WARNING: This blog post contains high levels of sarcasm and attitude. It’s the type of blog post my dad will tell me is “funny, but a little too angry.” Sorry Dad, I know you like the weepy ones. Today is just not one of those days.
It’s BBQ season now, and with America’s birthday right around the corner that means we have a lot to look forward to. Things like…
1. Gaining a minimum of 5 pounds eating one chip at time without actually putting any on the plate so they don’t “count.”
2. Getting a whole lot of side-eye when your toddler shouts “I want a hog!” every time she sees a grill. (Hog = hot dog in toddler-speak)
3. Husbands everywhere getting 20x the credit they deserve for feeding their kids hamburgers. 40x the credit if they cut it into little pieces.
Now I know it sounds like I’m a little bit salty about this husbands things – but I promise you I am not. Dan is actually really helpful 40% of the time.
Just kidding. It’s more like 65%.
Anyway Dan really is a very “participatory” dad and despite all the shit I give him for texting me questions like “what size diapers do we use?” or “do I need to pack a sweatshirt” in 40 degree weather – he takes care of Mia every Monday, all day, by himself, and does an incredible job.
But – and this is a big but – he definitely doesn’t deserve a gold star for it.
Why? Because nobody gives me a gold a star for taking care of her every Wednesday and Saturday and Sunday and Thursday night, etc. He doesn’t ask for a gold star and he doesn’t get one because he’s a dad and that’s his job.
Which brings me to the BBQ issue.
I’ve noticed a certain trend recently – well mostly since having Mia – and it goes a little something like this. (NOTE: This is a fictional representation. It is not a representation of everybody or anybody in particular. There are lots of families where this is not the case. I know. I know. I know I know I know. All the super dads out there can hold onto their hate mail. This song is not about you.)
Kid wakes up at 530am. Mom gets up with him/her.
Kid wants breakfast. Mom cobbles something together, then cleans up the resulting mess.
Mom starts prepping food for the BBQ later that day.
Dad gets up.
Mom cleans the entire house with a toddler clinging onto her leg.
Guests show up.
Dad grabs a beer and goes outside with the guys to start up the grill.
Mom sets up the entire spread, delivers burgers to dad to be grilled.
Kids are hungry and lose their shit. Mom chases after them.
Mom goes pee with a kid sitting on her lap.
Dad cuts up a burger and feeds it to the kid mom just kicked out of the bathroom.
And the crowd goes wild.
Can you see the problem here? Anyone? Anyone?
Mom handles the kids all day everyday and people don’t even look up from their chips and dip. Dad handles the kid for one second while sipping a beer with his buddies and everyone is all “oh, he’s SO SWEET. What a great dad.”
OMG. He’s feeding his own child. Can I get a “who cares?”
The story above is fictional but I see variations of it all the time. At Mia’s birthday party last year I heard all about how AMAZING all the dads were being. The remarks were about dads who were doing things like taking their kids to go pee, or feeding their infant daughter a bottle (of breastmilk that the mom pumped earlier that day or more likely in the middle of the night).
The problem with this rhetoric is that we are actually discrediting dads by getting all googly-eyed every time they do something as normal as feeding their offspring. If we act like they’re doing something exemplary, what we’re really saying is that tending to their children is going above and beyond the expectations of fatherhood.
No it is not.
It’s wonderful to see a man a be a dad. I get it – I really do. It’s super sweet to see the man that was once a psychotic little demon-child mellowing into a responsible, patient, loving and completely capable father. Especially if your own husband never saw the inside of a diaper.
But don’t insult him by letting on that you’re surprised. Smile at him. Offer to help if he needs it. And do him, and his kiddos the biggest favor by acting like everything is normal.
Because even if Dads acting as caretakers doesn’t feel normal right now, someday, it will. We all just need to fake it ’til we make it there.