By James Muscolino
It’s rare here in Houston to get a cool day so early in fall, let alone an opportunity to take full advantage of it. Grabbing hold of any family time is so important to us –me, the stay-at-home-dad, and my partner, a business owner. What better way to spend this beautiful day in an amazing urban city, but through the eyes of our 13-month-old (and for ME, through the eyes of her Papa)?
We are the quintessential family. I stay home, cook, clean, and care for our daughter who calls me “Daddy”. My husband goes to work and comes home to an excited little girl who hasn’t yet worked “Papa” into her vocabulary (though we’re working on it) in time to read, bathe, and put her to bed. Quinny, the European stroller company, began a Walk Your Way campaign that embraces modern families like ours and invited us to try their Zapp Xtra stroller.
My husband and I love Quinny’s Walk Your Way slogan. Be confident and be yourself because, in all the essential ways, you’re just like any other family. Our child experiences the same teething nightmare as yours. We’d give our lives for our child, as I am sure would you, for yours. Like any other relationship when children enter the scene, our marriage has its up and down moments. And most certainly, we all want more quality family time together.
I admit, I try to take full advantage of my partner whenever he is around. He doesn’t exactly let me sleep in, but I do get some reprieve from the day-to-day (read: mundane) life of the stay-at-home parent in the form of a front-row seat to my partner’s experience with our daughter. Each weekend, I get to hang back a little while Papa catches up on all he missed throughout the week, be it our daughter’s new “tricks”, her transition to sippy cup, shouldering the diaper bag, or now, excitedly, manning our new Quinny Zapp Xtra stroller!
But oops, this means I have to let go of some control…
“This stroller is soooo maneuverable! Look how easily it cuts corners!” my partner exclaims, while I inwardly freak out because I would never “cut corners” that way.
“Are you sure she is ready for a sippy cup? Did you read up on that?” to which I can only roll my eyes.
We reach the park in the middle of a massive group of buildings, a refreshing sight to us urban dwellers. “James, please don’t put the diaper bag on the ground! There’s plenty of room under the stroller.” Ugh. Is family time over yet?
For the record, I am no expert in relationships, whether it be parent-to-child or parent-to-partner. I do not have a doctorate in human interactions. So I am by no means perfect. It’s just so hard to suddenly relinquish control to my partner on a Saturday when, during the week, I call all the shots.
But if I’m to push for more family time, and if having that time means my husband gets to take over a little, then I need to let him do that. And suddenly, while watching my partner of six years interact with our child on this gorgeous fall day, it hits me: we went through so much to have our daughter; why would I allow my controlling nature weigh us down with worthless frustration or resentment? Does it matter if he is asking me about the sippy cup? Why not simply explain to him about the books I read, or the people I spoke to, or the mere fact that yes, I think she is, indeed, ready? Who cares that he is obsessed with the new stroller (won’t even let me touch it), and seems to prefer it to his own car? The Zapp compacts easily and is easy to maneuver …I should let him enjoy it!
I realize that releasing control actually fosters intimacy with my partner. How could I not want more of that with him –the other parent to our child?
Papa places our sleeping daughter in the stroller, smiling adoringly at her while simultaneously adjusting her reclining position in the Zapp.
He’s totally got this, and I love him for it.
Just being together as a family, like all families, is what’s really important. Walk Your Way with the ones you love, freely and easily. Let go and simply embrace the time together.
We stroll happily home… and my husband lets me push our new favorite stroller.