I have a little story about how Watson the Robot, Sniffer, and the Pilot all came to live at our house.
You see, I didn’t realize I had expectations for how I would be as a mom until I became a mom… and I didn’t meet those expectations. I also wasn’t aware that I had expectations for my husband and how he would be as a dad until he didn’t meet those expectations either! I clearly need to work on my self-awareness!
In my mind, I was going to be so positive and laid-back, firm but loving… sort of Mary Poppins-ish with more tenderness. Then my first daughter was born via emergency c-section, early and tiny, and we were supposed to move back overseas with her. I was a nervous wreck. And my emotions and hormones were all over the place! This hovering, uptight, emotional person was not the mom I had pictured at all.
And of course my husband was supposed to always be available to us. The minute he was done with work, he would want nothing other than to do all the dishes and take care of babies all evening. It would be so great! But then it turned out that he actually had interests and endeavors outside of work and family. Once again, this was not the beautiful movie that had been playing in my mind.
I am slow to accept real life. But I am gradually accepting my own shortcomings as a mom. I’m learning to embrace my quirks and cut myself some slack. And I’ve realized, I have to do the same for my husband.
When my girls were just babies, they needed so much from me. I nursed them, I carried them in my wrap, and I read their cues for whether they were hungry or tired or over-stimulated. Sometimes it’s a challenge to involve Dad with small babies and we moms get impatient with this imbalance. In my case, even when he would try to help, I’d hover and drive him nuts. You are smarter than I am, I’m sure, and know not to do this!
As we graduated from the baby stage, a transition took place. There was more for a dad to do and less for an anxious mom like me to stress about (well, that’s debatable, but don’t give me other reasons to worry please). Enter my friend Watson the Robot to the scene. Just when I was about to lose my mind, Watson or the Pilot or some other character would come to the rescue! At the end of the day when I’ve checked out, Dad, AKA Watson, gives commands. A completely resistant, defiant child becomes compliant and up-beat when Watson the Robot (in a monotone, computerized voice), tells her to brush her teeth. I can’t say why these characters work – I don’t know if it’s a phenomenon specific to our children – but they do! And it still works at their current ages of 6 and 3. (I have a hunch it works with other kids too. More on using puppets and characters to skirt defiance another time!)
So as this Father’s Day approaches, I’m grateful for Sniffer, the Pilot, and Watson. I don’t care that the dishes are piled in the sink (deep breath, brief Zen moment) because Watson’s got my back. And although the picture in my head of the dad my husband would be is different than the real one, I think I’ll take the real one instead. Life often blasts away our expectations, but I’m really loving this Watson guy. Robot or otherwise.
Happy Father’s Day, Dads.