So I conned my husband into going to a marriage seminar. At our church. He wasn’t drugged or bound and gagged. It truly was a miracle. The good news is it did bring us closer together as I swear I’ve never felt such love for him as when he offered to go to the bathroom and pull the fire alarm. The other bit of news is that I only snorted with contempt only once audibly. It happened when the speaker said we wives needed to be sure to remember to praise our husbands for their commitments to provide for the family. In an auditorium of a few thousand couples I can’t believe I was the only snort. This week Bloomberg published an article entitled “The Perfect Husband.” The article is a somewhat fair and balanced look at the growing trend of stay at home dads, particularly when they are married to powerful female executives. It wasn’t the article necessarily that disturbed me. However, the accompanying photos were really creepy. There were a number of staged family shots where the moms were posed like modern day Don Drapers while their seemingly submissive house husbands were posed like Stepford wives. I think I actually threw up in my mouth a little. The point being missed is that traditional roles exist less and less. I don’t want a submissive mealy-mouthed man at home taking care of my babies. At the same time I don’t want to feel insulted when sitting in a marriage seminar because my husband isn’t being told he should be patting me on the back for the efforts I make in the workplace for our family. I want a partner and I want to be a partner. The lines between traditional mother-father are being blurred to the point where we need to stop feminizing men who are caretakers and butching up women who are career oriented. If I wanted a housewife I’d be a lesbian and marry a woman. I love that my husband is a man with a garage full of power tools who is anything but feminine. But I also love that he can make the kids lunches, bath them, and cuddle with them just as easily as I can. So join me me in refusing to buy into these out-dated gender based-roles. We are partners who do not need to be boxed in by labels created to describe and define a time long past. Let’s create our own definitions of what it means to be a mom and a dad in today’s society who work and raise a family.
I’ve always thought of myself as feminist. I consider myself a strong, independent woman. So I’m not quite sure what possessed me to say to my son in response to his request for help with his video game that: “girls don’t play video games. You’ll have to wait until your father gets home for help.” I’m sure it was out of pure exhaustion but it was not one of my finer moments, so sorry Gloria Steinem. My neighbor just told me that she had a knock down drag out battle of wills with her son about his lack of physical activity. It ended with her threatening to put on a bikini and prance around the house until he agreed to engage in some kind of vaguely athletic activity at school. This is enough to terrify any thirteen year old boy into submission. One of my all time favorite is my friend who used to tell her sons when they were being rambunctious that they would grow monkey hair because they were acting like monkeys. This worked well until they actually started to grow hair on their arms, legs, etc. and they started to believe that they were actually turning into monkeys. Bottom line is that we all have said things to our children that might not be “appropriate,” “healthy,” or “politically correct” but we can’t beat ourselves up about them. Because let’s face it, these are the children who can’t remember to brush their teeth on a regular basis, do we really think they are committing every word we say to memory? And even if they are these things are funny! So let’s learn to laugh at ourselves a little bit instead of beating ourselves up for not always parenting perfectly. Just remember the next time you say something you regret remind yourself that your child will not in fact develop low self esteem or join Al Qaeda. Instead giggle a little – you’ll feel better!