Originally published December 8, 2021.
The secret to a good parenting partnership is for parents to play to their strengths. For instance, my wife is organized, diligent, loving, and caring. She’s great at staying on top of all the responsibilities that come with raising children. She schedules their activities, orders their sports equipment, keeps in touch with their teachers, and makes sure they have clothes that fit. And while she’s doing those things, I keep our two sons entertained in the other room with a good, old-fashioned wrestling match.
I would do a lot of that other stuff, but I’m just not as good as her at those things. It’s really hard to keep track of all those different activities, and she’s got it all figured out. You should see her spreadsheets! My mind just doesn’t work that way, so it doesn’t even make sense for me to try and learn at this point. Why reinvent the wheel? Plus, she’s not very good at wrestling. So why make her do it? We’ve worked out a great dynamic by sticking to what we’re good at. She takes care of their daily needs, and I handle the roughhousing.
A lot of this goes back to how we were raised. Her parents placed a lot of value on conscientiousness and discouraged her from roughhousing. They made sure she stayed on top of her schoolwork, took care of a lot of household work, and encouraged her to get involved with things like student council. They preached responsibility. At least with her, that is. Her brother isn’t quite so conscientious. Not sure what happened there. He’s pretty good at wrestling too. Not as good as me, mind you, but still pretty good.
Roughhousing is also hard for her because she’s so tired in the evenings. I don’t know if it’s her diet or what, but she just doesn’t have as much energy as I do. By the time she leaves work, runs whatever errands she needs to run, and picks up the kids from the afterschool activities she planned for them, she’s exhausted. I try to be understanding about it, though. This is why I help her take a load off by wrestling with the kids while she unpacks the groceries, makes dinner, sets the table, and serves the food. And then, sometimes, I’ll wrestle with them some more after dinner (if I’m not too full) while she does the dishes and cleans up the kitchen. We’re a great team.
I don’t want to brag too much, but it’s not just roughhousing I’m good at. I’m also good at making forts, watching sports, playing video games, and shooting Nerf guns. There are a lot of times when my wife says, “We need to clean the house,” so I take the kids to see a movie or to the arcade and give her some much-needed free time to dust and vacuum. Sometimes the other dads give me a hard time for being such an active father, but I don’t worry about it. When we had kids, we agreed to split up the responsibilities and that’s what we’re doing.
It’s not that I can’t cook, by the way. According to the kids, I’m actually pretty good at it. If my wife has something else going on, I’ll take over and make them some mac and cheese. I might even throw some hot dogs in there if I’ve got time. The kids love it. They appreciate the break from the fruits and vegetables she’s always trying to get them to eat. Sometimes on special occasions, I’ll really go all out. Just the other day, I made them sloppy joes while my wife was at their parent-teacher conferences. Like I said: marriage is a partnership, and we’ve got it all figured out.
Now, sometimes the kids get hurt when we roughhouse. It doesn’t usually happen, but when it does, my wife is always there to help with their boo-boos. That maternal instinct kicks in, and she’ll come running from whatever she’s doing to take care of them, even if it means skipping the book club she’s been so excited for because she finally found time to read the book and hasn’t spent time with adult friends in over a month. That’s how dedicated she is. She knows that we each have our strengths and that one of hers is taking care of those minor bumps and scrapes. That’s what makes us a great team.
And when the day is done, she’s really good at putting the kids to bed too. It can be tough to get them to sleep, because they are wound up by that point. It’s not their fault. They’ve been playing pretty hard with me up until bedtime and they just aren’t ready to go to sleep. I would help her out, but by that point, I’m usually pretty tired from all the wrestling.