The other day, I was left home alone with my two kids. For a few hours I tasted the life of a single parent.
It didn’t work out.
As soon as my wife walked in the door, I put down the baby and picked up the bourbon. I won’t lie: I was drinking to forget — to forget the stress, the scrambling, and the screaming. I had spent a few measly hours managing my kids all by myself, and it was enough to rededicate me to my marriage for another 10 years.
Thankfully, I’m not a single parent, and neither is my wife. But we have a baby, and due in large part to her lady parts, she’s taken on the lion’s share of the work. I’m sure there have been occasions where she feels like a single parent, but I do my best to prevent that feeling by sharing the load, because I’m not a lazy deadbeat stuck in the past.
I’m looking at you, dads who don’t pull your weight!
I know, I know: #NotAllDads! Of course not all dads are bad dads! And lately, it’s fewer and fewer dads are bad dads. More men are staying home with their kids than ever before, and men are more involved in the parenting process than ever before. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some Neanderthals out there who could use a nudge in the direction of the 21st century.
It’s 2016, equality and feminism and Ryan Reynolds, etc. Fathers who actively participate in parenting aren’t superheroes (so stop treating them like they are), but those dads who don’t lift a finger to support their wives and raise their kids? They are villains. I’m not a superhero, or the world’s greatest dad, and there are plenty of things I screw up as both a father and a husband. But I try. And it’s the trying that separates me – and all the other guys who recognize that parenting is a partnership, not a solo bolo (shout out to Comedy Bang Bang for some reason!) – from the bad dads. And the bad husbands.
Those two things go hand in hand, because bad dads tend to make bad husbands.
I have a seven-month-old baby, a five-year-old son, and a there’s-no-way-I’m-mentioning-her-age-online wife. We are a family, and as such, we are a team. We assist and support each other, by which I mean my wife and I assist and support each other and our kids do nothing, because a baby can’t do shit and my five-year-old refuses to. FYI, when I said “we assist and support each other,” I mostly just meant “we let each other take the occasional nap.” And despite recent findings, she needs more naps than I do. So I do my best to let her get them.
Look, babies need to eat a lot. My son is hungry every few hours, and that includes the middle of the night. It’s a hell of a burden for a breastfeeding mom, having to be at the beck and call of this biological ball and chain, and if you’ve ever seen a baby and its mother, you know that feeding the kid is only a small piece of the pie. Babies want their mommies, and mommies love their babies. But mommies need a break. And that’s where Daddy comes in.
It’s not easy being a baby’s primary source of calories, comfort, and companionship, and she deserves the occasional respite. All moms do. I can’t breastfeed our infant, but I can bottle-feed him so my wife can get some sleep, or get sauced, or go to the spa. So I do.
If the kid will take a bottle and my wife is exhausted (if?), I’ll tell her, “Sleep through! I can handle the middle-of-the-night feeding!” (And catch up on the DVR.) If her friends invite her out for a girls’ night, I tell her, “Go ahead! I can feed the kids and put them to bed!” (Provided we have some Benadryl.) If she is desperate for a nap on a Saturday afternoon or to sleep in a little longer, I say, “Get to it! I can handle the kids!” (We have Netflix.)
My kids definitely prefer my wife, and that’s fine. She’s the favorite parent (even if most of the reason moms get that role is because of biology, stupid inseverable nine-months-in-the-womb-based bond!) and that’s not always easy. What is easy is being her favorite spouse. All we dads have to do is our part. It’s not 1950 anymore, guys.
And remember, women can use Ashley Madison too.
A slightly different version of this post originally ran on Scary Mommy.