for yourself. Let him take care of you and do your best to take care of him. If you don’t know how, the book The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands is a really good place to start.
Some may look at our traditional home and think that I’m a poor little brainwashed girl. They clearly don’t know us. We are equal partners in our family and marriage. Before you look at me and think that I’m oppressed, maybe you should look at your husband and see if he is.
This started out as a post about how my kids miss their dad and ended up an anti-neo-feminist rant sure to offend half of my readers and half of my family.
But that’s how I roll 🙂