Parenting lessons

In honour of Father’s Day, I have drafted a brief essay: “Things the Carpenter taught me about parenting.”

Won’t he be thrilled? Not likely.

Let me begin by thanking the Carpenter for tricking me into motherhood in the first place. Did I say trick? Sorry, I meant coerce. Perhaps seduce is a better word. Encourage. Never mind, I meant trick.

If there’s one thing I knew when I fell for this man it’s that he wanted a family, and I wanted him. You do the math.

I am a worrier by nature. The Carpenter is an optimist. Unflappable. His “everything will be fine” attitude has yet to rub off on me. When the children were small, he taught me that they weren’t as fragile as I believed them to be. He would toss the baby into the air and catch him/her, over and over, making the baby giggle with joy. He never let them fall. He never will. He teaches me it’s okay to let go and hold on at the same time. Love allows for that.

Despite my growing up in a home where we didn’t discuss bodily functions, the Carpenter has encouraged me to appreciate that a well-timed belch or a blast of noxious gas erupting from one’s posterior is cause for applause. His expertise for disgusting sounds makes him a hero to the children, who can now out-perform his body noises. I draw the line at repeat performances. I am often over-ruled.

The Carpenter is King of our castle, where the law reads: “do as I say, not as I do.” Thus, his pile of laundry on the bedroom floor, coffee cups left around the house or muddy work boots dragging in dirt trails are all his entitlements. Tell that to a teenager who doesn’t even know there is a floor beneath their laundry.

It’s cute when the kids try and argue they don’t need to clean their mess if dad doesn’t have to clean up after his. Poor dears. Nice try. Let’s remember who pays for the castle. Eventually, even the King picks up his socks.

The Carpenter is strict but fair. He sets boundaries with love, not punishment. He is very clear where his line of tolerance is; he will roar if they trespass, but the demands are never unrealistic. He has taught me that kids need rules to feel safe and grounded. Home has to be a safe place, but also one of respect, where everyone is valued.

Our daughter has learned that there is a right way and a wrong way to throw a punch, which is a valuable life skill. Unfortunately, the Carpenter has learned the hard way the girl-child has a good right hook. Our son now outweighs his father, so maybe the Carpenter should have thought twice about recommending wrestling as a sport – but hey, if you’re going to walk the walk, you’re going to flop the flop. Man down. Hilarious. Thank goodness for chiropractors.

Without a doubt, the greatest lesson the Carpenter has taught me is to trust my instincts as a mother. He never doubts my sixth sense. My intuition is law. He respects that I am ruled by heart and he protects mine. Nobody believes in me like he does. Nobody ever has. I’m grateful.

So this Sunday, there will be bacon. That’s all the Carpenter needs to feel loved.

And he is.


Kelly Waterhouse