November 13, 2008
Several weeks ago, my wife took a well deserved weekend trip away with her friend. That meant 72 hours of me with the four kids. Alone. With no help. Contrary to the belief of the entire “mom” population in our town, we all survived. That's right - I am capable of growing facial hair AND raising my children.
It’s amazing how the same group of people who must defend themselves on a daily basis are so quick to suggest that a man watching his own children is likely to go as well as a chimp watching a bunch of bananas. I’m happy to report that no children were eaten over the weekend.
I’m not sure if it’s insecurity or the fear that others can do a job just as well, but there is a definite prejudice against dads attempting to raise their kids, even if for a weekend. Attempting to shatter the preconception, I made ample time for each child, didn’t miss a drop off or pick up, kept them well fed, made some time for myself thanks to the MLB Playoffs, and washed every window and screen, front and back, in the entire house. Was all of it “easy?” No, but no one ever said it was. The point is that raising children is often difficult, but men can do difficult things too. Stop the giggling, women!
Is this a diatribe against the constant naggings of my wife? On the contrary. She is one of those moms who has complete trust in her husband (that’s me, for those of you scoring at home) to take care of their kids. My support of good dads is more a defense to that reaction I see from other moms every time they see me with four kids. “Wow, you’ve really got your hands full!” “Ahh, see, now you’ll finally realize just how hard your wife works.” “Good luck with everything you sorry sap!” The comments go on and on.
Perhaps it’s their motherly instincts taking over because these women look at me like a puppy wearing one of those cones around his neck. After the obligatory offers of help, I proclaim that I am fine, count the heads around me to make sure I haven’t lost one, and go about my business. Subconsciously, I know they are worried that I am NOT struggling.
So as not to sound like a pompous jerk, one caveat: with only three days sans the wife, I had the luxury of not having to worry about fitting all the “extras” into an already hectic schedule, like changing the sheets, picking up the dry cleaning, cleaning the bathrooms, washing the floors, etc. My wife does all that and still manages to have a hot meal on the table at dinner time every night. Advantage, wife. On the flipside, those windows have never looked cleaner, and I assume I would get into a groove as far as cleaning/cooking/caring goes the longer I was home. For those of you who have kids in school and a housekeeper that handles all the cleaning every week, the truth must be told: you have it easy.
Before the hate mail starts rolling in and I am no longer allowed at soccer practice, let me make one more thing clear: I’m not saying the white collar working force has it harder. Just as I have the confidence to make a child’s lunch while folding clothes and loading kids into the minivan, I also believe that moms would do just fine in the workplace. A good mom would probably pack a week’s worth of work into one eight-hour Monday and wonder why everyone else is wandering around the office with half-filled coffee mugs in tow complaining about how “busy” they are.
In the end, lazy people will struggle to succeed in the workplace and they’ll probably make bad parents as well. Hard workers, whether male, female, or possibly even a chimp, will succeed at both. Just don’t give the chimp the bananas until after the kids are asleep.