Originally published WNC Parent Magazine
Ask one of our boys who usually does the cooking in American households, the mom or the dad, and chances are they’ll go with the dad. Since I work from home, it’s only natural that my duties include cooking and cleaning and other chores traditionally associated with women. But don’t call it “woman’s work” around me or you’ll have a fight on your hands. I’m a darn good househusband and proud of it.
But that doesn’t make me a mom. And buckets and buckets of hormones won’t ever make it so, either.
For the most part, I don’t think we dads have the patience to be mothers. The other night Mona was well overdue from putting Graham down for the evening. I stuck my head in his bedroom door to find a sobbing little boy sitting up in bed, his mother next to him. “You can tell, Dad,” she told him. “No, you,” he replied.
Turns out Graham was upset over someone we know with a life-threatening disease. I guess he didn’t want to tell me because he knows his Dad isn’t always Mr. Sensitivity, but that his Mom is as sensitive as the universe is long. And while he poured out his feelings, I tried to comfort him, told him to think what Pastor Buzz said about the worst that could ever happen to us was that we would die and be with Jesus.
Sure, I wanted to make him feel better and get through his grief. But I also wanted to go to bed. His Mom just wanted him to get through his grief and would have sat there all night if needed.
We dads usually just want our children to get up, shake off the pain, get back on the horse that threw them, get back in the game. And some of that attitude will likely serve them well in the years ahead. But moms just want the world to stop and to hold their children, not until the pain is forgotten, but until the pain is gone.
And we dads don’t always set the best example for our kids. It’s just so long a dad can listen to his sons with their wimpy little boy burps before he roars out what the old man can do. And what dad hasn’t … well, we won’t go there.
But moms usually aren’t burpers. They’re healers. There is no medicine as powerful or as soothing as a mother’s kiss. And what few comforts are as sure in life as a mother’s hug.
I know most, if not all, of the moms reading these words have probably read their children “Love You Forever.” (And probably most, if not all of the Dads reading this, have poked fun at the book as well.) There’s a mom rocking her sleeping infant in his bedroom, and later rocking him as a child and adult. (Hello, 911, there’s an intruder who just entered through my bedroom window, drug me out of bed and is pulling me toward a rocking chair.)
As she rocks her sleeping child, she says,
“I’ll love you forever.
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.”
I really do understand why moms like that book so much. For most dads, our babies grow up to be our sons and daughters. But for moms, their sons and daughters will always be their babies. Even on her deathbed, I know my Mom was more worried about her children than herself. Maybe the prodigal son did come home to his dad. Coming home to his mom makes more sense, though.
Don’t get me wrong, dads have their place. But speaking for this Dad, I will never have a smidgen of the patience, forgiveness, and tenderness as a parent that my wife has. And try as I might, and I believe all dads try, I’ll never be a mom.
A wise person once said, “God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.”
To which I say, “Amen.”