There's a new FB group. It's called Daddy Matters and it's great because the daddy sure does matter. In our family, most definitely.
While I do a lot of the grunt work, the soccer mom driving, the coaching and spelling in school, I know for a fact that I am much less crazy and neurotic than I could be and the kids are this great because of Packrat. And yesterday, I am once again, reminded of how he is a great dad. By Mommy standards, there's a lot to be 'eye-rolled' at. But that's sweating the small things. When it really matters, he steps up to the plate, in my opinion, most heroically.
So, for the record, 5 reasons why Packrat is a great dad and by extension of that, a great husband!
1. He takes them off my hands when I really need a break.
I am down with a mother of a ear and sinus infection. That means I am pumped up on enough steroids to rival a horse and enough antibiotics to kill a small colony of germs. As a result, I can very barely stay vertical, let alone tend to JED. He pulls down the blinds, shuts the door and shepherds the kids out of the room. He baked cookies with the older two and horsed around with Muffin.
2. He is my advocate.
Evan has a habit of sitting at the side of my bed in the morning while I am still asleep, to complain about the injustices of the world that have reigned down upon him in the short hour between him and my waking up. Packrat tells him not to disturb me. He chides them when they are rude to me or give me lip and he tells them they have to take care of Mommy. While it benefits me and makes me feel protected, it's also great modelling for JED. They know that Mommy comes first with Papa and that sort of modelling helps them understand what they ought to do in their own relationships. Specifically, for the boys, it's modelling for how they should treat their wives in the future. For Jordan, we hope she ends up with someone who will do the same for her.
3. He does things that mean something to them.
He helps Jordan draw the most complicated of pictures. He buys her blank albeit expensive sketch books for her etchings. He teaches Evan how to Google and sits with him and explores the world of rays (the sea creatures, not the physics ones), missiles and Transformers. He punches holes in boxes so that Muffin can wear a box and walk around with a box over his head. He holds conversations with the older two about things that interest them. He asks Jordan about her latest marriage proposal (and there have been many and that will be a tale for another time) and Evan about his science experiments. He tosses Muffin about and blows raspberries in his belly just to make him holler "again!"
4. He reads to them and gets them to sleep every night.
I work some nights so Packrat is the consistent parent figure at bedtime. It is a tough time for him. He is usually just back from work and exhausted. But he makes it a point to read the book of choice from each one of them. That is 3 books in all and sometimes, these are books that are long-ish. But he does it, with appropriate voices even though he is growing increasingly unconscious. Even when I am around, at least one of the JED kids, will demand that Papa sleeps with him/ her. I don't take offence and in fact see it as a) a sign of great affection and attachment they have to their dad. b) More practically, I only have two arms and it is often difficult to hug and cuddle all 3 kids at the same time.
5. He backs up Mommy.
Because he isn't around more of the time and JED see me and have me most of the day, he isn't the one that metes out the disciplining and punishments mostly. As a result, he is seen as the more benevolent one. But he makes it a point to back me up and whatever I have said, he doesn't challenge and follows up on the disciplining if it is required. So, when they are truly exasperating and I am too exhausted to deal with them anymore, he knows the sound of the sigh and the look in my eyes that are the signal for him to step up and be the bad cop.
Every bit that he takes off my shoulders, is just that little bit easier for me to juggle all those balls in the air. And both of us come from families where our dads were distant figures who went out in the morning and home at night and from the outset, we knew we didn't want that for our kids.
Also, a little further from home but just as close to my heart is the reminder from a counsellor who deals with among many people, troubled teens. He told us that even though it was always seen as important for the mom to be at home, the one most strongest influence in a teen's life that mediates depression, all sorts of anti-social behaviour and suicide is that open relationship with their father.
Is he perfect? Probably not. But in all the ways that do matter, I'm thankful for who he is, to me and to JED.