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Dad Night Nurse Gets Time Off, but Mom Not Sure Why?

As a ZagZig Parent, I thought I had trained the kids early on that for midnight tummy aches and ailments they went to dad. While I realize this breaks all the stereotypes and societal expectations, there are a few reasons why this became part of dad’s duty as the stay-at-home parent.

Mike: Let me be clear how this actually works. She hears the kids retching or moaning in the bed well before I do, but I get the nudge. She wakes me from a deep sleep and says kid Number X needs you, then rolls over and goes back to sleep, leaving me to play nurse maid or chief excrement/vomit cleaner upper.

First, as I have openly confessed in the ZagZig Parenting book, Mike got more of the ailment-nurturing gene than I did. If you have an emotional issue you need to talk through or are expressively hurt, then I am your parent; however, if it involves blood, physical aches and pains or puke go to your dad. The kids learned this early on when they said they didn’t feel well and thought they had a temperature. I reacted by asking if it was a test day and could they tough it out. When the girls experienced the monthly pains of young womanhood, they did not even bother to ask me if they could stay home. My hubby is a softy.

Mike: Not a softy, just more compassionate for physical ailments. It kind of became a joke in the house as the kids got older and learned to navigate which parent could help them more in each situation. Number 1 described it this way, “Fever, broken bone, sore muscle, you know mom will just put up the hand and say go see your dad.” My wife does have more compassion than that, but not enough to clean up after the pungent smell of vomit.

Second, our first OBGYN was a wise sole and gave us advice well beyond childbirth. He wrote me scripts to read Deepak Chopra and to make sure I went on dates with my husband after we had the baby. He also told me that my instinct will be to have my husband stay up with me when the baby wakes in the first week, but sleep deprivation is a real phenomenon, and it is better to have one parent be exhausted than both so that one parent can at least stay rational when the parenting reality strikes.

Third, the smell of vomit, literally makes me sick; therefore, there is no use for Mike to take care of the two of us.

Mike: Oh, she has a rationale for everything. It is true though; I am the expert on starve a fever, feed a cold, introducing a cracker and warm pop in slow increments, etc. She can have the heartaches conversations, disappointments and emotional turmoil – those make me nauseous.

For years, this strategy has worked for us. We are fortunate that these kids are pretty healthy. Number 4 must have forgotten though when two weeks ago this teenage kid showed up on my side of the bed with a terrible headache. I mean, I was awake; the kids know I don’t sleep that well.

At about 2 a.m., Number 4 did not even slow down at his dad’s side of the bed. He walked right over to mine and asked my advice. I shot up out of bed, looked at Mike, and did what any reasonable parent would do. I got him Motrin and a glass of water and said call me later in the morning. I then, crawled back in bed, wondering what had just happened.

Mike: I had been volunteering at a big event all week to raise funds for his team account. Maybe he took pity on me knowing that I was exhausted from a double shift. I did not even hear him and did not even know about it, until my wife woke me up later that morning and told me what happened. She thought it was a dream until our son walked in and said he felt better.

I told my son I am glad he felt better, and then asked him why he came to me. He said he knew dad would not wake up for him, but knew I was awake and I would either handle it or nudge him. The kid was right. He got his needs met, and I am the only one who is still thinking about it today.

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