With Father’s Day this weekend, so many of us have big plans to thank that very special man in our kids lives. But what if your kids father is, well, absent? And I don’t mean not physically there. What if he’s just not interested in taking an active role in your kids lives? While I can’t personally comprehend this situation, Jeff Pearlman writes over at CNN.com about physically present/emotionally absent dads who, unfortunately, do exist. (A Father’s Day Wish: Dads, Wake The Hell Up.)
In it, he describes dads who would rather play golf for 5 hours on Sunday then spend quality time with their kids, painting their toenails pink and waking up early to play. He makes the argument that just because you spend time at the office all week, doesn’t mean you have the right to come home and spend the rest of your time recovering from it.
Can I get a freaking AMEN?
I, and most of the moms I know, am lucky enough to have a partner in this whole parenting deal who follows each of Pearlman’s 10 Commandments of Righteous Fatherhood. Sadly though, I’ve seen many moms who aren’t technically single parents, but are still left doing this thing alone.
And while I’m not meaning to put all the blame on these women, and I DO think the men should MAN UP and take on their fair share, I’ve got to say, some of these moms are… enablers.
Moms, I know we have a tendency to feel like our way is the only way, but the lesson to be learned here is just because it’s not done the way you would have done it, doesn’t mean it’s not right. Don’t nag your partner because he doesn’t match the kids clothes like you would, he doesn’t do the dishes like you would (guilty!), he doesn’t swaddle like you would.
While it’s one thing to offer help and suggestions when they are entirely clueless, it’s something completely different to say, “Ugh. You NEVER DO THIS RIGHT. Just give the baby to me. I’ll do it myself.” And then, from then on, you just assume you are the only person intelligent enough in your household to put a diaper on the correct way and take on the responsibility yourself. The result? A father who never changes diapers.
If you aren’t that mom, and you could drop your baby with a loaded diaper on his lap, walk away for 30 minutes, only to come back to a man who still flat out refuses to change it? Whoo boy. Wake the hell up. Poopy diapers are probably one of the least messy jobs of parenting.
And he’s never been alone with the kids? Ever? Why? Is it because he’s terrified? Is it because you think you’re the only person qualified to keep them alive? Try this little experiment. LEAVE. Without the kid(s). Just leave. It’s not illegal. You’ll come back. The kids will be fine. And, when faced with the challenge, I’m pretty sure you’ll find he won’t kill any of them. If in your heart of hearts you are genuinely afraid he will, wake the hell up and leave with the kids.
What I’m trying to say here is don’t make yourself a martyr. It takes equal parts mother and father to make a baby, and it takes EQUAL parts to raise one. (Edited to add- This isn’t me saying single parents aren’t capable of raising a kid. It’s just me saying that those who have a partner in all this, should expect equal input.)
And this isn’t just a SAHM thing vs. a WOHM thing. It doesn’t matter what your 9-5 is. The hours you and your partner are with the kids together you should be approaching parenting as a team. Yes, even at night.
I understand there are exceptions. My best friend’s husband flies planes for a living. Obviously, the nights before he flies it’s pretty imperative he gets good sleep. But you know what? He makes it up to her on the weekends. My husband, on the other hand, is not responsible for keeping anyone alive at his job… like I am. And napping at home with the kids, for me, is not an option these days. We share in the misery of frequent night wakings TOGETHER right now.
So you’re crying about how little time your husband spends with the kids, how little he does to help you out? I ask you, is it because you’re enabling him? Playing into the stereotype that men can’t ever parent as good as women can? If so, wake the hell up and realize you’re creating your own hell. If it’s because he genuinely, flat out refuses to be an equal partner in this? Wake the hell up and… get thee to counseling.
Be good to your baby daddy this weekend if he’s your equal parenting partner. If he’s not, well you probably already bought him a gift. Go ahead and give it to him on Sunday, make him pose for pictures with the kids. Then, starting Monday, wake the hell up and
expect demand more from him.
Kendall is 3 years old and Leyna is 5.5 months, and I am damn blessed to have procreated with such a fantastic man.