Actually, it turns out, I was a wonderful dad.
I’d pat myself on the back further, but am too old for the post congratulatory shoulder surgery such backslapping would require. That half-assed remark and the following cogent commentary is my response to the following article from the New York Times: What “Good” Dads Get Away With.
Turns out I’m still an anomaly. How sad is that? The more things change…
Part of the lamentably continuous argument, is what men in general get away with; one need not be a father to be less than a full participating partner, but the lack of sharing the load becomes more glaring as hungry little mouths begin cluttering up the house. It need not be this way, but we allow ourselves to be co-opted and then find it’s not so bad until our better halves stick us in the ribs and demand, “What gives?”
Which is my question.
Here is my humble story:
I fell into domesticity due to the untimely divorce of my parents back in the early 70’s. Money was tight, mom had to work, so it was up to me and my sister, Ann, to keep the house clean and watch our little sisters. Through this I learned that laundry was not the end of the world as far as chores were concerned. Neither was vacuuming, etc.
This was then built upon later by the US Navy. In the Navy, as they told us, your momma ain’t here to wipe your ass, which was a genteel way of saying we had to step it up and do our manly chores, which included keeping ourselves and our environs up to naval specs. It played spectacularly well into my need for order. And, because there were so few women around, and it wasn’t their job to take care of us anyway, we men had to take care of all things ourselves.
This, in turn, was followed by who I then married. She had no problem letting me do things my way, and as I was already accustomed to the vicissitudes of housework, I saw no difference between being, and not being, married. I cared more about how my undies were folded than she did, and she didn’t mind my applying the same exacting standards to hers.
When the kids came, as it always does, our patterns were expanded to include them. It might be at this point that I say that settling who is responsible for what early goes a long way in the long run. This is very helpful when we become parents.
As a father, I considered myself to be fairly typical: don’t say too much, don’t say too little. I think it worked out.
Some of the complaints noted in the article are long standing. Yard work rarely equates to house work unless you are an obsessive, and if you are, the yard better look fantastic, and that still isn’t enough. If you both work, and she’s still doing the lion’s share at home, she’s got a right to be pissed.
It ain’t that hard and I will say from personal experience that it’s worth it for no other reason that it drastically improves your love life.
Some things, however, to me, seem self-inflicted and are not a product of the dudes not pulling their fair share. Perhaps like many men, I saw no reason for my kids to be constantly in motion and tied to a schedule that wore all of us out. My wife and I had many a disagreement over it. We ended up compromising. Also, and I realize some may find this shocking, I didn’t care what the other parents were doing, or what the magazines said, or what nonsense was being bloviated on TV. I only had 2 goals for the boys: be decent and be educated. In this day and age, that’s plenty.
Now this is not to imply that I did not make mistakes or have my failing, I had plenty. Many I find embarrassing to this day. But, if nothing else, it can’t said that I didn’t do my fair share around the house.
And if I can do it, anyone can.
©2019 David William Pearce