According to the hourly reminders that someone set on my phone, Mother’s Day is this weekend. It’s the one solitary day all year long that anyone ever says anything nice about moms.
Psst! That last line was a little bit of sarcasm. Because let’s face it, when it comes to parenting, moms already get all the praise. (Not that I’m complaining.)
Sure, that “praise” often calcifies into “being taken for granted,” which is just about complaint #1 from women everywhere (along with “I want more romance/passion!” and “socks go IN the hamper, not NEAR the hamper!”) but if you think about it, it’s a positive thing! Abilities and skills are only taken for granted once someone comes to rely on them. Kudos, moms everywhere! You’ve raised the bar for yourselves.
Unfortunately, that bar is often just a little too high for your liking. So I’m going to level the playing field.
Moms are sick of being expected to excel, expected to do everything better than their male counterparts, and watching us dads get all sorts of praise simply for trying. I agree, this inequality shall not stand.
This Mother’s Day, to lend a hand to my partners in parenting, I’ve come up with a list of things moms don’t do well, in order to bring everyone’s unrealistic expectations down a notch. YOU’RE WELCOME, LADIES.
- Ignoring the kids – This is an essential parenting skill and I’m great at it. Seriously, I’m like the Michael Jordan of ignoring my son. I can tune out his whining and tantrums and pleas for mercy without thinking twice or even putting on my headphones. This was incredibly handy during sleep-training. Moms, paragons of compassion that they are, feel their child’s distress in their cores. Dads don’t even have cores, unless you count the core of grease and booze that powers my emotionless flesh-bag of a body. Ignoring my kid is my default mode, but Moms need at least two glasses of wine to forget they’ve given birth to the monster in the other room. Moms and their stupid, big, superior-to-dads hearts!
- Letting the Kids Wear Dirty Clothes – Just turn the undies inside out and voila, good as new! Especially on a (mostly potty-trained) four-year-old. If he wants to wear the same Superman shirt every day? It’s not like he’s sweating through it when he’s pasting popsicle sticks together. I say go for it, junior! Women are suckers for cleanliness, even when it’s unnecessary. By which I mean, women are suckers.
- Dealing with Being Sick – What’s that you say? Moms are GREAT at being sick, and at getting everything done even when they’re under the weather? Please. Even if that’s true, it’s only because the terminology is all wrong. Being “good” at being sick – i.e., being functional, “managing the household,” and “holding everything together” – is TERRIBLE. When you’re sick you need to SHUT IT DOWN. Men get a bad rap for being useless, whiny babies at the first sign of a cold, but THAT’S HOW IT SHOULD BE. Milk that shit, homies!
- Letting the Kids Have Messy Hair – I’ve never once combed my son’s hair. (Full disclosure: I never comb my own hair). He’s four! Who’s he trying to impress? And yet my wife won’t let him leave the house without attempting to tame it; she wets it, pushes it down, brushes it. When she’s done, it mostly looks the same. Plus. he’s a boy. He doesn’t even care what his hair looks like, so why should we?
- Encouraging Children Through Fear – My son has started tee-ball and it’s been something of an adventure so far. He’s tentative and nervous. That’s where I step in, to berate and bully him into acting like a man, the same way my old pee-wee soccer coach Mr. Dawson did, causing me to hate soccer and Mr. Dawson for the rest of my life. Mom and Buried keeps telling me “You’re scaring him!” and “Yelling at him doesn’t work!” but that’s false because I’ve never seen him run faster. Away from the field, and me, and now he never wants to play again, but still: kid’s got jets! We never would have found that out with her ineffective gentle encouragement and understanding.
- Letting Messes Linger – When Detective Munch is playing, he has a tendency to yank out every toy at once, leaving a trail of action figures, crayons and LEGO all over the house. Mom and Buried can’t help but try to clean it up as she goes, while he is still awake, still playing, still spreading clutter in his wake. Rather than drive yourself crazy at the way it keeps reproducing, why not just wait until he’s finished, yell at him for ten minutes in an attempt to get him to clean up, then do it all at once? The spilled milk and rotten pieces of banana will still be there in three hours!
- Playing Superheroes – Moms like to play pretend as much as the next parent. But it’s a lot easier to join your kid’s superhero games when you don’t confuse Bruce Banner with Bruce Jenner. Mom and Buried just doesn’t have the background I do; most moms don’t share the passion for superheroes or Star Wars or Transformers that dads do. Because Moms didn’t grow up hiding from girls in their rooms, reading comic books, and watching movies. Go ahead and teach your kids about the real world, ladies. We dads got the totally useless, development-stunting fictional worlds covered!
Now, there are probably plenty of moms out there, some of whom are reading this right now, who can honestly say they do all of these things better than their husbands – and even like Star Wars and “Superfriends” more than a lot of dads. And I know there are many, many dads who will gladly concede their inferiority in these areas (I even know some who hate Star Wars!) while also laying claim to prowess in other parenting zones. Both of you are right, because parenting isn’t a gender-based responsibility, not anymore.
Last year, I tried to take back the phrase “Mr. Mom” from the people who use it as an insult and claim it as praise for all those dads who handle stereo-typically mom-centric duties. This year, I’m opening up the door for moms to admit that there are things they don’t do as well as dads, not to belittle mothers on Mother’s Day, but to promote equality.
Not only do moms and dads both contribute, not only are moms and dads equally capable of handling most parenting duties, we’re equally capable of sucking at them too. I suck at most of it! But I don’t care who cleans the house or makes lunch or gives the kid a bath or teaches him to swing a baseball bat, I’m just glad it gets done. Parents are a team; there’s no need to pick a side.
But if we do, you’re on Mr. Dawson’s. I can’t go through that again.