When moms get together it's not to brag about how amazing their partners are and how much they've lucked out in picking a person with whom to raise a small human. Nope. People tend to bond over trading stories of shared misery, whether or not it's exaggerated or even real. Many a lady dinner includes a good around-the-table venting session about all the things that each woman's partner has done wrong (lately). However, if you think about it, there's a lot of things moms say about their partners that aren't OK and that aren't exactly fair.
A lot of these comments are gender biased and rely on overplayed clichés about men's shortcomings. You know, the kinds of things laughed about on those sitcoms where there's the big oaf of a husband and his wise-cracking, better-looking wife. I am no angel when it comes to the partner-shaming. Sure, a lot of my comments have come from times when I have felt real frustration, or even raw anger stemming from disagreements we've had over parenthood or our shared responsibilities. However, some emotional reactions can be fleeting and some not-so-nice comments about our partners are better left kept close to the chest.
For example, sometimes and after my husband and I would have worked through a certain issue and moved past it, a friend would make a comment that sounded snarky to me, alluding to "that horrible thing he did" and expecting me to be like, "Ugh, isn't he the worst." Instead, I would feel offended. "How could she say something like that about my husband?" I would wonder. Then it would hit me: I was the one who planted that seed. I was the one who had originally said all that crap about whatever it was he had done. So, if you don't like the way certain comments about your partner sound coming out of someone else's mouth, maybe they weren't the best thing to say in the first place.
They Can't Dress Theirs Kid To Save Their Life
Say this one out loud and immediately you've get this mental image of a dad getting his kid dressed in a bathing suit and shorts with tights over the whole deal and it's the middle of winter. "Oops!" he says, with a shrug and a smile. What does he know? He's just a buffoon. Amazing he's gotten this far in life, huh?
Really? Can we just give dudes a little bit of credit? For the record, I know quite a few women who, in my opinion, have no sense of style when it comes to dressing their kids, either. Just sayin'.
They're Useless When It Comes To Childcare
I also know mothers who have 1 year old that have never been put to bed by their dads because the mom doesn't think dad would know what to do. "He'll probably mess up!" OK, but then what? "What Earth-shattering thing is going to happen?" I'll ask my friend.
People tell me I am "lucky" because my husband is such a "hands on" dad. I hate that one, too. I got to know him pretty darn well (eight years) before I decided to try and have a family with him, at which point there were many signs that he would be a wonderful father. It wasn't all luck, it was planning and choice. I also think part of it was that I am a "hands-off" mom, in that I am more than happy to let him take on all the work so I can relax whenever possible. I was never the kind of mom to be like, "Ugh, let me do it because you're just gonna mess it up," so we both ended up having to learn things.
Anyway, I think we need to give partners more credit. Or, if we haven't given them credit, we at least need to give them opportunities to rise to the occasion.
They Don't Deserve Time To Themselves
I grew up in a household where it was often resented when my dad was doing something that was fun and just for himself. If he was enjoying playing guitar after a long day of being with patients in the office, my mom would get annoyed. "Oy, with the music!" she would complain. So in the first few years of parenthood, I also had a lot of trouble understanding my husband's need for "me" time. I thought only I deserved that time, what with me "slaving away" at home with the kids. Why would he need to escape anywhere after having had the joy of working in an office with other adults all day?
They Could Stand To Lose A Few Pounds
Body shaming is just plain not cool for anyone. Not for you, not for me, and not for your partner no matter what. No way, no how. It is especially not nice to gossip about. Just, no.
I hear this sometimes about partners and I can only imagine how ashamed we would feel if a group of dudes sat around a table picking apart the bodies of the mothers of their children. OMG. So much rage, right?
They're Unhelpful Around The House
If saying how idiotic their partners are when it comes to minding the children is the number one complaint from moms, complaining about how messy their partners are is a close second. Partners tend to get a bad rep when it comes to the general upkeep of the household. In my opinion, the culprit here is enabling. If you allow your partner to be a slob and you constantly pick up after them (or, if you insist that they be a slob because you don't trust them to clean things "your way") then bravo! You will have the pleasure of living with an unhelpful slob.
I am a crazy cleaner and organizer. I insist on being left to my own devices when the house needs cleaning and I prefer doing it myself because it brings me pleasure. Yes, I am strange and I own that. What does not bring me pleasure, and what my husband is well aware of, is things that are not put in their rightful place after he comes home at the end of the day. I will happily fold everyone's laundry and organize my husband's work shirts and socks by color but will simply lose it if his shoes are left willy nilly around the house instead of in a closet or if a clean sweater is tossed carelessly on the floor. He knows where I draw the line and respect that, most of the time.
The funny thing is, I have had plenty of conversations with fathers who insist that they are "the clean one" and that it is the moms who are the messy ones. So it can be a matter of who you ask, if you ask me.
They Don't Get To Have Opinions About Certain Things
Honestly, why would someone not be allowed to have an opinion? Sometimes moms say things like this about their partners, in the context of, "He didn't have a child come out of his vagina, so therefore he doesn't get to have an opinion about this aspect of the child's life." I don't get that.
Men are limited by science as to what they can physically do when it comes to birthing a child, but they are not limited in terms of the input they can have, the values they can help instill, the nurturing that they can do, and all the love that they can give to the child that you are raising together.
They Wouldn't Understand
It may be very, very difficult for a partner to understand what a mother is going through or how she is approaching a particular situation. This is true. However, we are limiting our partners if we cut them off from the start by saying that they simply would not understand us, especially if we don't even try to explain. It may take a lot of work, and yes, you may need to involve some finger puppets to really break it down, but you chose this person as your partner for a good reason. Might as well trust yourself that they're pretty decent and have the capability of attempting to see things through your eyes, or at least being able to empathize.
I went through a dark period of thinking that my husband didn't "see me" or know who I was at all. It was a scary, pretty awful time. We weren't communicating and, in the background, some big life changes were happening which weren't helping at al. I let many of my friends know what I thought of him at this time, often saying things like, "He doesn't get me. He doesn't appreciate me." On the other side of that period, now I can see that it was me who wasn't seeing him. There were some major, like seriously major things he was trying to tell me, and hoping that I would understand that I just couldn't see. I was too busy thinking about my own junk. Sometimes it is too easy to shift the blame on your partner who "just doesn't understand" than to take a good hard look at yourself and your own clouded vision.
They Always Manage To Mess Something Up
When a mom leaves her partner to handle some kind of domestic responsibility, it is usually with an air of caution and a warning of "just make sure you don't" preceding it. When she returns home to find the house hasn't burnt down and her child is in a clean diaper, she wants to give her partner some kind of prize simply for meeting the bare minimum one would require of a shady babysitter one has found off the street. This is not cool. Moms should not set the bar so low that the expectation level is "don't maim the baby or destroy the house".
They Are The Babysitters Anytime They Are In Charge Of Watching Their Own Children Solo
Seriously, you guys. Please stop saying the word "babysit" when discussing a father watching his kids. A father is no more a babysitter than you are.
Anything Comparing Their Behavior To That Of Their Young Children's
"It's like having more than one child." I've heard that one so many times I've lost count. My friends expect me to "amen" in solidarity, but I can't. I don't feel that way at all about my husband. His own family has always said that he's been like a "little man" since he was about 5. Plus, I can't imagine what it must be like to have sex with someone you also frequently infantilize.