Parenting: pet peeve edition
2.the methods, techniques, etc., used or required in the rearing of children: a course in parenting.
3. the state of being a parent; parenthood.What’s missing in that definition? Nothing.
But for some reason, there’s a thought that it’s only a woman’s job. To be the parent, that is. That parenting is not something that is done by both parties involved in child raising.
I remember back when Matt and I were talking about children. We both wanted kids. He wanted four, I wanted to start with two. He knew that in order for me to even consider having four would take him doing some of the work. (And perhaps a huge surprise.)
Granted, our parenting partnership isn’t 50/50, since I do spend the majority of the time with the kids, but guess what? When he’s home, it’s 50/50. And this late in the pregnancy it’s more 70/30 when he’s home, in favor of Matt.
I read a blog today about this that sat with me. In a nutshell, it’s about the sad fact that a lot of people think that fathers are just babysitters.
For the record, to be a babysitter, one must be paid. I don’t pay Matt when I’m not at home and he’s with the kids. I don’t ask for permission, either. I ask if he had plans, but otherwise, I don’t say, “Hey, do you mind watching the kids so I can go have dinner with a friend tonight?” Just in the same where he’ll send me a text that says, “Hey, mandatory happy hour with the coworkers, be home late.” I’ll scoff, because, seriously. Mandatory happy hour? I want that job. But I won’t set a plate for him at dinner. Conversation, over.
When I work on Saturdays, it feels like Groundhog’s Day. Every Saturday, different patients, same questions. “Do you have kids? Boys, Girls? Who watches them when you’re at work?”
Sometimes, when I tell them that my husband doesn’t work Saturdays, they look at me like I’m a horrible mother. He should be out hunting, drinking beer or playing poker with his buds because he worked so hard all week, and what right do I have to go to work on his day off? He should be relaxing! Not babysitting the kids.
My husband, for the record, has always been able to handle the kids, just as I have. He’s been up at midnight when all he could do was watch me feed the baby, but just being there in support and ready to rock the baby back to sleep if I was too tired to do so. He’s the guy who takes all three kids to Claire’s Taekwondo class on Saturdays and doesn’t complain. He’s the one who will take Claire skating with famous Penguins because it’s something he thought she’d like to do. He’s the one who takes Luca to Legoland and sits there as he plays at the same table for hours because that’s the one Luca likes…and he builds things, too.
And guess what? He’s not a saint for doing that. He’s a dad.
As a guy friend of mine said, “I think it’s sad that people in society see men that way now. Not as a father but a babysitter. Perhaps it’s a lot of deadbeat dads that have given the good guys a bad rep.”
Perhaps. But also, I find it’s that society is so social now that the secret society of good dads is coming to the light.
My grandpa was the kind of dad who played with his kids, taught them things, and parented them. You know, what most fathers do, but don’t blast about it, because once upon a time there was no Facebook or Twitter.
Or perhaps he was an exception.
Either way, good for the dads out there parenting their kids every day and they deserve credit, but they also are doing their jobs. I don’t get a pat on my back when I punch out of work on Saturdays. I don’t get a ‘You go, girl’ every time I teach a class at the gym. Matt doesn’t get a high five every time a paycheck rolls in. It’s called life. It’s what you do.
(Though, still spinning at nearly 37 weeks deserves a fist bump now and then.)
Parenting is just another thing that’s a part of life. It’s a part of life just as bills and taxes and eating is. Every day I get up ready to work. Is it the same kind of work as Matt’s? No. But my kitchen is clean, my bread is always fresh and the kids are always *mostly* clean. Matt comes home, and his work isn’t done yet, just because he left the office and my job isn’t done because he came home.
When we first discussed having kids, we knew it was going to be a partnership, and for five years it has been. I don’t foresee that changing in the near future.
And I truly think Matt would be seriously offended if I ever referred to him as the babysitter.
He is a father, and that will never change.