Our family of three just got back from a great little “pre-return to work holiday.” And it was just what the doctor ordered. Except for one little thing: the number of people who complimented my husband.
Before I launch into why that bugged me, let me lay out a few examples.
One afternoon the boys went up to nap together, and I wasn’t sleepy, so I stayed by the pool for a bit. One of the women in a group beside me asked if “dad was giving me a break”…commenting on what a good husband he was to do that.
I mentioned to the same women – later in our conversation – that our trip was a celebration of the trade-off coming: that I am about to back to work and N is getting ready to take over for the last four months of our joined parenthood leave. To which one of them said “You’re so lucky your husband wants to do that.”
So I got the compliments on what a good husband and father N is (as I do often, not just on vacation). N also got them directly.
He had multiple people coming up to him to tell him they’d been watching him: watching him walk and spend time with Little-Z. They all, in various ways, commented on what a great dad he is.
Now, I’m not disputing that. N is a great dad. He’s an amazing one in fact. And I have grown to love him in a whole new way as I watch him grow as a father.
Buuuuuuut…NOBODY has ever come up to me and complimented me on being a good mother for spending time with my son. Nobody approached me in the pool to tell me I was a great wife for swimming with the kid so N could chuck a football around with some lovely people we met. And I checked: nobody has ever told N he was lucky to have a wife who wanted to take eight whole months off of my career to help raise our son. Nobody.
JT (Justin Trudeau, not the good one) said it recently: it is 2015. What’s with the double-standard? Why is a mother choosing to be a good parent the silent expectation? And why does a father who makes that same choice get showered in accolades?
I’m waiting for more fathers to step up and share the job of being a parent…so that it won’t seem so exceptional to take a turn walking and humming a child to sleep. And I’m making it a goal to compliment women for the unseen and unappreciated work they manage every day.
So, to all you mothers out there: you rock. Whether you split your work between in and out of home pursuits, or if you stay at home with your kids (in which case, you are braver than I am), well done. For all the moments you slipped out of conversations you really wanted to be part of, but needed to shush a fussy baby: bravo. For all the solo walks to the grocery store and errands across town that keep the house together: way to make those happen. For daily remembering to read a book, do tummy time and (hopefully some days) remember those pesky vitamin D drops: you’re great people!
(And for the record: I don’t have to go back to work early. I’m choosing to go back to a workplace that helps make me feel fulfilled and engaged. Because, while I love the sh*t out of my boy, I need more than him to fill my days. It is just who I am. Plus, my husband deserves the same opportunity I had to build a lasting bond with our Little-Z. It is only fair.)