From Emily: My husband wrote this for me, partly for Mother’s Day today, and partly in response to all the hype about a certain magazine article that came out this weekend, and I just had to share it with you.
Blogs are great, but they make being a dad and a husband kind of hard at times. That might sound like whining or like trying to take the easy way out, but you don’t even know what I mean yet, so slow your roll and let me talk this one out.
I am married to a beautiful woman who blogs for a living. This means that she reads many blog posts in addition to writing them. Her Google Reader is astonishingly full and varied.
This is great for lots of reasons and gives her joy for lots of other reasons. My issue is that I can’t compete with the blogosphere or keep up with it either. You see, most men (I say that to make me feel better even if I have no idea of this is true) are a bit slow to follow some of the advice that women grab off the internet and make an immediate commitment to enforce, or try, or experiment with in their homes.
Most men I know get a little overwhelmed when they think of researching cloth diapers, or attachment parenting, or building an outdoor play kitchen out of an armoire their wife saw on Pinterest and added to a special folder of projects for them to complete.
Most guys I know want to be good dads and try and create a balance between work and home life. They want to be intentional with their time at home with their wives and children, and also find the time to do other guy stuff too. But this can be a hard process to navigate.
What the internet, in the form of blogging and reading blogs, does for my wife is it gives her a voice. And it creates a place that is her own and is uniquely focused on her passions, struggles, victories, and defeats in a way that talking with me doesn’t fulfill.
And I think this is a good thing. I really do. I want my wife to feel connected to other women, learn, grow, and be excited to try new things and navigate this journey of being a mom with all the tools that she can possibly get from the world of the blogosphere. It’s just that it takes me a bit longer to get on the same page with the cliff notes version and a link or two that she sends across to me.
It’s not that I don’t care, or want to be excited about the same things she is, I just feel overwhelmed with it all at times. But when I break it down to the base level, what I really struggle with is the fact that there just seems to be so much competition out there that seems counter-intuitive to growth for women, especially moms.
I don’t want to get offended at comments people leave on a post my wife writes, or things people write about in general, for that matter, when they just seem petty or divisive or ignorant. But that is life. People do it outside the internet all day long, so why should it be any different on the blogosphere?
As a dad I haven’t figured out yet how to not get overwhelmed with high-fructose corn syrup, or co-sleeping, or what the infinite numbers and types of cloth diapers do and how to actually attach them effectively to a little booty. I don’t understand how to wrap a baby in all the different sorts of contraptions that are out there, or how to stop tantrums in Target without bribing and embarrassment and feeling a bit like I have no clue.
I am secure in the love that I have for my family and that is more important to me, speaks much deeper to me, than any advice or tips or criticism I could ever get.
What I am getting at is this – I am clueless about a lot of things, I mess up being a parent all the time, I fail my wife and kids and mess up the balance of work and life on a fairly regular basis. But at the end of the day, I know and am confident that I love that woman more than anyone in the whole wide world, and those kids we have I love to the moon and back a million times to infinity.
I might mess a lot of things up, but I love my family so much it hurts. And I am committed to being better at sharing that love and growing as a man and a dad ’til the day I die. Which is to say, I am happy with the life I have and the mistakes I have made, because they are my mistakes and every one of them is an opportunity to grow and love more. I am secure in the love that I have for my family and that is more important to me, speaks much deeper to me, than any advice or tips or criticism I could ever get.
Being a parent is the hardest job in the world because you have so much responsibility and are never prepared for that responsibility no matter what you have read or thought about or heard from anyone else. This is not a competition where some people win and the other ones lose solely based on the things you follow, or do, or how good you are at cleaning a house, making dinner, or wrestling a toddler away from the candy isle at Costco.
There is nothing about being a parent that is a competition even though our world seems to call us to compete and measure ourselves against a standard that does not really exist and would never really fulfill us if it did.
In real life, just like the blogosphere, at the end of the day you are what your kid wants. You are the biggest, best hero your toddler has ever seen. You are more important than any action hero, or game, or princess doll, or play set. You are more important than any advice you read in an article that makes you question your ability or causes you to feel less than the awesomeness of who you are.
My wife is the queen of the world I live in with two little ones and another on the way soon. She is the best mom our kids could ever ask for or need, and the best wife I could ever have, because she loves us, is committed to us, and lives each day in a selfless way, so that she can be who she is and give deeply from that well of love she has.
I don’t ever want tips and techniques to bog her down or make her feel like she needs to do more or be more. I don’t want a blog post, or a Time Magazine cover story, to make her feel defeated, or demeaned, or less than the best part about our lives, which is what she is. I don’t want her to try and feel like she needs to measure up to some standard. I just want her, every bit of her, mistakes and all, and that is what our kids want to.
And at the end of the day, when you take away all the fluff and the block out all the noise, bury the criticism and the competition, I bet that is all your kids want too.