I read a quote several days ago that was something along the lines of 80 percent of dads don’t know what their kids are getting for Christmas until the children open them. They get to be surprised right along with the kids.
The statistic may have even been 90 or more percent, but I don’t think it was real, just a thing someone made up to make all the mothers in the world groan their understanding.
I was recently accused of husband bashing by one of my readers and I’d like to respond: I love my husband very much, we get along very well, and rarely argue, but the fact of the matter is we handle life differently, which can be funny. I express the quirks of the trade of being parents and how our differences often clash in the most loving and humorous ways. My intention is to let other parents know they are not alone in their frustration over their mate’s or kid’s actions; people have written whole books on the subject. And in our household, I’m the writer, so I put my family’s lives out there; but it’s important to note that my husband and children are always informed and give their consent.
One of the best things about my marriage is neither my husband nor I take life so seriously we can’t laugh at ourselves when things go slightly awry.
As far as being the chief gift buyer and wrapper, it’s not that I’m intentionally keeping the information from my husband, but it’s not something he’s really interested in. I think he likes to be surprised, even with the kids’ gifts, and he really did marry me because I was willing to run our lives. My husband is an easy-going guy and he often sits back and watches my frenzy because it is my personal chaos, then he’ll step in before I implode.
Someone has to be the voice of reason, and it’s never me.
I run the house: cooking, grocery shopping, paying bills, and yes, Christmas shopping. When I get overwhelmed and put on my disgruntled wife and mother persona, he takes me out for dinner and listens to my woes. I’m fine with the gifting situation because one of the things I enjoy about being a wife and mother is the planning; although it’s also one of the worst things about my life, too (here’s a moment for a collective groan from those who do all the planning). However, the older I get, the more I understand that everything will always be fine; Christmas comes whether I feel I’m ready or not, there will be something to eat even if a recipe doesn’t turn out perfect, and my husband comes home from work every day no matter my mood (though I try to warn him in advance if it’s particularly foul).
After I read the quote about fathers being somewhat absent from gift planning, I decided to pull him into the loop this year to help me finish up the last of it. As we shopped I wondered why I tended to take over such things, he was helpful in between his stories of car projects. It could be that I love surprising everyone with my well-thought out choices, but it’s more likely I have unresolved control issues. Whatever the reason, ‘tis the season and my husband will most likely still be surprised when our kids open their Christmas presents.
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. You can read more of her writing and her blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com, on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.”or follow her on Twitter @livewithgleigh. Her column is available every week at maplevalleyreporter.com under the Lifestyles section