I LOVE this article and am so excited to share it with all of you as part of “A Dad’s Perspective” series from Mommy Masters. Whether you are a mom or dad, I hope Adam’s article inspires you. It’s a wonderful communication tool and conversation piece for you and your husband/wife/partner to understand each other’s perspective on this topic. Enjoy!
This last Sunday I decided it would be nice to give my wife a sleep in and take both kids out to breakfast. No, it’s not because she has the kids all week and I thought she deserved a break, which I’m sure happens in many households around the country. In our case it was because my wife was working the day before, and even though I had the kids to myself all day, I still thought it would be nice to let her have a sleep in as I don’t really consider watching my kids to be that hard of a job. We both work not one, but two jobs, and they overlap in a way that we are able to both be equally involved in the raising of our kids. It’s been that way since our eldest child was 3-months-old and my wife went back to work, and you won’t hear any complaints out of me about it.
I love being an involved dad. I love getting up in the mornings with my kids and getting them ready for preschool or daycare. I love feeding them breakfast and choosing their clothes and even wiping their little asses. I love coming home at the end of the day and making them dinner and giving them bathes and reading them stories. And I love that my wife and I can share in all of these “jobs” equally, and are each able to handle them separately if need be. My wife likes that I don’t have to call her when she’s working to ask her where things are or what needs to be done. And I like that she doesn’t call every half hour to make sure they’re still alive, or to make sure that the house is clean when she gets home. We share cooking and cleaning and laundry and shopping and childcare. It’s as even as even can be.
But that’s not to say even my wife doesn’t have her reservations from time to time. When I told her I was going to let her sleep in and take our 3-year-old daughter and our 8-month-old son to breakfast by myself, she thought I was crazy. “You’re going to hate it,” she said. “She’ll be running all over the restaurant and he’ll be crying the whole time.” And it’s true, packing up a baby and a toddler to go to breakfast isn’t the easiest thing in the world. You have to dress them both, and pack a bag with diapers and wipes and toys and snacks (in case they don’t want to eat). You have to ensure that you’re going at the right time so that you can ensure that you don’t have to feed two kids at the same time (it’s easier to go when the baby is scheduled for a bottle instead of a full meal). And you have to pack them both in to the car, and unpack them out of the car and get them in to the restaurant and settled, all by yourself.
I guess you could see it as a chore, but I like to see it as a challenge, and a fun one at that. I like spending time with my kids. I like spending time alone with my kids. I like doing things dad’s way. And it was easy. The drive there was easy. Walking in to the restaurant was easy. Sitting down and ordering was easy. I fed my son his bottle in his baby bucket on the table and 5 minutes later he was asleep. I gave my daughter some toys and she sat quietly while I ordered. We colored as we waited for our food to come and except for the few times that she stood on her seat to smile at the couple in the booth behind us she was perfect. There was no crying, no running around and no “Mr. Mom” moments where I had to rush two kids to the bathroom in a mad panic as one of them had an explosion in their pants. There was none of that- just a parent sitting down to a nice quiet meal with his little ones without incident. There was no eye-rolling from other patrons wondering where “the mother was.” There were no comments from elderly ladies asking “are you babysitting today?” Actually, I got no questioning looks at all. All I heard were people commenting on how well-behaved my children were and how lucky I was.
And that’s the way it should be. A dad should be able to walk in to a restaurant with his kids alone and not draw any special attention. In this day and age, it should just be the norm that a man can care for his kids without a woman present. Sure, I love going to restaurants as a family, and working with my wife as a team, but it’s also nice to go out and just sit and talk one-on-one with my little girl and create lasting memories for us both.
So it always amazes me when I hear certain moms say how useless their husbands are when it comes to caring for their kids, or how they do everything and their husbands do nothing. Do you think I was the only dad having breakfast alone in that restaurant with his kids on a Sunday morning? I wasn’t- there were two other guys doing the same thing. We are the Modern Dad. And we can do everything our wives can do. We don’t babysit out kids, we parent them. We don’t follow our wives’ instructions; we have our own way of doing things. We are working dads and stay-at-home dads and work-at-home dads and split-shift working dads who have all found a way to be equal caregivers to our kids. And when I hear moms complain about how useless their husbands are all I can say is I feel sorry for you, and more so I feel sorry for him for not allowing himself the opportunity to get to know his kids the way I, or so many other involved dads, do.
We’re not letting society, or the media, or a sitcom define who we are. We are taking the role of dad and redefining it for a new generation, or should I say reclaiming it from a few generations that have decided to forget that up until the Industrial Revolution parents pretty much always split the job of caring for their kids (see: Little House on the Prairie). We don’t care what others deem to be “macho,” we know there is nothing sexier than an actively engaged father. And we don’t want to be recognized for doing anything other than our biological duty to raise our offspring so that they may grow to be functioning, well-balanced adults who will in turn one day raise offspring of their own (that we can spoil with candy).
No, all of that wasn’t going through my head as I drove my two small children home after successfully taking them out to breakfast without incident, but it is something to think about; a good conversation to be had on parenting forums like this one. There are lots of dads out there like me. Why aren’t there more of them? Maybe we should pose that question to the moms who second guess their husbands and belittle them and berate them for not doing things their way. Maybe moms are too tied up in the competition of who is the better mom that they don’t give their husbands a chance to be the best parents THEY can be, questioning how they do everything instead of accepting that dads are pretty awesome parents when given the opportunity.
So, who wants a sleep in next weekend? Maybe it’s time to see just how capable YOUR husband (or boyfriend, or significant other) really is.
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