Babble asked a few Voices bloggers about the increased focus on and visibility of mothers in popular and online culture…and what it means for dads. They did not specifically ask me, but whatever. They asked the question using CAPS LOCK, which we all know is my signature color. I’m butting in. I have opinions!
Actually…I’d rather just use this topic as an excuse to embarrass my husband. Who is a dad. Who is a very, very good dad. And a good husband. And I don’t say that because he remembers to show up and accomplish the bare minimum of requirements, like “I did the dishes because I want sex” or “I’ll put the kids to bed tonight while you go put on a sexy nightgown so we can have sex.”
No, my husband does everything for our kids that I do. I mean, I handle all the childbirth and breastfeeding business, but he’s always been pretty willing to take it from there. He changes diapers and does their laundry. He chauffeurs them to karate and swimming lessons and plays Legos and picnics in the living room. He gives them baths and tells bedtime stories. He reads parenting articles and books about sleep solutions and discipline methods and everything he can find about our oldest’s various special needs and diagnoses. He worries about them endlessly and revels in their successes with pride. He kisses boo-boos and cuddles with them when they’re sick. Every weekend he makes a big batch of waffles from scratch and freezes them so we have an easy-yet-homemade option for breakfast every morning. Neither of us have to be the “tough” parent while the other one gets the “fun” role.
He cooks, he cleans, he has never missed a single parent-teacher conference yet. He will always stop at a Lush store to pick up my favorite soaps and bath bombs, and when he senses I’m stressed out he’ll just run a bath for me and order me in it. He makes sure new books by my favorite authors magically show up on my Kindle the day they’re released. He’s the one who insisted I finally place more value on what I do for a living and hijacked my email two years ago to place a help wanted ad on Sittercity. And if you ask him what his biggest parenting challenge is he’ll probably say he wishes he had more patience but if you ask me it’s really not being able to curb his compulsion to spoil them all rotten.
And of course he does all this while working a demanding full-time job that occasionally demands long extra hours, and he’ll come rushing home shaking his head irritably because didn’t they realize it was Halloween? Didn’t they understand how non-negotiable that is? Halloween! Trick-or-treating! Honestly.
So what would the current mother-centric culture of parenting say about us? Is Dad being marginalized or “pushed to the sidelines except insofar as [he] serves as comic foil to smart, capable moms who could probably – if cultural narratives are to be believed – manage just as well without them?” Not even close, at least in our household. If anything, I like to think our parenting style simply blurs the line between the titles — that there doesn’t need to be this great divide between what it means to be a “mom” or a “dad.” Of course I’m the mother and he’s the father, but in the end, we’re both parents.