On Fathers and Equally Shared Parenting
|Trying mama’s glasses on dad.|
As you may have noticed, it has been quiet around here for a few days. We had a lovely long weekend planned, complete with a camp out with friends, but instead ended up homebound with a rather nasty cold or flu-like illness of some sort. The girl woke up with a fever Saturday morning and spent the day on my lap looking awfully pathetic. Sunday, the daddy woke up sick and the girl was still recovering. Thank goodness it was a long weekend, because on Monday it was my turn.
I woke up feeling quite lousy, helped the girl crawl out of bed and, upon hearing her daddy greet her in the next room, breathed a sigh of relief and pulled the covers over my head. A few hours later, he came in to the bedroom to check on me and informed me that he had put Annabelle down for a nap. I was shocked.
This may not sound like a big deal, but I assure you, it is. This was the first time in months that the daddy had gotten her down to sleep. I joined some friends for a moms’ night out several weeks ago and was among the first to head home when I learned, at 11pm, that Annabelle was still awake and was growing grumpier by the hour. I didn’t see this as a failing on the daddy’s part, I just believed that Annabelle was particularly attached to the custom of nursing to sleep, and so sleep has always been my job.
For the most part, we share household tasks, though the bulk of them do go to me since I’m not involved in work outside the home. The one thing that has been my job from day one, even when I was often working longer hours than the daddy, is the laundry. This is not because he refuses, but because I do not approve of his methods and long ago declared him unfit to enter the laundry room. There are other housekeeping tasks that I occasionally grumble over when I feel particularly overwhelmed, insisting that “he doesn’t understand what clean means.”
And so we have a pattern of me accepting help, but considering myself ultimately responsible for the care of the house, and even of our daughter. Because you know, in the end, it’s easier for me and I obviously do it better. I have challenged this assumption in my head rather a lot lately, thanks in large part to the thought-provoking points made by some of my favorite feminist bloggers. Annie of PhD in Parenting, for example, wrote an article for Proactive Dads titled, “If Dads are Irrelevant, Moms are to Blame,” in which she explained:
While Annie is talking about far deeper issues than putting toddlers to sleep and getting the laundry and kitchen properly taken care of, it’s this sort of discussion that has had me thinking. After yesterday’s events, it is even more clear to me that I’m putting an unnecessary burden on myself, and failing to give my husband the space he needs to parent equally. I put him at a handicap by unnecessarily monopolizing parenting and household tasks.
Yesterday, I stayed in bed for the majority of the day, and not only did the daddy effortlessly handle the girl’s nap, but he also took care of the laundry and generally tidied up around the house. I’m disappointed that it took being out of commission for a day to finally prove to me that my husband is just as capable as I of managing the affairs of our house for a day, but all the same I’m thankful that this point has finally been driven home.