I recently started working on a blog post about how my husband and I split up our responsibilities and decided to delay it a bit to write about this theme for Father’s day. For those of you who are new to my blog, I like to challenge misconceptions about millennial motherhood. You can read one of my early blog posts where I covered a range of common misconceptions here. For this father’s day themed post I wanted to address what I believe is a common misconception about millennial dads (and maybe modern fatherhood in general). And if you’re new to my blog, here’s some background on my family: My husband Nosa and I met in college (almost 10 years ago- where does the time go??) but we got married in 2016 and have three beautiful boys ages 3, 2, and 8 months. Yes, we have our hands full. But our children are also the light of our lives. The past year has been a whirlwind. Three under three was no joke, especially with a colicky baby. Thankfully we are now at a stage where all three boys have a consistent naptime, a consistent bedtime, and sleep through the night. And our youngest Maxwell is crawling, being extremely vocal, and playing (aka fighting over toys) with his brothers already. Nosa always jokes that Maxwell is his favorite; he really completes our family. This period of our lives has been really intense, but we’re constantly learning and growing as a result.
Sometimes well-meaning people ask me how Nosa is doing with a kind of pitying tone, and this always leaves me confused. He’s been sleeping through the night much longer than I have; he’s doing fine. Not that I want to make light of his experience, because being a parent is really hard. He’s had plenty of stress and frustration just like I have. But while I appreciate their concern for him, I think on some level it stems from the fact that many people expect men to be the weaker parent and inherently less capable when it comes to handling everything. I honestly find that a bit problematic and that’s the misconception I want to address. I don’t baby my husband. Am I better at packing a diaper bag, preparing meals, and scheduling appointments? Yes. But he’s better at entertaining the kids, shifting the energy in the room when I’m frustrated, and teaching them new things. We were both co-creators of our family, and my expectations for a 50/50 partner demand that he step up every day just like I do.
I’m not trying to sound sanctimonious about my expectations, but I believe a lot of men are becoming increasingly involved and capable in their children’s lives and we should expect nothing less. And when a family grows at any stage we should assume both partners are equally involved and share similar feelings about that growth unless we’re told otherwise.
That’s how I feel in theory, but how does expecting a 50/50 partner look in practice (especially with me being a stay at home parent)? Well, I’ve had to let go of some things- I’m the kind of person who likes to take on a lot in order to ensure that things are done the way I like them. But that can be exhausting, especially since I’m with the kids 24/7. I’ve learned that his way of doing things usually works too, I just have to give him the opportunity to handle things on his own. This is very important when I need a break, and something I’m still working on.
We’ve also had to make some adjustments to our schedule. Because I’m a stay at home mom, childcare is my job during the day. But mornings, evenings, and weekends are times that we divide responsibilities evenly. We both like to work out in the mornings sometimes, but if it’s his day he knows to be back in time to help me get our boys up and ready. And if it’s my day he’s on childcare duty. He always feeds and takes care of Maxwell while I prepare breakfast for my toddlers. After work he watches them while I take a break if I need it, and while I make dinner. Otherwise we usually parent together outside of work hours until our kids’ bedtime. I prepare the meals because I’m the better chef, but he usually does the dishes, etc etc. Our schedule can be hectic and intense but we reward ourselves with quality time after the kids go to bed. Is our system perfect? Of course not. There’s always room for improvement. But it’s always evolving to meet our needs and expectations. And I always give feedback when I feel like I need more support.
Do you agree that the idea that men are less capable/enthusiastic parents is a common misconception? If you have a partner, how do you divide up responsibilities in your household? Do you embrace or reject traditional gender roles? Let me know your thoughts.