So yeah, to all my legions of loyal followers out there in the blogosphere, I apologize for abandoning you. In my defense, I did have a baby almost 10 months ago now (well, my wife had a baby…I hate when men try to take credit for these things, and don’t even get me started on people who say “we’re pregnant”), so I have been busy. Well, maybe busy isn’t the most accurate descriptor, let’s go with occupied. I think all you parents out there will get where I’m coming from on that one. Nothing makes you feel simultaneously extremely busy and completely idle and non-productive as taking care of a young child. Never in my life have I watched so much mind-numbingly pointless television to pass the time during feedings, play time, naps, etc. Let’s just say, if you need advice on redecorating your house or the latest update on what your favorite Kardashian has been up to, I’m your man.
After my wife’s maternity leave was up, I took over the child care duties so she could go back to work. Guess that makes me one of those (supposedly) increasingly more common stay-at-home Dads (I prefer house husband, but that’s just me), although I’ve yet to come across another one personally. To be fair, I try not to leave the house or interact with other people when I can avoid it, so my sampling method might be a bit flawed. Why did I make this highly magnanimous sacrifice (not really)? Because I can “work from home” (aka I’m unemployed) and I was willing to put my career on hold for the good of my family (aka my wife can make more bank than I can). Anyway, getting to spend so much time with my wonderful, beautiful baby boy, filling a traditionally female-dominated role, has taught me some things that might be of interest to men and women alike. I present them here in numerical list form for no particular reason, because that’s how I roll.
- This one’s for all the “working” men from the beginning of time who have dumped all the childcare responsibilities on their wives/partners. You stink. Especially those of you who have wives that work outside the home as well and yet still do most or all of the child care. I don’t care how much money you make/made and how you are the bread winner and how manly you are in fulfilling your very manly duties. You have no idea what unassisted child rearing does to a person. I mean, I split the duties pretty much evenly with my wife and I still find myself going nearly insane sometimes. Ahem, I mean, insane with wonderfulness and joy of course…because having children is nothing but happiness and sunshine (whew, I think I covered that well).
- Gender roles really are fascinating when you think about it. I mean, I find it pretty awesome that I often get heaped with praise for not completely ignoring my child. This has happened on numerous occasions in the past 10 months. I particularly enjoy it when my wife is present and the praise heaper usually adds a comment aimed at her that goes something like, “You’re so lucky!” Presumably because she didn’t marry a Neanderthal? I’m not sure if men have just been playing the longest expectations game in history (i.e., setting the bar progressively lower with selfish neglect of familial duties) or are just complete jerks. Probably the latter…we’re not that smart. Not to mention, we’ve even managed, through our historical control of all of our society’s key institutions (don’t knock it women, that’s what you get for lazing around with the kids all these centuries), to ingrain this expectation gap in official records and policy. For example, the Census Bureau counts father-provided parenting as child care (i.e., babysitting), but mother-provided parenting as, well, parenting. The only possible conclusion one can draw from these fun little instances of misogyny that pervade our society…being a guy is awesome!
- You know one thing that is awesome about taking care of an infant (disclaimer: I remain completely clueless about the different monikers for young children and the differences between them – baby, infant, etc – so forgive me if I use them incorrectly or interchangeably)? The satisfaction one gets from getting your child to take a nap. For example, Jacob (my baby) fights sleep like Chris Brown and Drake in a nightclub. If he doesn’t fall asleep while drinking his bottle, you’re basically out of luck (I have to point this out, did anyone notice I used “bottle” in a completely different context in the sentence after referencing Chris Brown and Drake…I kill myself sometimes). Try to rock him, he throws himself back and screams; try to lay him down in his crib, he screams; try to lie down with him in the bed, he makes a Kamikaze-style headlong dive off the edge of the bed. So when/if you do get him to sleep after all that, the only thing to do is snap a picture (see above), text it to your wife with the caption “I win!!” and crank up some Zombie Nation and jump around a bit in celebration (note: make sure to leave the room before cranking up the Zombie Nation...speaking from experience here).
- Hands down best thing about being a parent though, you can win any argument about anything (and I mean anything…don’t try to limit yourself to things that are actually related to having children) against anyone without children by giving a condescending snort and saying, “You obviously don’t have kids.” Boom, game over. I noticed this before I had a kid and it always annoyed me…not anymore. My time has come.
- Ever find yourself making sound effects to go along with every day activities, like getting dressed, closing a door, or putting something down on the table, even when no one is around? Ahem, me either (darting eyes side to side).
- Ever find yourself talking to or smiling at your dog in way that suggests you are anticipating some kind of verbal and/or facial expression response? Pshhh…no, I certainly don’t ever confuse my dog for my kid (eyelid twitching).
- Know what I really like to do while the baby is sleeping? Nothing.
- Do you disagree with or don’t understand anything I said in this post? You obviously don’t have kids.