I want to say straight up that my husband is a great dad and an exceptional husband. I love him dearly and this source of anger is in no way a reflection on him, rather our society at large.
Oftentimes I’m told by other mums (and sometimes dads) how lucky I am to have a husband that is such a good dad. What brings on these comments? Simple things like having one night out for the first time since my son was born. (He’s 13 months old!) The fact that my husband now wakes up to soothe the baby and put him back to sleep because I am trying to wean him. Or because he does the washing and looks after the kids on weekends so I can get some writing done.
My husband changes nappies, puts the kids to sleep and reads them stories. Why does he do these things? Mostly because they are his children as much as they are mine, and he loves spending time with them. Also, he and I are a team. We always have been.
Being a part of a team means supporting one another wherever we can. That kind of support means lifting the other when they are down, giving them a break when they are tired and doing the best you can for each other to make sure you’re winning.
So here’s what happens when we glorify what dads do. Firstly, we set an unreal expectation that simplest of parenting tasks, when done by dads, are now considered huge achievements. This leads to an implication that when dads change a nappy, it’s a big deal. When dads look after the kids for an evening, that’s a huge task. When we consider things that way, it could put mums in a position where they are made to feel like they’re a burden. Particularly if mums are always being told how ‘lucky’ they are to have dad look after the kids.
Secondly, it downplays the role of a mother. I have never once heard someone say to any dad, “You’re so lucky to have someone give up their career and dedicate themselves completely to your children while you maintain your life.”
Whenever my husband goes out, his friends don’t make a point of reminding him of how good he has it that I am looking after the children.
I don’t want praise or to be consistently told that I’m amazing. What I do want is an even playing field.
Regardless of what the family dynamic may look like, mums, dads, single parents, step parents, anyone at all that looks after children or plays a part in raising a child is incredible. It is an extremely difficult job with long hours and can be draining. All parents and people involved should be given the credit they deserve. Whatever your parenting looks like, good on you for contributing to the next generation. You’re doing a great job and your child is very lucky to have you.