Once, I attended a baby shower on a Saturday afternoon. The next day the grateful mother-to-be thanked my husband for looking after our children while I attended the event. I found her words interesting.
Now, I believe in saying thank you, and I’m all for not taking people for granted. And just so you know, my husband and I make a point of expressing gratitude whenever one of us holds the fort at home while the other one of us is out. However, in all my years of being a mother, nobody (other than my husband) has ever thanked me for taking care of my own offspring. I don’t crave accolades. I’m just giving voice to my musings on the archaic notion that attending to the children is “the woman’s job”, and thus when a man spends time alone with his children he is somehow doing something extraordinary.
Perhaps I can attribute my take on this matter to my own childhood. When I was growing up, my mother never hesitated to leave my siblings and me with my father while she was out. I guess she figured that if my Dad could simultaneously run two companies and successfully coordinate a team of hardheaded employees, then surely four lively children were no match for him. And sure enough, my Dad always rose to the occasion.
He would pick groceries up on his way home from work, he’d do our hair and send us out into the world looking presentable, and he’d make us sandwiches for our packed lunch. There was no cheerleading squad applauding his every move. He just got on and did what needed to be done, because that is what parents do.
Fast forward a few years, and my husband and I find ourselves in the same predicament that my parents were in— thousands of miles away from our extended family, and parenting as a team. Just like my Dad all those years ago, my husband continually demonstrates that working a full-time job does not mean one cannot be a hands-on father.
When my husband baths our children, takes them to the playground or puts them to bed at night, I am extremely grateful, but I am not in awe. While I appreciate the fact that he has been at work all day, I am also conscious that my children are his children too. And if they are his children too, then when he attends to their practical needs he is not performing some marvelous feat, he is simply doing what parenthood requires of him.
Photo: Pamela Djima