Sunday afternoon, I had some school work to grade, so Chris took the kids outside with him to work in the yard and leave me in peace. It was just what I needed to get caught up.
About an hour later, I realized I hadn’t heard from anyone in a while, so I went outside to check on them. I stepped out onto the back deck and found all three of them standing in the yard. Each was holding their own pair of garden shears.
Yes, garden shears.
You know, those giant Edward Scissorhand-like garden shears that you use to cut down tree branches and shrubbery.
I gasped out loud and Chris must have heard the noise because he turned up and saw me.
“Wave to mom, guys!” he told the kids. All three of them looked up at me with smiles and dirt on their faces. Happy as clams.
“We’re having a great time!” Chris called to me, waving.
Quickly, I went through the Mom List: Are they hurt? No. Are they about to be hurt? Well… not necessarily… Were they hurting someone else? No. Was there an adult with them? Technically. Were they happy? Yes.
Every fiber in my being wanted to yell out, “PUT THOSE DOWN! ARE YOU INSANE?!?!” But I held my tongue, waved back to them, and walked back inside. Chris is a good parent. Regardless of what it might have looked like to my mommy mind, I trusted him enough to know that they were being safe.
For Chris and I, fatherhood is different than motherhood. To me, motherhood is about boundaries and safety and care and wellbeing and…well…survival. But, to Chris, fatherhood is more about exploring and investigating and trying things and dirt. That doesn’t mean that I don’t encourage imagination and creativity. I absolutely do, and I know how important it is for our kids to experience things for themselves. And it doesn’t mean that Chris isn’t ever tender with our children. He is the most loving, kindhearted dad to them. It just means that those are the natural tendencies that we each gravitate towards. And it is really hard sometimes for each of us to take our own hats off and trust the other’s way of doing things.
When the kids were littler, I used to try to stop a lot more often when he would get a bit too “hands on learning” for my taste. (Perhaps we should not let the toddler “explore” the garage where the table and circular saws are set up.) But as the kids have gotten bigger and as Chris has continued to blossom into fatherhood, I’ve learned that sometimes the best things I can do as a mom is to keep my mouth shut.
Chris gives them experiences that I would never think to give. He provides a whole new look on the world for them to take in. And, you know, he’s a darn good role model for them, too. He and the kids have a relationship all their own. It’s very different from my relationship with them. And I love that. I love that about Chris and I love that for my kids.
Fatherhood looks good on Chris. And it looks good on his kids, too.