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May 10, 2014 / Jon Ericson

We really need both parents

It’s been so wonderful to be back home; I had more important things to do than write. But this weekend Joy flew to Virginia for Bob’s graduation and Mother’s Day. So there’s going to be an important person missing from this picture:

Double changing table.

Now I don’t need Joy for diaper changes (thanks Bob!), feedings, bedtime, or playtime. In a pinch, I can even pick out matching clothes. But I can’t replace her nurturing qualities. She had to remind me that the twin’s blankets were in the drier after a restless night without them. Joshua and I dropped the twins off at the nursery for choir practice without their diaper bag. I don’t know how, but I bet if their mom had been here, this wouldn’t have happened:

Nursery mess

This isn’t to say I couldn’t learn to pay attention to such things. But I don’t have the instinct for them. Mothers do. From an early age, it’s easy to spot women who are unfit parents: their children lack basic necessities. The nurturing parent tends to be better at remembering to do things like bring a snack for their toddlers.

Dads are important too. We take out the trash. Men also serve an increasingly important need as a child matures. The ultimate goal of parenting is to create an adult who represents an asset to society. Fathers pack a metaphorical suitcase of necessities when a son or daughter heads off to live on their own. We include lessons on individuality, self-sacrifice, competence, confidence, and so on. (Mothers pack the actual suitcase.) It’s not that one parent can’t take on both roles and do it well. It’s that there’s a constant struggle between wanting your child to be safe and wanting her to be independant.

Last night, I wrestled my boys. After she sized up the situation, Kathryn joined in too. Joshua is getting too strong for me to handle all three easily, but he was so gentle with the twins. They were having the sort of fun you and I have on a rollercoaster: a little bit of fear without a sense of real danger. Isaac in particular enjoyed testing his strength against an adult. It reminded me of the times I wrestled with Dad and Bob when he was a boy.


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