Every year I leave town for a few days to attend a conference. In addition to my wife’s usual role “making the dough,” during these three or four days she also takes on my role: “running-the-shit-show.”
While at my conference I always learn a few things, but, it never fails, I learn just as much at home once I return from my trip. For example, upon returning, my wife told me all the things my kids did for themselves without any help from her. Most of these were out of necessity as she was trying to get herself ready for work, but nonetheless my kids did them without parental assistance nonetheless. Now I’m wonder if they’ve outgrown me.
When I’m at home, I get up well before my kids’ alarms (even though my son, Middle Man. is part robot and requires little sleep and is usually up anyway) to cook them breakfast. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not making pastries from scratch or gourmet meals, but I make eggs, sausage, pancakes, and some days granola, cereal, etc.
While my wife was in charge, my oldest daughter, First Born, make all the breakfasts every day. And I’m not going to lie, I’ve had her scrambled eggs, and they taste better than mine.
When I’m home, my other daughter, Blonde Bomber, asks for help getting dressed every single day. It doesn’t matter that she will get herself dressed and undressed 25 times playing dress-up, but dressing herself in reality rarely happens. When my wife was home running the show, Blonde Bomber got herself dressed, no questions asked. Talk about frustrating.
This got me thinking: Do my kids ask me for help, simply because they always have? Do I do more for my kids than I need to for my own sake? As a stay-at-home parent, this is difficult to wrap my brain around. My “job” is to take care of my kids, to do things for my kids. It has been this way since Day One. Now, the requirements of my job are changing. My kids now need me to do less for them. Instead, they need me there for them and they need me to teach them.
However, the more I teach them, the less they need me. See the trickiness of the situation I now find myself in?
A version of this first appeared on Indy’s Child.