The Difference Between Mom And Dad

I didn’t use the plural because I don’t want to generalize beyond my own household. For us, though, two events in the last two weeks really emphasized something I already knew: This Dad and this Mom are very different.

The first was a week or so ago. My two and a half year old son had caught a stomach bug and woke up in the middle of the night screaming with puke all over himself. I know this because his Mother told me about it the next morning; I slept right through it all.

That isn’t the part that distinguishes us. No. The truly amazing thing is that after cleaning him and his bed up, she put him to sleep in the guest bed and laid down right next to him. There was no reason to believe he was done throwing up. He could have spewed again at any second. If so, it would have soaked both of them. Why would she risk this? She didn’t want him to be scared if he woke up barfing again. What would I have done? Stripped him to his diaper, covered his bed with a tarp, laid him on top and said “I’ll be back if you get sick again, otherwise, see you in the morning.”

The second event occurred yesterday at the park. Mom had to work late, so Dad put the kids in the jogger and went for a run, rewarding them for being good during the run with a trip to the park at the end. All was grand until poor Malcolm’s feet slipped out from under him while he was running on the equipment. He did not fall hard; there were no scrapes or cuts. Still, he’s sort of sensitive and immediately began wailing. I picked him up and he kept saying “I fall on my bottom. Daddy, kiss it.” Now, if he’d hit his arm, or a leg, or his head, I’d kiss it and make it better with no problem. But I told him, “Sorry, son, I’m not kissing your butt.” I just gave him a pat, told him he wasn’t hurt and to man up, and then put him back down to play. He whimpered some but was soon distracted by all the fun stuff.

Later, back at the house, when I related this story to my Mommy, she was just as stunned as I was about the butt kissing part. Only where I thought no-one would be sappy enough to do such a thing, she was amazed anyone could be hard hearted enough not to do it: “Poor Mac-Mac, his bottom hurt and he needed you to make it better.” O.K., one, kissing it would not have made any difference. Two, even if it would, the slight amount of displeasure he was feeling did not justify such radical procedures. Her response? Looking at Malcolm she says “Poor baby, Mommy would have made it better.” How do you argue with that?

So there you go. I don’t think these differences make me a bad parent. In fact, when the babies get to their teens, I think they may prefer my parenting style to Mommy’s. For now, though, there’s no one quite like Mom.

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