I am now on day seven of the twenty days that daddy-o and the two big kids are in far off lands visiting my in-laws.
Over the last week I have repeatedly heard “how are you enjoying the break?” and “does it feel like a holiday?” Truth is, it kind of does. I have four fewer sporting events to get to each week, less bickering to mediate and the laundry demands are quite sensible. However, I still have three kids at home who are aged one, three and five. It can hardly be considered a ‘break’ or holiday destination of any kind….not much sitting on the beach or cocktail hour happening around here.
Now, we all get that motherhood is a thankless job and all that, but I’ve come to realize that a strange transformation happens when daddy-o takes over some of the parenting and family duties that mama usually handles. Instantly that parenting role is worthy of praise and suddenly folks start offering up a bit of support to the primary caregiver.
Whenever I am away on business, the troops rally around daddy-o. Children get invited for sleep-overs and play-dates, and dinner invitations come pouring in. I can guarantee that if roles were reversed and it was daddy-o home with three small children for 20 days, it would end with a ticker-tape parade through the centre of town in his honour. I would have people swarming me telling me how “lucky” I am that he is such a good father.
What do I get for my 20 days with three small children? I’m not really sure but it would be great if those troops arrived sometime soon.
A similar example is observed every August at the Mabel office. There is one Mabel mama who usually ends up putting in 16 hours days for several consecutive weeks. Her husband is a teacher so manages all things kid and household during that hectic summer season. We always marvel at the outrageous number of comments floating around about how amazing he is. I’m quite sure by the end of this summer he will be inducted into some fatherhood hall of fame. But why is he a Saint for doing for a few weeks what countless women do ALL the time?
So the double standard is clear:
- Daddy-o does the job and he gets assistance and accolades
- Mama does the job and no one really cares or notices
Whatever the reasons and answers, all I can say is that it’s a darn good thing we’re not in the business of being mamas for the glory. I’d guess it’s the great pay, hours, holidays and benefit packages that attract most of us to it.