Daddy’s house rules: Giving up control at home isn’t always easy
I sat in the library at the Harvard Club in New York City last Sunday evening when my smartphone began to buzz.
I looked at the screen and saw my 5-year-old son’s face. He was lucky enough to get an iPod from his grandmother for Christmas and was quick to figure out how to use the video-chat feature.
I frowned at his image, his down-turned mouth echoing my own—and then I declined the call. Just as I hit the button to close out of the app, the phone buzzed again, but this time it was my 9-year-old daughter messaging me.
“Mom! Mom, are you there? Mom! I need you!”
I rolled my eyes and put my phone back in my pocket, turning my attention back to the complicated presentation happening at the front of the room. As a freelance writer and editor, I’ve spent most of the last eight years working from dining room tables, spare bedrooms and kitchen counters.
But this week I was away from home for a client. Hence, the Harvard Club on a Sunday evening.
My phone buzzed several more times (I lost count at five) before I texted my husband to find out what was going on.
You see, I left him in charge.
It isn’t easy for me to do that, you know. I’m The Mom. You know, I’m the one who has all the doctors’ numbers and dentist-appointment schedules in my head. I’m the one who knows which chicken patty my daughter will tolerate, the one who knows how to cut my son’s apple just so for his lunchbox.
My husband is competent and active in managing our household and parenting our kids. He’s involved and present and terrific, but he’s…you know…Not The Mom.
When I left my job as a misfit refugee journalist wedged into a corporate marketing department to stay home with my first baby, I never imagined I’d be a self-employed entrepreneur a decade later. And, the farther along I get in my career, the more I find my “flexible” schedule is less so.
Lately, I find myself away on planes and trains at least once a month. And this month, January, I will be on the road for 12 days, nine of which will be spent in Munich, Germany.
Just typing that makes me hyperventilate. My husband will be alone! With the children! Without a supervisor!
I kid—mostly. In April 2013, I was critically injured during a routine surgery and confined to the sofa for the better part of the spring. My husband was fully at the helm while I healed. However, I was at home, providing at least verbal backup.
This time, I’ll be more than 3,000 miles away, and my clock will be almost a full day ahead of theirs.
I have to cede control. From Jan. 18-26, it will be Daddy’s House Rules. He does things differently, and that’s good. It’s good for me to let him take the lead. It’s good for him to spend time in my shoes.
It’s good for our kids to see us step out of our “assigned roles” and stretch.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not still hyperventilating.
Amy L. Hatch is a freelancer writer and editor. Her writing has appeared in Messenger-Post Newspapers, the USAirways inflight magazine, AOL, The Huffington Post, Babble, iVillage, BabyCenter and Disney’s BabyZone. She has appeared on FOX News and the Dr. Phil Show as a parenting expert and is the co-founder of chambanamoms.com, a hyperlocal parenting website in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, where she lives with her husband and two children.