Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gender Equality

    This weekend Jeff was on the phone with his mom and she asked how my work was going. Jeff said something along the lines of "Oh, it's fine. She likes it just about as well as any job" and then went on to say "I mean, I'm sure if I got an awesome paying job tomorrow she'd quit and stay home with the kids, but she likes what she does, she just doesn't necessarily like her boss." All of which is true. I left my job when Makayla was 8 months old because Jeff was making amazing money while deployed in the middle east and we didn't need my salary. It was great for the most part. I didn't have to miss any of those moments that pass so quickly in child-rearing. But Jeff did. He was halfway around the world in a trailer in a war zone.

    When Makayla was three, Jeff came home for good. I went back to work and Jeff started school and essentially became a stay at home dad. When Liam was born 6 months ago Jeff realized how much he missed with Makayla and it made him sad. His conversation with his mom got me thinking. If I got a really amazing job that paid all the bills and made any salary of his superfluous wouldn't he quit his job and stay home too? So I asked him that and he said, yeah he probably would but he wouldn't quit school because we both think it sets a good example for the kids to achieve your goals, etc. Jeff and I take a 50/50 team approach to parenting and household responsibilities in general. We compliment each others strengths and weaknesses very well and we are always striving to make things easier for the other in any way we can.

    Last night, I asked Jeff to mail a small package for me that needed to be postmarked today and I couldn't mail because I had a dentist appointment right after work. When he went to the post office today, some ignorant man saw him with Liam and said "UH-OH! Good luck little buddy! Looks like it's Dad's day to babysit!" Which pissed Jeff off so he replied "No man, I'm just trying to not be a shit-bag father like your generation was full of". Ignorant Fuck didn't know what to say to that so he just turned away mumbling something about it being a new world so Jeff followed up with "Yeah, times sure have changed.  Right now my wife is at work and I am trying to mail something for her because she doesn't have the time." If it had been me, I wouldn't have had the balls to say what Jeff did. I would have just sat there stewing about it. It's offensive as fuck! He's their Dad! He's not a babysitter! I don't pay him 10 bucks an hour to watch the kids so he can save up to buy some new video games to play in his man cave while he ignores the family. You wouldn't ask the female mechanic who changes your oil if she's just pretending to be a mechanic today or just automatically assume that the male nurse is actually a doctor so don't ask men if they're babysitting their own children!

     I like to think that most parents want to set a good example for their kids. By pretending that men are not capable caregivers to their children, we tell our sons that when they grow up, they needn't try to be an equal partner and we tell our daughters that they needn't expect it. Stand up and fix it. We are all equals.