The Mystery of Fatherhood

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.

Yeah, those.


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.


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10 Thoughts to “The Mystery of Fatherhood”

  1. Oh my gosh, I see myself in this so much. I know I’ll spend a lot of the parenting years (at least the early ones) biting my tongue. I know I’ll have to remind myself to trust my husband. And I know it’ll be dang near impossible to do so. Good for you for being able to!

  2. Stephanie

    When my boys were little, I asked an older woman at church what she did to raise such a wonderful young man. She told me “Let his Daddy make him a man” That was some of the best advise I ever got. There have been times I have went into the bedroom and shut the door, times I have bit my tongue but not any I regret. I might have even said something to dad later but no in front of them. They really do need Dad too. God made us different for a reason.

  3. you and chris make an awesome pair together. i find myself doing the same sort of things that you do (heck, my “child” is 13 and he’s not even technically mine-i;m the pseudo-step-mom!)

  4. Jaclyn Armstrong

    I love this! I can definitely relate and am trying to be a little less controlling in my own family.

  5. It’s all about balance. Mike and I are actually opposite from you and Chris. I’m the one who is more “go explore, get dirty, fall down” but I do usually keep Sullivan away from circular saws. Mike is more by-the-book although he did let the kid play with a screw driver last week. Go figure.

  6. Erin R.

    I liked “Was there an adult with them? Technically.” I feel the same way about my husband sometimes!

    1. Sheila

      Lol! That was my favorite line as well!

  7. Kat

    This: Was there an adult with them? Technically.
    I literally laughed out loud.

    Also. I’m still learning to keep my mouth shut. And by learning I mean, i know I should but I don’t.

    1. Allison P.

      I laughed out loud at that line as well. Loved it!

  8. Katy

    I have been searching your blog for one particular post that you wrote months ago and I haven’t had any luck finding it. If you could please let me know where your post about making phone calls to your students parents in class is I would love to share it with my husband (Mike). This is my husband’s first full year in the classroom as an intervention specialist and his students are on his mind / heart constantly. He has a lot of kids that don’t have the greatest home live and just need someone to love on them. For some reason when I was sleeping the other night I remembered your post about calling parents during class and thought that this is something that could have a positive impact on his students.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your life with all of us…it is a breath of fresh air!! Give Gracie Girl and Bean a hug from Ohio!!

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