It’s no secret that when it comes to domestic aptitude, men, and especially dads, are stubbornly portrayed as absolute incompetents, blunt objects and buffoons even. Collectively lacking even a shard of around-the-house competence, we menfolk are thought to be inept at everything from cooking, washing-cloths and ironing, to dressing ourselves or even devotedly attending to the needs of our own children. Images abound on the TV and the big screen of husbands and fathers burning, shrinking, breaking, misinforming and ultimately not correctly executing the most basic of household or childrearing tasks.
Yes it’s true; women generally do perform much of the heavy lifting where kids and the home are concerned. And sure, sometimes we fellas do under achieve where building, fixing and hanging are required (just exactly how many trips to Home Depot do you expect us to make on our “day off”?). Agreed, sometimes we do forget to separate the colors from the whites (on this we hardly care, one large load is more efficient than two small ones, besides, no one sees the resulting tighty-pinkie underwear anyway.). Fair enough, we have been known to sporadically forget to pick-up the kidos from school or the bus-stop (We’ve repeatedly asked you to write notes where schedule changes are concerned.).
Still, these minor shortcomings do not rise to the level of chronic male-pattern ineptness so often thought to exist in the caves of millions of men across the country. Nor does our acknowledgment of these petty, practically endearing slipups, lessen the contributions we dads and husbands make, on a daily basis, in our own abodes. No, we provide much more value than society gives us credit.
Case in point: Recently my wife was duty-bound to take leave of her post as CHH (Chief Head of Household) and bottle washer for seven days (and nights) to attend to some urgent family business out of town, way out of town, leaving me in charge of all things domestic and little girl. This is not a problem I thought, I’m a modern man. I can do this. “Go” I say. “I’ve got this covered.”
There was no shortage of offers to help. Once friends learned we’d be down a (wo)man for an entire week, offers of assistance, especially help with our daughters, sprang forth like Pumpkin Spice Lattes on an October morning. Excellent offers all, coming from mom-like surrogates, and worth consideration indeed, however, I felt I owed it to all my fellow dads-in-arms to ask not for help, but to instead redeem our collectively battered images. “I can do this on my own.” I say. “I’ve got this covered.”
All in all a fine week—no major problems. Lunches were packed, homework was completed, doctors’ appointments were kept, cloths were washed, meals were cooked, and dishes were washed. Was there crying? Yes—mostly theirs. Though there’s always crying. They’re girls and crying is their job, no fascination. However, the house didn’t burn down nor was anyone hospitalized. Nothing broken and the police were never summoned. That said, they nearly drove me around the bend with all their bickering—though this is nothing new either.
Although the requests to call and Skype their mother came sooner than expected—minutes rather than days after her departure. “You can’t call Mom because she’s still on the airplane.” I say. “I’ll help you find some shoes to go with that outfit.” Continuing, I offered even more unwanted assistance, “Also, I know how to braid hair too!”
Looking on skeptically, both girls periodically glared at each other in a kind of shared misery during my assertions of vast hair braiding experience. “Seriously” I say, “I really do know how to braid!” So too did they appear annoyed all through my pitch about having possessed a rich history of matching shoes with outfits—you just can’t look this hip by accident I tell them. To which they responded with matching eye rolls—these kids today are so irreverent.
Sorry to say, husbands and fathers alike have variously been accused of enjoying little creditability in these most important of female disciplines, clothes and hair, and thus are often treated with an indifference usually reserved for, well, morons.
Reflecting back, all that together time with my daughters was nice, but it made me realize several things: a.) My ten year old asks way too many bizarre questions starting with the same four words “What would happen if” b.) The job of stay-at-home mom is a study in perpetual motion—they’re no breaks, it’s exhausting, and there are no days off, apparently. c.) My regular job is not so bad after all. At least I have days off. That is, when I’m not building, fixing or hanging in the cave. d.) For all they do, we owe our wives a colossal serving of gratitude.