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Dad’s Facebook Rant Pits “Mum’s Work” Against “Dad’s Work” in the Worst Way

It’s common for parents to take to Facebook to vent about the difficulties of raising children, but one dad from Australia has gone viral for his unfiltered parenting rant that began with the words, “Today I had to be the mum…”

It all started with a scary text. Brad Kearns, a 27-year-old father of two from Australia, received a message from his wife, Sarah, letting him know that “my liver has failed.” His wife was admitted to the hospital, leaving Brad to come home from work to care for his 2-year-old and 6-month-old sons. And that’s where his troubles began …

Brad recounted his hard day “being the mum” via a rambling journal posted to Facebook on May 29 that has already garnered over 57k likes and 16k shares. He breaks down his day in a frantic, funny, stream-of-conscious patter that reminds you that: a) he’s definitely Australian, and b) he was only watching his kids for ONE DAY.

Here are some highlights:

“As the night rolls on and my patience wears thin; I reduce myself to keeping Knox quiet by allowing him to place stickers on my (very hairy) legs. He was being quiet… ‘It’s okay, I can shave them off in the morning’ was the thought. ‘Just don’t wake Finn'” […] 

So there I was… At 5:30am sitting on the lounge with Finn alert as an 18yr old Mt Druitt chick at Stereosonic… Just sittin… When Knox enters the room and says ‘Hi’. That’s the moment I realised I would rather be the dad. […]

Have you ever been in a situation where someone walked in on you doing something you shouldn’t be? That’s the feeling I got when I opened the door to my mother in law. So there I was;

Unshaven, hair a mess, wearing the pants and socks from the day before and a hoodie covering up the fact I had no shirt on. Hadn’t showered, not yet brushed my teeth, Knox comes running out in his sleeping bag asking for a new Yoghurt muesli bar to be opened. I open the door to her to reveal the fact that knox’s noodles were still in a bowl on the table, stickers stuck to the goddamn lounge, the house an absolute mess.

It was in that moment I knew I was defeated.”

It’s a cute post, and I can see why it went viral. Parents enjoy independent confirmation that what they do every day is really, really hard. (Because IT IS.) And it doesn’t hurt that Brad is a handsome guy. After his post went viral, he started a new Facebook page and Instagram account — both called DadMumLife — to further chronicle his adventures as an unexpected “mum” and (presumably) to capitalize on his new popularity. (He’s already posted a second post — accompanied by a shirtless pic — largely about visiting his wife in the hospital while his mother-in-law watches his older son.)

But not everyone online has been won over by Brad’s adorable exasperation. Many people, myself included, have taken issue with the way that Brad characterizes caring for children as “mum’s” work.

Brad’s Facebook post openly draws a line between the responsibilities of a “dad” and “mum.” To quote him, “Dads get respite for 40+ hours per week under the socially acceptable provisor ‘supporting the family’ while mum continues doing what women seem to so effortlessly do.”

I think that’s not only ignorant, but also needlessly divisive. I know MANY families where the dad stays at home and the mom works. Or two-dad families. Or two-mom families. Or single-parent families. And, in all of those families, the work is NEVER separated by gender lines.

Maybe there’s some role division between a parent who works a full-time job and a parent who is a full-time caregiver, but there’s nothing mutually exclusive about those roles. Being a woman or a man doesn’t make you more apt or proficient at one role more than the other. Women can work. Men can nurture. It’s just part of being a parent.

I also take issue at how hard it seems to be for Brad to care for his kids for a mere 16 hours. I’ve worked full-time ever since becoming a father and I’ve spent LOADS of days where I watched my child (and other children) on my own. And I don’t expect a pat on the back for that. I never finished a day alone with my daughter and her friends, and given an exhausted nod to any mom in sight to let them know that I suddenly had newfound respect for their role.

Being able to care for your child is just something you figure out one day at a time — for ANY parent. I do deeply sympathize for Brad’s situation with his wife; having a loved one unexpectedly fall ill can be incredibly emotional and stressful. But, c’mon, he had 16 hours alone with his kids until his mother-in-law arrived, and the worst that seemed to happen was that the house was messy and his baby cried. Again, that is commonplace for any parent.

Brad received a mixture of praise and criticism for his post, mainly because he characterized caregiving as a “mum” job. And he even, seemingly, responded to that criticism in his second post, writing:

“The fact that I’m a man means nothing, the fact that my wife chose to sacrifice time from her very good job and take leave means nothing. Because no matter how much the world changes, it’s still quite traditional for one parent to stay home while the other parent works. It’s not gender specific, it’s not pigeon holing roles in the family, it’s not anything. It’s just really f***ing practical.”

I see what he’s getting at here, but no one seemed to be criticizing the idea of having one working parent and one stay-at-home parent. Throughout his posts, he clearly calls out the divisions between dads and mums — mentioning how “effortlessly” women seem to take hold of the “mum” role – and he even ends his original post with “F*** #‎iwanttobeadadagain.”

Maybe he was just talking about his own situation, but it really plays into the whole ridiculous stereotype that childcare is women’s work and that any time a dad spends with his children is simply babysitting.

I’m a dad and I don’t babysit. (There’s even a whole movement of dads who reject that babysitting label.) I work two full-time jobs — I have a career and I’m a parent. And, if I’m ever called away from one job to perform the other, I can do it. And I can do it without panicking and marveling at how hard it is to make a kid lunch while you’re picking up the family room.

As a society, we need to stop saying “awww” when a cute dad can’t figure out how to change a diaper. We need to support and praise each other as parents without casting moms as domestic goddesses and men as clueless part-timers.

If you’re a dad and you need a mum to help get you through 16 hours with your own children, there’s a bigger problem than you feeding a 2-year-old instant noodles for dinner.

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