Thursday, June 3, 2010

Honey, You Aren't A Rock Star

No, my DH isn't having a mid-life crisis. He's still his dorky, lovable self. (If you're into the dorky thing, that is. Good news is that I am.) No bimbos or sports cars in his future.

Nope. He's great, as far as it goes. He changes diapers, he plays with the Bug. He's a good dad.

But. Since I'm on a year's leave from school/work and he's the breadwinner*, I stay home all day with the Bug, and he leaves and goes to work. When he comes home, he sometimes "cooks" (in quotations, because he just buys frozen stuff at Costco, applies heat and calls that dinner. I'd complain more, but nursing has left me so hungry that I happily eat almost anything.) and changes a few diapers in between doing the raid-of-the-week in the World of Warcraft. He does the same thing on the weekend.

For this, I am fairly certain he thinks that our fair city should throw him a parade. I hate to burst his bubble, but he ain't a rock star. (Trust me, I'm a popular music scholar, I know the signs of rock starness. First hint: rock stars don't wear golf shirts to work. Ever.) When I tell people about his help, they act like they want to march in his parade.

If we are any sort of feminists at all, which I for one am, we have to stop rewarding men for doing minimal housework and childcare. We have to recognize that while outside jobs have a defined start and end time, parenting is 24-7. If one chooses to stay at home with a child, that is awesome, but they deserve some R&R, and their partner who is employed outside the home should be responsible for some household stuff. Not as a favour, or a way he is awesome, but just as a mater of course. After all, we talk all the time about "working mothers**" but one almost never hears the expression "working father," because it is just assumed that Dad is in the workforce. I've slowed down my career path for a year for this, sweetie. You can deal with a bit of poop and give up raid tanking.

So don't tell me how great you are for walking the dog or screwing up a load of laundry. (Hint: the expensive running clothes never go in the dryer. Ever. They haven't at any point in the 8 years we've been married.) You're a big help. But since you're an adult, you don't get a gold star. You don't get a parade. You just get a quiet thanks and the satisfaction of a job well done.

*I actually hate the expression "breadwinner." It sounds like rather than sitting in a cubicle making RSS feeds and databases work while also drinking coffee and going out to lunch, he is in some sort of gladiatorial contest for marble rye.

**I also hate the expression "working mother," as though stay at home moms don't work. The SAHM game is hard, and not just because of the hours. Parenting, cooking, cleaning, it is all a lot of work. It also seems like a lot of pressure, as the primary responsibility for my child's wellbeing and happiness is on my shoulders. This is why, frankly, I don't aspire to being a SAHM permanently. Too much pressure. I want to work (and use day care and/or a nanny) to help enlist the whole village, as it were, to help the Bug grow into a well rounded adult.