I’ve noticed a trend lately of people being amazed by what I would call basic parenting. When they see a man pushing a stroller, changing a diaper, or just being a…what do you call it again? Oh, yeah, a dad!
For years, women have been juggling all of the balls in the air. The kid balls, the household balls, the work balls, your husband’s balls…you get my point. It’s a difficult role which receives basically little to no training.
As little girls, we are handed baby dolls and encouraged to set up and maintain an imaginary household while the boys are outside slaying dragons. Now as adults we find that those same roles are the expectation. If a commercial portrays a father playing tea party with his daughter or struggling to wrestle her hair into a ponytail we all collectively “ooh and ahhh” at how amazing he is. Sorry, I am just not that impressed. Why? Because as a mother these are things that I am expected to do. But, so should my husband. He should be expected to know how to care for our children. He helped make them by the way. Just as I have taken our son to the barbershop, he needed to learn how to wash, condition, and detangle our daughter’s cascade of curls. He is just as responsible for their care as I am.
The day to day of it all requires that we be able to tag one another in and out of parenting duties so that no one person is burnt out.
Don’t’ even get me started on the fathers who “babysit” …that shit will set me off on another rant!
Case in point, I was in an airport heading home from a business trip. As I sat watching the crowds pass by I noticed a father who appeared to be traveling alone with an infant. In one hand, he was pushing the stroller, in the other, he pulled a suitcase while the baby slept peacefully strapped to his chest in a baby carrier. As I watched this father maneuver his way through the crowd I noticed two women sitting across from me commenting in wonder how amazing this father was “managing that baby all by himself.” It made me wonder if a woman were performing the same task if they would have exhibited the same amount of amazement? The answer: I am going with a hard no.
When my husband and I decided to have children it was just that, a decision we made together. However, I always found myself slightly irritated when my husband would receive praise for changing a diaper, warming a bottle, or taking them to a doctor appointment. God forbid he take both kids to the grocery store. They’ll throw him a fucking ticker tape parade!
I recently had this discussion with a girlfriend of mine. She was complaining that her husband had left dishes in their sink for three days. Just for reference, let me explain that both my friend and her husband are physicians. However, he works in a practice which allows him to work a pretty standard work day and she is an ER doctor who works several overnight shifts during the week. It was during a break in one of these shifts that she quickly ran home to rest and spend time with their two young children before she had to report back to work. When asked why he didn’t take care of the dishes while she was away her husband replied, “I thought you were going to take care of them when you came home.”
Her frustration was at an all-time high and after I asked her where she had hidden the body, she said that he just had the expectation that she was supposed to do all the housework. Yeah, that fucking happened.
So, let’s stop for a minute because I would feel remised if I didn’t give kudos to the parents that really give their all! Fortunately, I have been blessed with a husband that is very much an active participant when it comes to raising our children. We don’t have any “traditional” roles in our household. In the morning, the first one in the kitchen makes breakfast and school lunches, whoever hears the dryer buzz takes the towels out and folds them…I wish I could say that we both clean the shower but, you know, you can’t win ‘em all.
What I have learned is that in order for our home to run with any type of efficiency there must be an equal effort on both of our parts, no 50/50 here. It’s 100/100.
Trust me, there is nothing sexier than watching my husband put away laundry. However, he doesn’t get a fucking medal for it. Shit, they’re his clothes too!