For almost four years it has been me who has put my oldest son, Chase, to bed each night. When the second son, Wesley, came along it was the intent that daddy would put Chase to bed and I would tend to the baby. A year later I was still assuming my mommy duties with Chase. He still insisted I put him to bed each night. Some of these nights included some screaming and crying...a little from him and from me. I would find myself sitting on the edge of his bed, rubbing his back, while nursing Wesley. It was either this or listen to blood curdling cries for "mommy" while I laid in bed and attempted to ignore the pain inside me from the sound of my son's voice. It would make me sad not to be by his side. I would find a way to get him to bed. I became a master at juggling around bedtime.
Then a switch went off in the middle of November. Jason, otherwise known as daddy, had just got back from being gone on a hunting trip for eight days. This is something he does each year yet now that Chase is almost four it was the first year that he was affected by him not being around. He missed his daddy. There was even a day he just started crying. I could feel my heart shattering at the sight of his little face crying. I just hate seeing my children cry.
Finally daddy came home from his trip and Chase was ecstatic. Jay and I wondered how the bedtime routine would go. Mommy had gone soft and allowed both boys to be in bed with me the entire time Jay was gone. We joked that since Jay was the one who left, he would be the one to put Chase to sleep in his bed again. That first night we braced ourselves for screaming, crying, and flailing body parts. Much to our our surprise it was the complete opposite. Instead as I waited in bed snuggled in with Wesley, I heard giggling and the sound of Jay telling Chase a story. A half hour later Jason emerged from Chase's room to report that he was sleeping. It was a miracle in our eyes.
This pattern has continued through the month of November into December. Most nights, not all, Jay has been the one to put Chase to bed. It was as if someone flipped a switch. There are still some nights we get the occasional crying for mommy to put him to bed. There are also some nights which it takes daddy a long time to get Chase to bed resulting in "chasing" him (we named him appropriately!) as he tries to run into our bed to get to me. Finally, after the chasing, more milk, more food, and another story...Chase is asleep.
Here's the thing I must admit: I miss putting him to bed. There it is, I said it! Even though juggling both boys can be exhausting, I like the moments that bedtime can bring. I believe it is important that daddy share in these roles as a parent. Chase is fortunate to have a father who takes part in his life. I am fortunate to have a partner to share parenting with. Though there are times I feel like co parenting is like being a passenger in a moving vehicle. I would rather be the driver than sit in the passenger seat. It is the same with parenting. Sometimes I find myself cringing as though I am afraid we are going to go head on in traffic. I have to stop myself from interfering or mediating a certain situation. I am learning how to let dad, be dad.
Just like Wonder Woman would have done for Superman, I need to empower Jason and let him share in the parenting duties. I need him to empower me in my parenting role. It's not me against him. It is us, side by side, doing this crazy thing called parenting together. It is supporting one another, cheering the other on, and letting the other one make their own mistakes. We are doing this as a team. Raising children isn't for wussies!