A few months ago, I took a trip by myself to a lovely tropical location. As I coordinated all the details for childcare while I was gone, I had precisely one thought:
Damn, I do a lot.
But seriously, there are so many small details in our life that I coordinate. From kids’ lunches and pick-ups to what freaking day they’re supposed to bring that weird project to school and a constant mental inventory of every item in our home, outsourcing these tasks felt impossible. There’s no question that many mothers juggle a lot on the home front, but one dad is making it very clear that fathers can handle it all without missing a beat, thank you very much.
Jessica and Jeremy Martin-Weber, who enjoy an egalitarian marriage, are raising six daughters together on a farm in Portland, OR. Together, they run the blog Beyond Moi filled with musings about co-parenting life with a big family.
In a recent Facebook post, Jeremy shared a picture of his wife at the airport as she left for a work trip where she would be gone for several days. With his wife away, the father of six lamented, in tongue-and-cheek fashion, who on earth would:
- Cook and feed his children.
- Get them to school on time.
- Pick out clothes for the youngest to wear.
- Read them a story, encourage them to play outside, or play a game with them.
- Support and encourage his teenage daughters with their feminine “problems” and their relationship struggles.
- Model kindness, love, patience, listening, empathy, strength, bravery, and all the good things.
“Who is going to do all that stuff while their mom is away?” Jeremy wrote. Until he remembered: oh yeah, he’s a parent, too!
“Me. That’s who. Because I’m not the babysitter. I’m not just their playmate. I’m their dad. And looking after them and guiding them and caring for them is my responsibility.”
Jeremy went on to note that he is confident in his ability to ensure that the house will not fall apart or be trashed simply because he is in charge. You know the old trick of just barely hanging on until Mom gets home to clean up the mess? Yeah, that’s not flying with this dad.
Jeremy doesn’t think he’s doing anything special, either:
“…no, I don’t deserve anyone’s special praise and adoration because ‘Wow! This dad can look after his own kids,'” he added. “I’m just doing what every parent should do, and what moms do every day without praise or adoration. It is enough that the mother of our children and I communicate our appreciation to each other for all the things we do for our family.”
His message was quickly shared by many people on social media. After it garnered attention, his wife Jessica supported his decision to post about his thoughts on Facebook. She defended people who argued that the very fact that he was posting about doing what a mom does every day showed that clearly, there’s a difference. Jessica responded that she loved the post and was grateful that her husband shared his experience with others to challenge the status quo that treats men as “bumbling idiots.”
As a mom who has a husband who “helps” (don’t even get me started on that term), I am so glad to see this message resonating with so many people. Until we get past the idea that mothers are responsible for everything in the household, including children, we won’t accomplish anything. That’s not to say that the domestic world is unimportant; on the contrary! It’s because it is so important as the hub of everyday life that the responsibilities and rewards should be shared between partners.
Of course, not every man agrees with Jeremy, and certainly, not every partner sees managing life in the same way. There are, unfortunately, still plenty of parental partners who refuse to lift a finger or do anything beyond working outside of the home. But that, insists Jeremy, is because our culture needs to expect fathers will parent effectively, instead of assuming they will do the bare minimum … only to praise them when they go “above and beyond.”
“It’s definitely a culture shift for dads to take on more of an equal role in parenting children,” he noted on Facebook. “It can be so difficult to live differently from the way we’re brought up, the way we’re expected to be, the way we were taught was the right way to be. But…I think it should be expected that dads embrace their parent role to the fullest extent–not the exception.”
And as one savvy commenter pointed out, the benefits of having a partner who’s all in when it comes to the responsibilities of childrearing can be their own reward, too. “This is probably part of why this lady has 6 kids,” one wise woman quipped. “Because she knew she had married a good man who is clearly a great dad. Teamwork wins!”