Fatherhood vs Motherhood, or, The Hero and the Nothing
I just saw a post on Facebook where someone is making a new page, “Dads Winning at Fatherhood,” (or something like that, it’s probably best that I don’t know the exact wording in case they decide to attack me for hating their wonderful page idea.) and it angers me. The pages was simply pictures of dads playing with their kids, letting their daughter’s paint their nails, having a tea party, reading to their children on the subway, and so forth. Basically, pictures of dads just being dads. Parenting. Doing exactly what is expected of a parent.
Things mothers do Every. Single. Day.
No, I’m not asking for gratification. I’m not asking for a “Mom’s Winning at Fatherhood” page on Facebook, hell, I feel like I lose a lot more than I win. But why, when a father steps up and parent’s his child, as they should considering it is their kid too, is it a huge cause for celebration and when a mom does the same thing, it is overlooked?
I am so sick and tired of the double standard between mothers and fathers.
For instance: My husband started a company, a business (not by himself, if anyone thinks I’m trying to give him all the credit, I’m not) and there was absolutely no question that he would do it. He wanted something more out of his career and it was a no-brainer. Go for it, take a chance in life! Yay! When I started a business, I got a great deal of flak for it, including from said husband (No, I am not bitching about him, please please please do not think this is a blog for me to bitch about my husband. It is not, if you asked him if this was true, he would agree with you). Why was this a big deal? Because what would happen to the children? Who would look after them? Isn’t a mother supposed to think of her kids first and herself second?
Why were these questions never asked when he wanted to start a business? And it wasn’t just him questioning me (he was probably the most supportive person in the long run, there was just an underlying current coming from his belief system inherent in him from his childhood, inherent in most of society when you think about it), this was a great deal of people thinking I should not put the time into a business, that it was selfish of me when I had small children. Never has their father ever encountered this kind of thinking. And for the record, their father came to the realization that my starting business was the best thing that had ever happened to his children, especially his daughter, because she could see that she was also allowed to pursue her goals. My working at something actually empowered her. Now if I suggested just staying home with them, he’d kick my ass out the door arguing that the kids are better off!
And I’m not trying to just complain about my situation, I’m using this as a concrete example, a real life thing that happens all the time. I felt incredibly guilty for working so much. People would tell me over and over how amazing my husband was because he helped out with the kids. Because I would come home after working on Saturday to a homecooked meal, a clean house, piles of clean laundry and happy kids. That basically made him a superhero.
And why? Why is it when he does all those things, he is likened to a god and when I do them, it is simply what I am supposed to do. Actually, more than that, it is shocking if I don’t do them. “What??? You make your husband do the laundry? But doesn’t he work all day?”
Do you get where I’m going with this people? Do you get how far we still have to go in terms of equal rights? As long as fathers will be celebrated for simply following through on having dished out half the chromosomes (or however that works) for their children and the mothers are simply doing what is expected, things are not equal.
When I was working in my shop I felt so guilty. I was trying to run the shop, still volunteer for my kids school or classes or things that were needed, still be at every assembly, performance, activity, and try to have just enough energy at the end of the day to read to them and I still felt like I was failing. And yet, when I complained to my husband he said to me, “Do you realize if I even did half of what you are doing, everyone would go on about how amazing a father I am?” And I realized, he was right. When he parent’s his children, he is applauded. When I do it, it goes unnoticed. Why is that?
Yes, this comes back to how undervalued we are as mothers, but we as mothers do it to. That facebook page was started by a woman. She would rather spend her time celebrating something that SHOULD BE AUTOMATIC and ignore what already is. We as women give so much credit to the men in our lives for “helping out.” Why must they “help us” parent? Why must it be a big deal to ask them to throw in a load of laundry, get groceries, cook supper? Do they not live in the house as well? Are they not equal owners of those eggs they fertilized? If there was no woman in their home, would they not be doing all of this themselves?
I am not asking for applause. I am not asking for someone to notice what I do. But I am asking for people to notice how unfair we are being, how unfair women are being to other women. We must demand better or we will never get better. We will always be second to men if we allow ourselves to be. If the fact that a father, after having a tea party with his daughter, gets applauded on social media and the other fifteen tea parties the mother had goes completely unnoticed, what does that say for all that we do on a daily basis? Why must we take on all of it, and the man just has to go to work and anything beyond that is cause for celebration?
Men’s quality of life increases when they get married while women’s decreases. And you wonder why?
Personally, I am getting really tired of the looks of surprise and shock I get when I tell people all my husband does around the house, all I’m not willing to do. Not willing to do because I can’t handle it all. Because I am unwilling to sacrifice my selfcare, all my personal time, to free up more of his. And not that he has free time and it’s not that I’m a bitch and refuse to do anything around the house, but I simply can’t. And I don’t see why it’s so much to ask him to do his fair share. That includes running the kids to their activities, volunteering in their classes or for their activities if he is able, that includes laundry and it would include cooking if he were ever home in time to do so.
As a side note, my husband was actually quite offended. He took our daughter to a weekend event and they decided to go just the two of them. And yes, he did have a great deal of help because he didn’t really know what to do, but neither did I. But there were very kindhearted women offering to look after our daughter for him so he could “have a break.” Why is it he needed a break but none of the other mothers did? This is the kind of double standard I am talking about.
But do you know who I get the most “looks” from in this department? Women. Women who roll their eyes or raise their eyebrows and think, “oh, my poor husband.” Well, it goes two ways. It’s either, “Oh, poor him,” for having to work so hard and then get put to work by me. Or, “Oh, he is so amazing.”
Is this how we want to live our lives? Worshipping the fathers while cleaning up after them?
Personally, I will not. I will support the father of my children and do all those things a supportive partner does. Because that’s what I am – a PARTNER. It takes two people to make a baby, it should also take two to raise one. That includes all the work that goes along with it.
So yes,it is really sweet and cute when fathers are having tea parties with their daughters or having their nails painted. But is it not also sweet and cute when the mother does this as well? Should it not also be cute that they make their daughter supper and take her to school as well?
Kudos to all you fathers and mothers out there who are truly parenting together, isn’t it time this should not be celebrated as an anomaly, however? Isn’t it time we just recognize that we’re both in this together and ti should just be an automatic, everyday occurrence? Because wherever there is a winner, there is also a loser, and in this day and age women should stop putting themselves into the losing category.