Everything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

wonder woman coffee cupMy husband put the kids to bed. Let me type that sentence again, because frankly, it is mystifying to me.

My husband put the kids to bed.

And he did it with absolutely no fuss or fluster from the kids. In addition to this parenting feat of brilliance, he also managed to keep the house orderly, save me some dinner, and had a glass of wine waiting for me for when I got back from teaching my first class in more than a year.

I haven’t left my house for anything non-child related in so long that I was actually nervous about being in public without an infant and four year-old. How would I conduct myself with no one to threaten time outs to? Would I remember to stand still and not start swaying my hips on autopilot like I do to put the baby to sleep? While teaching would I accidentally slip into my Mom voice? Or worse…give the Stink Eye?

Before I left for class I had rushed through the house making sure that everyone would survive arsenic hour without me. The kids had a movie queued up. Dinner was in the oven. Favorite pajamas and toys were set out. I feared for my husband’s sanity, but I grabbed the car keys and left for class crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t arrive home to Armageddon.

It felt AMAZING to be teaching a class. I had five students and we chatted and shared and learned together. I left feeling like I had accomplished something. I remembered that there was once a time when I did stuff…like talk to other adults without the vocal Mom*tick. You know what I mean? Half way through a sentence the Mom voice erupts and starts barking out orders to stand up straight, stop poking your brother in the eye, get that dirty whatever thing out of your mouth? That tick.

When I arrived home I made sure to close the car door as quietly as possible. I snuck up the driveway and tiptoed my way to the front door. I turned the knob and snuck inside while sweating in fear that I would over excite the dogs and wake up everyone in the house, that incidentally, surely had to be falling apart without me.

In our house I am the voice of authority and routine. I am the finder of lost toys and the fixer of hurt feelings. I am the one who sings songs and tells jokes. I am a caped super Mom heroine.

In contrast, my husband is the fun one. He launches children into the air to fly across the couch and land on a pile of pillows. He can teach the kids to burp the alphabet or how to get the dogs to shake hands for treats. He makes messes, is loud, and can spark explosive giggling simply by entering the room.

Naturally, I had little to no faith that this particular evening was going to end well. But I was wrong. My husband did my job better than me. Most of me was deeply thankful and impressed. But part of me was puzzled and hurt that it went so well and smooth.

I had come to believe that no one around this house could survive without me. Bedtime had required my Mom expertise, hadn’t it? Wasn’t Dad the fun parent who got everyone into trouble and covered in dirt, and wasn’t I the one who cleaned up the mess and then fed and soothed and comforted everyone?

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful and excited that this went so well because it means more opportunity for me to run fleeing for my independence for a few hours at a time when the need strikes. I can know that my man is holding down the fort. I just wish that he wouldn’t do it so much better than I do.

Just when my ego was feeling battered by my husband’s surprise success; my son said this to me over breakfast:

Kid: Mom, I don’t like it when you leave at bedtime. I missed you.
Mom: I missed you too. I heard you had a lot of fun.
Kid: Yeah, but it was not good.
Mom: Oh?
Kid: Yeah, Dad isn’t you. I always need my Mom.
Mom: (trying not to gush) I always need you too, sweetie. Now, please pick up your spoon off the floor.

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Sarah Cottrell is a member of the Stay-At-Home-Mom Club and proud herder of two loud boys. She earned her MFA in 2012 and then accidentally washed it in a load of laundry. Sarah's work can be found on popular websites like Mamalode, BlogHer, and Scary Mommy. Her work will appear in two new parenting anthologies in 2015.