I need to get something off my chest: It would be nice to live in a world where men took care of their children and it wasn’t considered exceptional.
I get it. Our society is still finding its way into gender equality. We are still fighting for equal rights for women. Traditionally, men were the breadwinners and women the caretakers. So this is a "new" thing for some of us, but as a society, we should be farther along than we are.
During prime working hours, my husband and I split the parenting duties as if we’re on our own. On the weekdays, it’s one parent on six.
I take the morning shift: cooking breakfast, fixing lunches, making sure kids brush their teeth and dress in appropriate clothing and get their shoes, walking them all to school, walking the three who aren’t in school back home, keeping twins out of mud and toilets, entertaining the baby, reading them stories, putting them all down for naps.
My husband takes over at 12:30 p.m., while they’re sleeping. When they wake, he wrestles with them and sends them outside to play and invites their friends over so there are 12 or 13 kids in the house (my anxiety just went through the roof) and makes the older kids do their homework. He knows where all the kids’ school papers go and he signs all their reading logs and he marks their behavior folders and he makes sure their lunch stuff gets put in the sink and washed for tomorrow. He feeds the baby and changes diapers and makes sure they clean up their toys before dinner so the house is somewhat tidy by the time the day is through and then he cooks dinner.
I appreciate all he does, but it is not exceptional. It's parenting.
People are shocked. “Must be nice to have a husband who helps like that,” they say.
But I wasn’t the only one who decided to have six kids. I was not the only participant either. Of course he helps so I can work too. My husband understands that I am a better mother because of my work.
When he’s watching the kids so I can hole up in my room and write a handful of essays, it’s not babysitting. When I go out once a month with my book club friends to talk about a book for all of five minutes and then talk about our lives for another three hours, and he’s with the kids, that’s not babysitting. When he decides to bake some chicken in the oven or organize some out of control papers or take the baby for a few hours while I get a little extra sleep, he’s not just "helping." He’s parenting.
I’m glad we could set that straight.
This story first appeared on Mother.ly and is reprinted here with permission.