Leslie Beckett is a friend and overall extraordinary person. She’d laugh hearing me say that, but I think highly of her and her husband, Michael. We met at the church where I work, and I’m grateful that Leslie agreed to write a post. You can follow Leslie’s blog, http://lesliebeckett.wordpress.com/.
My Hope for My Husband
When certain close friends of ours first told us the happy news of their pregnancies, Mike and I both smiled widely. My expression stemmed from pure joy for my friends while Mike’s more sinister explanation was that his misery was gaining more company. Don’t get me wrong, he was glad, too. Glad that he would no longer have to hear about them traveling the world, taking advantage of every festival and restaurant the city had to offer, and sleeping in each weekend.
When the awful aroma of dirty diaper hits the air, or a middle of the night cry screams through the monitor, we both try to pretend we don’t smell/hear hoping the other’s parental duty will beckon them to make what’s wrong right. Sometimes we wait a very, very, very long time (maybe Jesus will come back before?), or one of us painfully loses at rock-paper-scissors and has to face the fire.
Our 5 year-old, Ethan, has made it routine to tell Mike before his bedtime story, “Don’t read TOO fast and read ALL the words, please!” He has good reason behind it, too.
Mike is a fairly patient man. It takes a lot to ruffle his feathers. When he raises his voice and has a tone, I know it’s bad because he so rarely does. However, the boys can easily ruffle those feathers, sky rocket that voice, and elicit that tone. World War III then rages as the perpetrator(s) screams and wails in an Oscar-worthy manner after his (their) father has read the riot act in both word and deed. As a 3rd party witness, I find myself later debriefing with Mike about what is helpful (yes, the boys need discipline), what is not (but that method only exacerbates), and what to try next (chill out!). With each of these debriefings, I know that it is easier said than done. If I had a 3rd party view of myself in my time alone with the kids, I would be repeating the same conversation a million times a day. But my husband takes these conversations with humility and the desire to be a better father.
Fatherhood is no joke. My hard-working, intelligent husband is competent in practically every role he has. I think deep down he knows and believes that, too. I would venture to say that when it comes to the challenging role of DAD, he may not be so sure. Most of what I’ve written so far may only seem to confirm those fears. My hope for my husband is that he would know that he is also good in his role as a father despite any inner suspicions suggesting otherwise.
He is able to carry out discipline when I am not. Even if WWIII rages at times, the aftermath is having boys who can listen and know the difference between right and wrong. People have told us that Ethan and Connor are well-behaved. Although it seems hard to believe, I don’t think they are the kind of people who make it a habit to spread falsehoods. If his patience wasn’t tried as a father, I would start to suspect alien abduction and an altering of his humanity.
Ethan says his nightly story-time phrase to his father because, yes, his father may sometimes read too fast or skip some words, but also because he is there. It is routine that Mike eats dinner with him and his brother, gives them both a bath, reads stories, prays and helps put them to bed. Even if his time with them is limited during the weekday, he makes the most of it and is fully a hands-on father. Mike has changed plenty of poopy diapers and gotten up out of bed in the middle of sweet slumber. He never expects me to do more than he. In truth, there came a point that most nightly interventions were carried out by him despite that fact that he would be the first one up in the morning to go to work. And even if he still may give a sinister grin, he is truly glad that his friends will enter not just the pain of parenthood but the immeasurable joys as well. True, he doesn’t travel the world or sleep in or go out as much as he’d like, but he has never exhibited such silliness before as inspired by his boys. He is about as low maintenance of a man as you can get, but becomes the doting father who insists on packing the cumbersome humidifier on road trips (when the trunk is already crammed full of stuff) if it might help relieve a son’s bloody nose. When I had the most unpleasant crisis with Connor in the middle of a work day, he didn’t hesitate to drop everything, grab a cab (he NEVER cabs), come check the poop impaction, and take the bus and train transfer back to the office just to have given me support in tackling the MESS. He loves them. My hope for my husband is that he will know that is what they need from him the most and that he has already and will continue to show that to them. My hope for my husband is that he will know he is competent as a father but as with every challenging role he can trust that his mistakes will not scar beyond the reach of grace (and good therapy) and that his Help is greater than his inadequacies. My hope for my husband is what my hope for every parent including myself is, that he would continue to discover aspects of the Father’s heart in every fatherly experience. As much as it is about raising good and godly children, it is even more about realizing who He is in every way possible.