When my partner and I parent side-by-side, others can't help but compare our accomplishments and failures. While my bar has somehow been set impossibly high, his is so damn low people are impressed when he can hold a damn baby. Thankfully there are words to describe the horror that is dads being praised for no reason, because screaming into the dark abyss or the nearest pillow just doesn't capture the frustration. It's a damn travesty (and super annoying) that dads aren't held to the same standard that mothers are expected to naturally meet or surpass. And don't get me wrong, I'm not referring to all fathers. But in my experience, a helluva lot of them get the credit moms actually deserve, if not more.
Since the birth of our daughter 11 years ago, my partner's contributions have been more widely received and overtly celebrated than the many, many things I've done in the name of parenthood. When he went to work, I stayed home to care for our two kids, and though my list of tasks runs a mile long on any given day, he's the one who gets all the accolades. No matter where we're at, crowds flock to hear his lengthy work stories that only sometimes involve our children. With an energy that draws people in, and compels them to engage, he's always been deemed the "cool" dad, even if he's done nothing "cool." Then I'm stuck being the "strict" mom, the "boring" mom, and most often, the overlooked caregiver doing all the work with little-to-no recognition.
I'm proud of my husband's work accomplishments, and I'm also grateful he's taken care of us financially all these years while I fumbled through various jobs and freelance projects and cared for our children. But at home, I'm the one who does everything. From working my own job, to writing books, to chores, errands, grocery shopping, attending school events, cooking, and then some, all of my daily accomplishments and hard work doesn't seem to mean as much when I'm standing next to my partner. It's enraging when he's praised for picking the kids up from school, doing a single load of laundry, going to work, or simply telling a child he loves them. I've had enough. Enough. Which is why I'm more than grateful for my generous vocabulary I'm able to use in order to describe the bullsh*t that is dads being endlessly praised for doing the minimum. A vocabulary that, you guessed it, includes the following words:
My first reaction, always, is to cry "bullsh*t." Because it is. Like — hello? — I get that it's adorable to see my partner on a walk with the kids, but I didn't get a gold star the three times I took my kids on similar walks. Give me a break and raise his bar a little higher already.
Do you even hear yourself when you're busy doting on my partner and how "selfless" he is for grabbing takeout to feed the kids while I'm gone? You do realize he has to give them food, like, by law, right? Also, who cares that I cook every meal, mostly from scratch, every damn day because he got in the car and drove a whole three miles to pay someone else to do it. Yes, clearly he's the one putting in all the work.
My partner's friends and family are obsessed with the fact that he works hard to take care of us financially. I don't argue with that undeniable fact, either, but I work just as hard, too. In fact, sometimes I work harder. Because where he only goes to his one job, I'm juggling all the other jobs that facilitate taking care of tiny, needy human beings, and all at the same damn time. Excuse me while I laugh, but you've got to be joking, right?
Why should he get all the credit for sweeping the floor once, when I do it daily without so much as a literal pat on the back? Just... no. This is an attack on hardworking mothers the world over, and I will not stand for it.
Maybe it's whiny, but giving dads kudos for, say, taking the kids to the grocery store, is just unfair. I take them to the same store almost every damn day because we don't have accessible sitters and someone always forgets some vital ingredient needed for tonight's dinner. Basically, stop telling him what a great dad he is for dragging them along on whatever errand he's running, unless you're going to tell me the exact same thing.
If you have no qualms praising something so asinine, where are your standards, people? Are they with the dad who finally made time to sit and play Legos with our son at the end of a long day, or are they with the mom who played Legos all day between completing work assignments, cooking dinner, and folding everyone's laundry? Because if you say the former, maybe you're the problem.
It just is.
We've come a long way as a society, so a dad actually spending time with his kids or contributing to household chores shouldn't be a big deal. I do these things without anyone thanking me, so when he's thanked or told how great he is for doing them it's not only disrespectful to me, but to a so-called progressive, feminist man who wants to be an equal.
Sorry, but, did you just praise my partner for seeing his kids off to school? I mean, I was there, too. Did you just not see me? Am I invisible? Did I watch too much Harry Potter with my children and somehow the invisible cloak manifested and I'm wearing it right now? Is that what's happening? Help me out here, people.
OK, seriously. All this praise towards dads who aren't doing anything praise-worthy needs to stop. It's unnecessary. It's pointless. It's doing more harm than good. Moms are't being endlessly celebrated for helping with homework, kissing the boo-boos, or doing the other untold and overlooked things it takes to raise kind human beings, so dads shouldn't be praised either. It's part of parenting. Praise us both, or don't praise anyone at all.
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