I wanted to take a moment to share something that happened over the past few weeks. I think it’s very important to hear and hopefully most agree with my stance here. Basically, this is an open letter to my wife (and all moms out there). If you don’t know me, I’m a married father of two boys. We have a toddler and a three-month old. To say our house is crazy is an understatement, but I’m sure I’m not saying anything most families with young kids aren’t experiencing. Anyway, my wife is a SAHM (stay-at-home mom) and I’m self-employed and work from home. My wife didn’t stay at home with our first, but we got the opportunity to do it for our second. She didn’t quit the workforce all together either, she is supplemental and fills in when people are out sick or on vacation. So, she’s still in the system.
A couple of weeks ago, she went back into work for the first time to fill in for someone. This meant I had to get both kids up, get them feed, get one to school, and take care of the other at home. Basically, it was going to be a day off for me, because working with a little baby is almost impossible. The day went alright and my wife has had a few more days where she worked and I watched the kids at home. Just recently, she did a full day and I decided to run to the grocery store for our weekly trip. I did this with my son in an Ergobaby carrier. I’ve used it before, so it was nothing new to me. I put him in there and went on my way. It wasn’t until I got home that I decided to jump on Facebook and write this…
I realized today how much of a massive double-standard there is regarding dads and moms.
When my wife goes to the grocery store with Harrison, it’s just another day. She’s “expected” to be there during a work day.
When I go with Harrison, I get some special treatment. People congratulate me for being a great dad and some super hero for running errands with my child. People help me get things out of my cart, like I don’t have the capacity to do more than one thing at a time (newsflash, I do).
While I know it’s not “normal” to see a father grocery shopping on a weekday during the day, but why can’t it be?
My wife shouldn’t be expected to be toting around the kids running errands. I shouldn’t be congratulated for doing basic tasks with a kid in tow.
My wife and I are equals. When I work, she watches the kids. When she works, I watch them. This is what modern day couples do. Get up to speed America!
We Have a Double Standard
Basically, while I was at the grocery store, I got people congratulating me on doing the grocery shopping with my son attached. I got smiles, waves, and “thank yous” for just doing what any normal mother does day in and day out. These people helped me load my groceries, get them out of my cart, and went out of their way to help me. While I’m not complaining, I was fully capable of doing all of this on my own. My hands and feet both work just fine and I’m capable of multi-tasking pretty well. Probably not as well as my wife (OK, not nearly as well), but I can do at least two things at once!
It wasn’t until I got out of the grocery store and someone drove up next to me while I was putting groceries in my trunk. It was a lady who pulled down her window and said that I was an awesome dad for carrying my son and doing the grocery shopping. I thanked her and continued to put my groceries into the car. It wasn’t until I got my son out of the carrier and put him in his car seat that it hit me.
Why does my wife not get any of this attention? Why did people treat me like I was some super hero dad while my wife does this stuff day in and day out? I always knew we had a double standard between moms and dads, but now I knew it was much bigger than I had hoped. Heck, while we were in San Diego, I would watch people in their reaction to my wife and I. When the baby was with her, it was a normal day. When he was with me in the carrier, people would smile, give me thumbs up, and some would even say great job. What was I doing differently than my wife?
To My Wife and All Moms,
Thank you! Each and every day you juggle so many things that most of us couldn’t imagine trying to do. The best part is most of you do it incredibly well. You should get more praise for your accomplishments and to show that being a mother is much harder than most think.
I’m going to take this time to say I’m sorry for how society acts toward you. It’s expected of the mother to be toting around the child, going to the grocery store, picking up the kids, and whatever else needs to be done. It was evident people were surprised I was out during the day, with my son, and grocery shopping. It probably blew up all social norms for them, so they just felt the need to thank me for being a great dad. Newsflash people, my wife is an excellent mother. Someone I trust, confide in, love, and respect. I don’t EXPECT her to be doing all of the errands and I don’t think we, as a society, should expect that as well. We are an equal team when we parent and in life. She should get more “thank yous” than I ever get.
Fathers are just as responsible for their children as mothers. Unfortunately, we are expected to be working, bringing home a steady paycheck, and probably grunting a bit while we do it. We are expected to be the providers. In our family, I’m a monetary provider, but my wife provides much more. She keeps our home running, our lives balanced, and everything in check. To be honest, without her, I’d probably be lost. We’d be lost.
When I had my son for the first time by myself all day, I was confused at what to do. I know how to feed and change him, but my brain is wired differently. Taking care of a child all day is grueling work. It takes a lot of willpower, patience, and determination to get through the day without ripping your hair out. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had and I used to be a debt collector!
I guess we as a society expect too much of woman and mothers. We expect them to be on top of all things, running errands, taking care of the kids, and making sure their husbands are cared for. I think this is quite archaic. Yet, when they can’t accomplish it all, we look at them as failures.
To be honest, I feel stay-at-home moms (and all moms really) should be paid for what they do. There is no other profession where you’re on call 24/7 all year round. You eat, sleep, and live being a mother. Even if we paid a mom minimum wage, you’d have to pay them for 24 hours each day for a full year. That’s at least $65,000 per year. Not a bad salary if you ask me, but not even enough. You don’t get benefits, overtime, days off, or anything like that. Mothers should be paid at least $100,000 per year to take care of their children. It’s a job that would make most people cry.
After I posted my status on Facebook, I got a number of other fathers saying the same thing happened to them. It’s comical, yet sad that so many think a father is doing a great job when they partake in the everyday normal a mother encounters. Should it be this way? No. We shouldn’t be shocked when a father does things we consider a “mother’s job” or one we feel they are more adequate to handle.
I have the utmost respect for my wife and all she does for our family. I never realized how hard it was watching a baby all day until I had to do it myself. This is why I think we might under appreciate what woman do and how they parent. Let’s be honest, most men probably couldn’t handle a day in the life. Not saying all of us couldn’t handle it, but you can’t beat a woman’s instinct.
So, to my lovely wife and all moms out there, keep doing what you do. I will proudly support and encourage you to be awesome. While society might feel you’re just doing your “job,” I think you are doing much more than that.
To all the fathers out there who take their kids to schools, care for them, and take them grocery shopping, keep doing more of that. Let’s show the world that we are equally responsible for our children, beyond just working and bringing home money. We need to make sure people aren’t thanking us for doing something that should be deemed “normal.” While I thank those who helped me at the grocery store, I reject the premise that I’m any more special or awesome than my wife. In fact, I believe she outshines me in many more ways.