Saturday, June 14, 2014

Stereotypes, bad commercials and things you must stop saying to fathers.

Every time this year I am deeply thankful that we have rather atypical TV watching habits because the normal Father's Day commercials drive my husband b@t$hit crazy. You see he's the artistic type who doesn't just want power tools, and not to mention the veiled references to dad being the secondary parent send him into a tizzy. Needless to say, most of the commercials we do happen to catch often miss the mark. How come Father's Day commercials usually have nothing to do with actually being a freaking father?
The most common stereotype, that dads aren't the primary parent is just ludicrous in 2014. More and more families have SAH dads now. With the job market being so ridonkulous it is often the case that women end up being more marketable for their company has its quota of white men and if you ain't a minority then you getting laid off. (I will make no comments about how much all of that previous sentence sucks for that will take me off topic.) Not to mention even if both parents are working typically that means a more equal sharing of the parenting burden than before. I know of one family that seems to split everything 50-50 and I marvel at how they make that work. We've watched friends struggle to find jobs and have to send their wife instead, and then juggle the new role of primary parent. 
All this to say though, it seems to me that while some may pull off the 50-50, I don't know that there's anything wrong with having one 'primary' parent and one 'secondary.' Guess which one I am. I used to not mention it, even downplay it a bit, but not anymore. People, I am proud to say that I am definitely the 'B' team parent. 

Here are some things that you really need to stop saying around me and my dear, A-team, superstar husband who is the best father in the freaking world.
1) Don't ask me any sort of question about the kids that would require day-to-day contact with them to know. Like, shoe size or any clothing size. They are kids. That stuff changes by the minute. Sometimes on my hard work weeks I hardly see them for four days. That could mean they have gone up four shoe sizes people. 
It also includes what their favorite food is as somehow our youngest seems to subsist on whining and shenanigans and I have no earthly idea how to get him to eat. The oldest randomly decides she doesn't like foods and moodily makes that decision on a fact-scheme I haven't quite worked out but I believe involves the mating ritual of African bees. 
The person you should be asking these day-to-day questions is; wait for it... wait for it... Did you guess the person that spends each day with them? Hurrah! Yup. Their Dad. This also goes for our schedule. Guess which schedule I know? My work one. Especially since I'm a boss now and I have to keep up with my whole work group. Want to know if we are free three Saturday's from now? Ask him. I can tell you if I am fully staffed or not, but that's it. 
2) Don't make a comment about how it must be so nice to be him, implying he sits on his butt all day and plays X-box. A) we don't have xbox B) it's just rude. SAH parents work their butts off all day long, the equivalent of 60+--80+ work hours a week for no pay. No to mention their bosses are tyrannical monsters. No seriously. Have you considered how much you would hate your boss if he/she was a two-year-old who can't be reasoned with? 
3) Don't assume I'd rather be home with the kids. You would be dead wrong. This doesn't make me a bad mother. It makes me a wise mother. Trust me folks, I ain't cut out for it. I'm a type A woman in a male-dominated work place who keeps climbing that corporate ladder and does it in combat boots cause she hates high heels. Believe me when I say our merciful God in Heaven knew what he was doing when he made me and made my husband and put us together. He made my husband for our house and me to guard it. May seem weird to you but just get over it. (Or I'll put a boot somewhere the sun don't shine!)
4) This one is geared to the SAH moms in our sphere: for the love of God quit excluding him. I get that you want to vent about your husbands and it's probably awkward with a dude there. Guess what? The annoying stuff they do? Betcha I do. That being said, if you can't vent around a guy about guys then just have ONE play date where you don't vent for crying out loud. Either way, realize that he's doing the same job you are but with hardly any peer support. Think about that for a second. And for the love of all things holy don't tell us: oh there's this great SAH dad group. No there isn't. Not near us. Not with normal people. Don't hide behind some Victorian notion that married women should only be around their husbands. For crying out loud, it's 2014, get over your issues and deal. Guess who is around your husband all day long? Women like me: Type A's who can handle men with ease and grace. Quit being jerks and excluding him. It's rude. Remember that boot? 
5) One well-meaning person put their enormous foot in their mouth when they told us that women are blessed with a 'special grace' to deal with small children. I think they are half right. I don't think it's exclusive to women but I do think God often graces the primary parent with more patience so they can do their task. I assume for the 50-50s he splits the grace or something. Cause God is never shoved in a box. He's like a holy leviathan when you try to nail him down to one of your small-minded beliefs. Good luck with that, is all I got to say.
6) Don't assume that he got 'stuck' with this gig. Circumstances may have been orchestrated by an all wise and powerful God but my husband has knowingly and willingly stepped into this choice. This is his job. He's not incapable of finding work. He's not lazy. Yes these things have been said, or implied. If you would say that to a woman than you stink as a human being. Realize that our lifestyle choice is just that, it's our choice. Quit second-guessing it. Go live your life, for I bet it stinks if you are so concerned about other people's.
7) Quit making general comments about women being fantastic parents and men being crappy ones. It's just not true. I know some fantastic dads. I also know some crappy moms. Sometimes, gulp, I am the crappy mom. And my beloved swoops in, picks up the small child who just got yelled at cause mom was still in fight mode from a long work week, and is the fantastic dad they need in that moment.
8) On the flip side, don't make the same comments in reverse with a snide compliment dripped in sarcasm. 'Isn't he such a great dad...' For taking his kids to the grocery store? Really? I admit, when I take the kids to the store I feel like I have climbed a mountain, barefoot, but it's his job remember. He does it weekly. Sometimes more often than that. When I'm frazzled at the store people look at me like: lady, get it together. I want to scream: but you have no idea that this isn't normal for me and if I have to hear 'can we get a toy?' one more time I'm going to run screaming for the parking lot. 
In conclusion, life really is more complicated than stereotypes and simple gender roles. It is time we all grew up and expanded our universes a bit. Parenting these days is not so simple nor so uniform as it was thirty years ago. These days the primary parent can easily be the dad. It's high time people grew accustomed to that and quit acting like rude idiots. You might think it's just one little comment but you don't realize that EVERYONE is making them, and that it is frankly getting old. 
On that note. Happy Father's Day. To you 100% SAH superstar dads: you truly rock. To you 50% coexisting dads, God bless you. To you less than %ers, and I'm frankly with you sadly think I'm only hitting like 10% lately as it's been a crazy work season, do what you can and balance as best you can, all choices are hard to live with. Quit apologizing, be confident in the men God made you to be and go forward with your life. Keep being the dad you need to be, it is enough my brother. 

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