People make all kinds of assumptions about moms. From our marital status, to how we conceived, to how we gave birth, strangers are quick to jump to conclusions. Some of the less intrusive, but still-kind-of-annoying, assumptions I've experienced are the comments people make about how I care for my kids. When it comes to parenting my children, people seem to think my kids' dad is either incapable or absent. So, honestly, I'm tired of the sexist questions I've had to answer about my husband's parenting, especially from assuming strangers who still think mothers are the only parents capable of oh, I don't know, dressing their children.
When my partner and I talked about having kids, we talked about how I would be in charge of a lot of the day-to-day household stuff and managing the kids' schedules, because my work schedule is more flexible than his. But that did not preclude him from being an active and engaged co-parent. My partner has always been the family cook, the first one to wake up in the morning, the guy who does the early morning dog walks, and has always been better with babies than I was. So I had a good sense of how life might be once we had kids. Since we became parents together he's been a fantastic co-parent in all of the ways I had hoped.
But strangers don't know this. Strangers see a tired mom pushing a stroller during the day with two cranky kids, or a mom who is pleading with her 5-year-old to hold the door open so she can push the giant stroller through the narrow doorway to the coffee shop to escape a downpour. They don't see the dad, so they assume a lot about me in those moments. Yes, I'm working my ass off when I'm with my kids, but their dad puts in his work too. And we both cherish our alone time with them and carve out moments to just enjoy our kids' company. Which is why I find it a huge drag to have to explain, again and again, how my kids' dad is the one who is on top of this or that, especially when I'm asked the following questions:
"How Do Your Prepare Your Meals For Your Entire Family?"
One of the most frequently asked questions I get as a mom is how I manage to feed my "hungry guys." What I want to say to these people is, "Have you met a child under 6?" Maybe it is just my kids, but my 3-year-old and 5-year-old don't eat so much as they graze on snacks with the occasional ice cream thrown in if they're really hungry. Feeding them is relatively easy.
But just in case they do get the hankering for real food, their dad prepares several options for them on Sundays and so I can keep them in the refrigerator to pull out during the week. He'll make anything from some black beans, seasoned the only way that my kids will eat them, to a roast chicken. To this day I have never roasted a chicken in my life, and I have no idea what his black bean recipe consists of.
"What Does Your Husband Do While You Get Your Kids Ready In The Morning?"
I have a vague idea of what is going on in the part of the house outside of my bedroom in the morning, and I think it has something to do with cereal and an iPad. All I know is that my husband brings me a hot cup of coffee somewhere between my application of sunscreen and mascara, after I've had my shower. He is in charge of our kids' morning routine from wakeup through breakfast, and he starts making their lunch, too. I take over after I'm sufficiently dressed. I really don't know what they eat for breakfast in the morning, or what shows they watch. It could be a bowl of chocolate chips and Japanese anime. Who knows? Not me, and I'm fine with that.
"I'll See You At School Drop Off, Right?"
Hey, I would love to, but that would require me actually being at school drop off. Instead, most mornings you'll find my husband in his full work attire (suit, briefcase), pushing our huge stroller with both kids on it up a nearly 90-degree hill at record speed to get to school on time. Since he works really late most nights and misses bed time, the morning routine and the drop off days are really important to him and our kids. I love that they get to have that special time together.
"So Do You Cut Your Kids' Hair, Or Do You Pay A Professional?"
We're not sure how it happened, but both of my kids actually love getting their hair cut. If only they shared the same passion for when I cut their toe nails!
It has become a dad-and-son bonding ritual in which all three go together, and make a half's day activity out of it. Haircut days are special, and the boys get a kick out of the fact that they exclude me because I don't get my haircut at the same time they do (theirs grows out much faster).
"Does Your Husband Dress Your Kids, Too?"
No, my husband just lets our kids run around naked.
My kids' dad has a real passion for sneakers and well, shoes in general, and he is trying earnestly to spread that passion to his boys. When it is time for new shoes, he'll take the boys to pick up a cool pair of Nikes or he'll get final approval of whatever I'm ordering for them online. We try to get matching sneakers for him and the boys whenever possible, because there are few things cuter than tiny shoes lined up next to huge Man Shoes.
"At Least Your Husband Doesn't Have To Grocery Shop, Right?"
Sure, I'll pick up a box of Annie's Mac and some frozen peas during the week, but the major food haul is all done by my kids' dad. Since he is the chef of the family he knows what specific ingredients he is missing from the pantry, what kind of meat to buy, how to tell if something is ripe, and other basic life skills I somehow missed out on and honestly do not care to know.
"How Do You Handle Getting Up At Night All By Yourself?"
I feel like I've earned this after being up all night for the first year of each of my children's lives (to breastfeed them), but now my kids' dad answers all the night time requests. I am so tired I don't even hear what goes on at night, so in the morning he fills me in on who requested the new sippy cup, who saw a witch in their room, and who hated the blanket they went to bed with.
I don't know why people I assume I'm the one who is always awake. We do live in 2017. Men do all kinds of amazing things they never did before for their kids and that used to just be "women's work." Like, you know, fill their kid's cup with water.