When I entered my second trimester with my second kid, I suddenly became very angry. It probably had to do with exhaustion from chasing a toddler around while growing another kid, but I was very cranky for the remainder of my pregnancy. I found fault with things that wouldn’t have bothered me normally, and I probably misdirected some of that rage, unfairly, toward my husband. Whatever, though. Logic be damned, I say. I was growing a human, people, so sorry not sorry, but there are things dads should absolutely be blamed for. My "poor" husband should be able to handle being on the receiving end of my annoyance while I grow miniature arms and legs inside my body.
A generation ago, moms like mine could have blamed dads like mine for not taking on a lot of the caregiving duties. More dads are staying home with their kids these days, though, and even though my husband and I both work, we try hard to divide and conquer. While we don’t do the same things (I was the one who breastfed and schedules the pediatrician appointments, while he assembles baby furniture and is all about the dentist check-ups), there isn’t a huge difference in the amount of effort we put in taking care of our children. While I do shoulder the more mentally draining tasks (like, for example, anything having to do with school), I know I can always enlist my husband’s help if I’m tapped out.
Still, that doesn’t mean I’m not highly critical of how he parents. I’m trying not to be, but I’m a work-in-progress, just like all moms. And, of course, my husband is a work-in-progress, too. I have to remind myself of that, and often. So on top of some truly messed up things — like putting on diapers backwards, or letting my 7-year-old daughter out of the house with just tights on because he thought they were leggings — my kids’ dad should absolutely be blamed for the the following things. This is part of the parenting contract, people. I don't make the rules.
Getting Us Knocked Up
They did this. They made us this way. They made us think we had an undeniable maternal instinct. They fed us that “you’ll be a great mom” line half-way through a bottle of pinot noir, and made us believe in ourselves even though becoming a parent was the scariest step I ever took in my adult life (next to buying an apartment in New York City, which is truly a death-defying act).
Telling Us We Are Beautiful When We Are 10 Months Pregnant
I got a real false sense of security from my husband, who had nothing but lovely things to say about my appearance past my 40th week of pregnancy. He must have been under some kind of spell, transfixed by the power of the uterus to grow a person, that he mistakenly transferred his awe from my reproductive organs to my shape. I lapped the compliments up, intoxicated by the idea that this body I was now living in was attractive to someone. Then I remembered that taking marriage vows meant he was pretty much obligated to love me no matter how much help I needed to get off the couch.
Making Us Believe We Can Birth A Child
All the positive attitude, encouraging words, and the holding of my leg when I was in labor was misleading. As much as my partner told me I could do it, I couldn’t. Childbirth is the worst. It is uncomfortable, and then painful, and then it makes you feel like you’re not in control of your body, and then you realize that he is only saying all these nice, empowering things because I have no choice but to get this child out of my body. The result was inevitable, but he put on a great show making me think I could just will our baby down the birth canal.
Staging Ridiculous Family Photos
There are way too many pictures of our newborn daughter perched on her father’s head, or propped up with a video game controller in her tiny lap. My husband took our kids’ immobility as a reason to stage silly pictures that will embarrass our kids when they are older. Sure, I guess I'm grateful for them. I mean, those images show how fun parenting can be. But still, they're such a "dad move," right?
(OK, seriously those pictures are adorable and I wish I had snapped more of them when I had the chance.)
Taking On A Ton Of Housework
Because he sees us as equals when it comes to domestic responsibilities, husband doesn’t give me much reason to complain. And that’s annoying. I need something to whine about occasionally. So while he’s cooking, I make sure to give him grief about not opening a window to clear the smoke that never fails to fill the kitchen because he thinks “high heat” yields the tastiest stove-top burgers.
Teaching The Kids To Use Knives
My partner loves to cook, and my kids love to cook with him. He taught them how to slice and chop and I am now scared out of my mind every time my kid wields a paring knife to “help” me with dinner.
Spilling A 1,000-Piece Puzzle Out On The Dining Room Table
OK, fine, this is a great pastime for keeping the kids occupied on a rainy weekend morning. I won’t deny that. It’s so messy, though, and it just bristles with my Type A side that can’t stand clutter. Knowing that puzzle will be spread out across the table for a while until they can connect all the pieces is hard for moms like me, whose favorite part of my kids’ playdates are clean-up time.
Showing The Kids How To Make Armpit Fart Noises
I’m just bitter because I can’t do anything with my body my kids thinks is cool. My husband has the gross sound tutorials on lock.
Being So Fun All The Time
In addition to owning the “Making Bodily Function Noises with Your Body” category in parenting lessons, my kids’ dad is just fun for them to be around. His M.O. is to have fun, whereas mine is usually to not spill anything. I don’t believe the ability to find the fun in life is coded in gender, but in our family, my husband is just more naturally inclined to turn things into games. I see chores as tasks that have to be completed to that you can have fun afterward, whereas he regards them as opportunities to play. I don’t think this practice works for everything (sometimes social studies homework is just social studies homework), but watching my husband cheerily take on mundane tasks like grocery shopping and turn them into adventures with our kids has helped my perspective. Things don’t have to be a drag if we don’t want them to be. So while it stings a little bit that dad is the “fun” one and I’m the “serious” one, I’m glad my kids have an adult in their lives who is teaching them how to embrace life’s challenges with a sense of humor.
So, yes. I can admit that dads aren't that bad, especially when they're engaged in pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting in general. You're OK, dads. Just don't make those damn armpit fart noises when we're pregnant and bending over, OK?