Let me start this by saying, I’m a guy. It is what it is. It’s how God made me. I like manly things. It’s easy for me to be rough. I wrestle with the kids, and win – most of the time. If you come to me with a problem, my instinct is to try to fix it. I’m better at eating than I am at cooking. Cleaning doesn’t come naturally to me, and when my daughter mentions the word “boys” I instinctively reach for my shotgun. I am who I am. It’s how God made me.
Because I’m a guy, there are certain things that seem to come natural to me. For example, I’ve been told that I’m a pretty good Dad. I’m Not bragging. It’s just what I’ve been told. Conversely, there are certain things that do not come natural to me. Like, for example, being a mom. That’s why God gave me a wife – even if just for a little while.
My wife was my perfect match. She was awesome at everything I wasn’t, and if she couldn’t do it then I probably could. This “yin & yang” relationship applied to most everything. Especially parenting. She was a great mom, all the way up to the day she passed. She took her last breath while holding the kids hands.
My wife had an amazing amount of patience with the kids. She loved them, and was able to connect with them on a completely different level than I. Whether it was helping them with homework, comforting them when they got hurt or trying to imagine “the perfect wedding,” she was always there, ready to make them feel special. I, on the other hand, was known by all as “the Drill Sergeant.” You can probably imagine how I got that nickname, and the difference between my wife’s relationship with the children and mine.
I find it amazing how God plans things. He brought my wife and I together for a reason. We were a perfect fit. We went together like peas & carrots. She was the chocolate in my vanilla, the sugar in my coffee. She made everything – better.
Mark 10:6-8 (NIV) states “But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
It all makes sense, especially when you get to look at it retrospectively. I have the benefit of having experienced what it’s like when “the two become one flesh.” It just works. There are certain traits that men and women have that the other does not. Women are just naturally more nurturing than men. That’s why when we get hurt, we naturally want Mom. On the other hand, men were built more for battling and protecting. It’s what we’re good at and requires a thicker, less sensitive side. We somehow aren’t bothered when the kids start crying after they fall down. Our natural response is to say something to the effect of “suck it up and drive on”, while Mom bends over to kiss the booboo and “make them feel better” – ugh, gag me please!
So if we are so much better together, then what are we supposed to do when we suddenly find ourselves without our “other half.” Or, in my case, my “better half.”
Study after study has shown that when a person loses the use of one of their senses (vision, hearing, etc.), the other senses become enhanced to pick up where the other can no longer contribute. For example, if someone loses their vision, then typically their hearing becomes enhanced. It’s a body’s natural response to the loss of the other sense.
I would argue that the same applies when we lose our “other half”. When Dad now has to play the part of Mom, or vice versa. It doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it takes a lot of practice, prayer and patience. But eventually, we develop that sense. The ability to take a step back and ask ourselves “what does the situation need at this moment? A mom? Or a dad?” And in my case, it lets me know when to throw – the “Mom Switch.”
Being a Mom is totally different from being a Dad. It’s not easy as a Dad trying to “play Mom.” For starters, there’s no instruction manual. I looked. There really isn’t one. So the best I could do was try to remember what my wife would have done in circumstances needing a Mom rather than a Dad. In these times, I usually ask myself “what would she have done” and then try to picture her sitting there doing what she did best: being a Mom. Then, I throw the Mom switch and go to work.
There are several circumstances where I find myself playing mom. My kids tell me that after four years of practice, I’ve gotten a lot better at it. I on the other hand, still feel inadequate as a mom, and much more comfortable in my role as a Dad. That being said, I do feel that I’ve won a few victories in my role as “Mr. Mom.”
When my wife was alive, we did a great job of tag teaming when it came to Alexys and the topic of boys. She would sit down and talk about how great it is to be in love and how wonderful the wedding day would be. They would look at wedding dresses and get all gushy and weepy. It was sickening to watch;but as long as they didn’t say anything about me sitting there with a shotgun in my lap, I was okay with it.
So, how do I tackle this situation now as a dad playing mom? Well, I can assure you that I haven’t discussed a wedding day or dress. We haven’t gushed or gotten weepy over anyone who just happened to be “the cutest guy ever!”
What I was able to do was put the shotgun away and force myself to come to the understanding that my little girl won’t be little forever. One day (later rather than sooner) she will find a guy that she wants to “go out” with. When this happens, she’s going to tell someone who will likely give her advice. I wanted that person to be me. So I had to throw the Mom switch, even if only halfway. And that meant making myself available for “boy talk.” We do this often, fortunately. I don’t like to brag about much, but I think most would agree that a daughter talking to her Father about boys is a pretty big win.
Just to be fair, I’m still a dad. I can be quite insensitive at times. Not intentionally of course. I’m not trying to be mean, I’m just a little slow to throw the Mom Switch sometimes. That’s all. I mean, the fact that I take pleasure in watching Andrew squirm for a couple seconds before blowing on the scraped up knee I just poured peroxide on doesn’t make me a bad person. Does it?
Okay, all kidding aside. This is a real obstacle. My wife was quite good at recognizing the difference between crocodile tears and real tears. She had a sense about her that would tell her when the kids needed comforting as apposed to a lesson in tough love. It’s this part that I seem to have the hardest time with. When the tears start flowing, I instinctively think, “Really? Why are you crying?” It’s in times like this that I have to take that step back and decide if they need dad? Or a mom? Then decide if it’s time to throw the Mom Switch, or sit back and enjoy the show.
God gave us all kinds of senses. Those senses all have a purpose. They’re all responsible for their own things. So, too, He made men & women, moms and dads,both with their own strengths. Nobody ever said that life was going to be peaches and cream. There’s no expectation of perfection or trouble-free living. It’s life. Things happen. The questions is, what do we do when problems find us? Do we curl up in a fetal position and wallow in self pity? Or throw the Mom switch and get to work?
I choose to throw the Mom Switch and get to work.