Dear Super Observant Man at the Pool,
Please allow me to begin by saying that I completely appreciate the fact that you took the time to let me know how much you enjoyed watching my husband frolic and play with our boys in the pool. He certainly does have fun with them and they adore his attention. He is indeed, as you so quickly noticed, a fantastic dad and I too get the warm fuzzies watching the boys climb all over him while giggling incessantly. Coincidently, I had just entertained some of those very same thoughts myself while watching them all play! It was very kind of you to stop me as I was walking by (with wet towels, 2 pair of flip flops, 1/2 of a sticky smoothie…made to order…dripping down my arm and off my elbow, a boogie board, a bag of pool toys, and the wad of gum that Child #1 accidentally left on his beach chair), to let me know that you found it incredibly refreshing to see a parent so completely engaged in unabashed fun with his children. He sure is special and I’m so glad that you noticed. It was so kind of you in fact, that I almost didn’t notice when you took a dig at me by adding, “You must feel very lucky that he entertained the boys for so long while you sat in your chair and relaxed.” I almost missed your raised eyebrow and the slight change in the tone of your voice. I also almost missed your wife’s horrified, albeit subtle, cringe when you went just a little bit too far.
For the record, I wouldn’t dare take a single word of your praise away from my husband because in that moment, and in many other moments, he is even more wonderful with our boys than even you described. However, what you may not know, is that earlier that morning…and every other day of vacation…I took the boys for a long run/rollerblade as he enjoyed some peace and quiet. You also may not know that, since my husband is out of the house and hard at work very early each morning, I have the pleasure of getting the boys ready for school, taking them there, seeing them throughout the day as I work my full-time (and then some) job as a teacher in the same school, picking them up, taking them to after-school activities, and then bringing them home late in the afternoon…every.single.day. You also may not have deducted from your 30 minute observation of how we parent as a team, that until recently my husband was also hard at work on Saturdays so, that being the case, I have had the pleasure, for over 7 years, of taking them on countless excursions without him. While he would have loved to have joined us, he simply wasn’t able. Likewise, as a teacher, I am incredibly fortunate to have the entire summer off with the boys. It would be impossible to count all of the fun days that we’ve had…or even the quick overnight trips that we’ve taken…without him..during those long summer breaks.
I cannot emphasize enough how absolutely correct you were! He was (and is…whenever given the opportunity) a fantastic, fun, and hands-on father to our two young sons. I am beyond glad that you got to see him in his glory and that his awesomeness was not lost on you. I do however wish, kind sir, that you had thought a wee bit deeper before evidently determining that I do not do the exact same 90% of the time. While so quick to rightfully compliment him…you simultaneously insulted me with very little regard. Sadly, for his sake, my number of incredibly hands-on days with our children have had to outweigh his by a tremendously large number. So, yes sir, when given the opportunity to allow him to relish in some of the simple quality time that is always so readily available to me, I sure did. Selfishly, while relaxing as you put it, I was also admiring how adorable the three of them are together.
You caught me. Sitting there in the sun…relaxing for 30 minutes. Guess what? I did it the day before that for a nice little chunk of time…and maybe even the day that before too. The horror. You might, but probably not, be interested in knowing that when I later expressed how bothered I was by your obvious criticism of me, my husband immediately laughed and said, “If only he knew how often you are off entertaining them on your own!” Proving once again, how great he is. I’ll also have you know that another very kind man echoed many of your same words the very next day….and, believe it or not, was able to do so without a hint of sarcasm or ridicule in regards to my parenting in his voice. Imagine that.
A very relaxed mom…thanks to a great dad…who is now ready to tackle a slew of solo activities until the day that I get the opportunity to sit and relax again. (and when that day comes…you can bet I will)