A while back, my husband took both of our children to the store with him because I was cleaning like a mad woman to get the house ready for guests and working diligently to meet business deadlines.
On this trip to the store, a man saw my husband in the checkout line and made a comment that was something like, “You’re one helluva father to take both kids and grocery shop.”
Now, to many of you, this may mean nothing–and maybe it was nothing–but it rubbed me the wrong way. For weeks, I debated on whether or not I should write about it and have obviously come to the conclusion that it’s important I do. Because even if this particular instance wasn’t a backhanded compliment and insult towards the mother and wife on the other end of this man’s words, there have been plenty that are.
Let me preface any further argument with this: My husband is an outstanding person and father. He works hard but he devotes just as much time at home and even more time into our children’s lives. In my mind, he is the unwavering picture of a good man, and that’s why I chose to marry him.
I firmly believe that devoting equal time and effort as parents and as professionals should be the norm whether you’re a man, woman, mother or father. I also believe that if a parent wants to devote their entirety to working as a stay-at-home parent, that should be accepted as well and whether they’re a father or mother shouldn’t matter.
That being said, I don’t think any father deserves a pat a on the back for taking his children to the store. The majority of mothers take one, two, three, six, eight+ children to the store every week–and to school and to that dance recital and Billy’s basketball game yesterday and so on. Yet I don’t recall anyone ever calling me one ‘helluva’ mother for doing that because that’s what’s expected as a woman and mother.
For so long in our society, the norm was that men worked to provide for the family and women had children and stayed home to take care of them. It’s an ideal ingrained in several generations and it’s been a struggle to turn the corner. But, people, it’s time.
Today, women fight to have an equal salary while working twice as hard to get there, and we’re not there yet. Women hold only 4.8% of the CEO positions at large, multi-million-dollar companies, meaning men hold the other 95.2%.
On the other hand, only 3.5% of men are stay-at-home dads.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a woman who takes her children to the store and keeps up the home, but there’s absolutely no reason that a man can’t do the same. Men are not at a disadvantage as parents just like women should not be any less capable as CEOs.
There’s a reason that when a woman obtains a powerful career or position, the first question people want to ask is in reference to her motherhood–“How do you balance being a mother and having a career?” or “Do you regret not having any children?”–but as a father, the questions in reference to parenting are few and far between.
There’s also a reason that when my husband took our two children to the store, a stranger was proud to let him know how spectacular he is for doing something 96.5% of women do day in and day out. I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds more offensive than it does complimentary.
It will continue to take people like my husband who work full time yet STILL come home to be a father to ingrain a societal norm. It will continue to take women who strive to climb the career ladder while STILL being a mother every single day. It will take men who like to cook dinner and women who don’t mind fixing cars. It will take a society who is willing to open their eyes to equality much like we, as humans and as a country, have had to do repeatedly throughout history. It will take time, it will take effort, it will take more blog posts…
…but to the man who thinks my husband is one ‘helluva’ father, you’re right, but it’s not because his wife didn’t take our two children to the store that day. It’s because that’s what a real father does: he parents, just like mothers.