I was quickly re-indoctrinated into a strange feeling of fatherhood inadequacy in the delivery room awaiting our most recent bundle of joy.
About the time the nurse called out “8 centimeters”, the encouragement I was providing was as useless to my wife as the yoga ball used to calm the pain of her active labor.
I was persistent and, like a little league infielder, my chatter continued through its uselessness –
“Doing great, honey.”
“Looking good, honey”
“You can do it, honey.”
My wife was the star that day. She has been the star most of the days that have followed.
The importance of my wife to our family is constantly re-ingrained during these times as I come back to the realization that I will never be an adequate substitute for her.
That thought does not make me feel deflated or sad. In fact, acknowledging my daddy-inadequacy is really the celebration of all things Mom.
The irreplaceable nature of motherhood is the reason that guys like me love their wives to new depths after having a child. From that moment forward, I’ve been in awe.
The power of my wife to do what I can’t seem to do as well is the reason to celebrate on Sunday.
Mother’s Day, for me, is a two-fold celebration – a day of gratitude and a new chance to be a better dad.
I’m so thankful for the things that my wife does better than me –
My wife is the tear-whisperer. She has an uncanny ability of driving my kids to tears when necessary, quickly soothing them when needed and taking time to be emotional when she recognizes once-in-a-lifetime moments.
My focus on order and timeliness work in opposition to tears in all forms. I have less time for scraped knees. I have difficulty drawing out tears when I really want a lesson to have an impact on my kids. My hurried disposition ensures that I rarely take time to realize when I won’t get a moment back.
I’m the dad that worried about my van being towed instead of taking extra time to walk my daughter to her first kindergarten class. My wife ushered her to the classroom door while wiping a tear away – a moment now crystallized for her.
My wife listens better – taking the time to understand before judging. Hearing the kids out allows her to call “B.S.” with credibility and accuracy.
This Good-Bad Dad is quick to act (or yell). Asking for the full story is often an afterthought.
My wife can separate the bad act from the great kid. When our infant awakens after having kept us up most of the night, my wife greets her with a big, cheery smile – no matter what.
I hold a grudge. My general rule of thumb is that if I’m kept up during two hours of screaming, I need at least six hours to get over it. Even my daughter’s big, gummy, morning smile can’t chip away at my icy, contentious stare the next morning.
My wife provides so much – how do I really tell her I’m noticing?
The ultimate show of my gratitude is to become a better father and husband by virtue of being around my wife’s connection to our children. Nothing is as pure as an interaction where it is clear that only a mother’s voice will do.
Watching that bond tells me that I will never be able to fully replace the qualities my wife brings to our house. I can, however, work to be a closer apprentice – stepping in when Mom’s super powers need a rest or when the 5-on-1 fast-break is a bit too unrelenting.
On Mother’s Day, the best gift I can give is to make a promise to try each day to be better. I’m determined to improve because I have a daily opportunity to learn from the best.
No matter how high I aim, no matter how hard I try, I humbly know that I’ll never be quite as powerful.
That’s why we’ll celebrate this weekend – because no one else is Mom.