I am a wife and a mother and I know that this is a hard job and we have to all rally around each other for support and stuff… but I’m a little concerned about something lately. See, while we’re all “motherhood is the most important job IN THE WORLD” we also start to put down our husbands and the fathers of our children.
Now, let me say straight out… I believe motherhood IS extremely important and you will NEVER hear me say that it isn’t and you will NEVER hear me deny just how hard it is.
But by assuming that I have it so hard and I do all the important stuff… what’s left for my husband? Isn’t his job as husband and father just as important? Isn’t his job pretty dang hard, too? Where’s all the affirmation for fatherhood?
I’m so tired of hearing women talk about their husbands as if they are complete imbeciles. Guess what? They can too clean the house! They might do it a little differently than you do, but they CAN do it. Ches’ jobs include taking out the trash and recycling, cleaning the kitchen on nights I cook, cooking dinner on the weekends, cleaning the bathroom, yard work, folding all the clean laundry,and being in charge of getting the garbage and recycling cans to the curb and back in the gate on the right days of the week. Is that all he does? Absolutely not! He is always picking up and cleaning things around the house. Why does he do all this? Because he doesn’t expect me to be the maid. He knows how to clean, he knows what jobs I hate to do or just don’t want to be bothered with, and he makes an effort to help me out. We got married young, while we were both still in college full time and working part time, and we got in the habit of helping each other out from the start.
Guess what? Your husband knows how to take care of the kids!! It’s true. They are his kids, too. It’s not like you were handed a secret “Moms only” handbook when you had the baby and dads don’t get to learn anything. As moms we had to learn as we go, and dads do that, too. Do they parent the exact way we do? No! Is that wrong? NO!! Dad is a different person than Mom and so of course they are going to do things a little bit differently. As moms we have to let them do it their way. It’s not going to kill our children if Dad rough-houses with the kids, or if he makes them do their homework before having a snack, or if he washes their bodies before their hair when giving them a bath… Mom’s way isn’t the only way.
On this note, if a dad is watching the kids while mom is gone (whether it’s because she is out of town for the weekend or because she is gone to a movie with her girlfriends), IT IS NOT BABYSITTING. Do not ever say “My husband is babysitting tonight.” Really? Are you paying him? How would you feel if you heard your husband say, “Yeah, my wife babysits our kids while I’m at work”? Babysitting is a part time job where the sitter gets compensation (usually monetary) for taking care of children that don’t belong to them. It is NOT babysitting to care for your own children. Stop degrading your husband by calling him a babysitter.
Guess what? Your husband knows how to prepare food. True story. How did they eat before they met and married you? They may not prepare the most healthy or gourmet dinners, but let’s be honest. Do you? Especially when your husband is gone for dinnertime and you just need something for the kids… do you really NOT just make them hot dogs or mac-n-cheese? Quit acting like dads only ever feed their kids junk food and McDonald’s. It may happen, but it’s not going to kill the kids.
Guess what? If you act like your husband is a complete and clueless idiot when it comes to fatherhood, he’s going to play up the part. I knew a guy who’s exwife treated him so poorly over the whole parenting thing that he started to purposefully put the baby’s diapers on backwards. He knew that’s what she expected, so he did it. Was it the right thing to do? No. (Although I find it amusing!) However, she could find something wrong with the way he put diapers on no matter what, so he figured he might as well play it up and rise to expectations. I was recently talking to a couple of women and the one said, “Well, I have to hurry home before my husband freaks out. He hates it if I’m gone too long. He can’t handle it.” She had been gone one hour. I asked, “Oh, how old is your baby?” thinking that if the baby is a newborn the mom probably wants to get home and feed the baby. “Well, the baby is 13 months and her sister is 3”. Really???? Dad freaks out after an hour with kids of that age?? Or is it really MOM who freaks out and has never let dad have a chance to change a diaper or get a snack or even tuck his daughters into bed???
I hate that when I go out of town people shockingly ask me, “Can Ches handle you being gone? Are the kids going to eat a lot of mac-n-cheese? Should I check on them while you’re gone?” NO! The kids still go to bed on time (or mostly on time!). The house is cleaner when I’m gone. The kids eat super yummy food when I’m gone. Ches takes them out and gets to spend all sorts of great father/son time with them when I’m gone. Do they miss me? Absolutely! But not because I make their beds a certain way or stir the oatmeal to a “better” consistency. They miss me because I’m mom and they love their mom.
As important as motherhood is, mothers are not the be all, end all. We are not the center of our little family universe. Just because dad isn’t there as many hours a day as we are doesn’t mean he isn’t there as a father and can’t do anything. Stop degrading fatherhood!! I couldn’t be a mother without Ches. He keeps me sane. He keeps me grounded. He calls me out on my craziness. He is a good, attentive father and a kind, loving husband. I am only as good as I am at this job because I have him. I know that not all fathers are as good as he is and not all husbands are as good as he is. I know that it is not always possible to have a father in the home. But we should be giving fatherhood better attention than we do. As of right now, fatherhood gets the short end of the stick.