Sure, for a couple workdays I was able to call in reinforcements (my mom and mother-in-law), but an entire weekend lay ahead in which I was to be the prime caregiver to Lorelei, who was just hitting 6 months, and Isabelle, our 3-year-old. Meanwhile, my wife was upstairs in our bed, on painkillers and armed with her cell phone so that I was always just a speed dial away from doing her bidding.Oh my fucking gawd. It's a miracle the poor man survived.
This would be a weekend in which I couldn't do only the fun stuff -- like playing blocks and watching cartoons -- with the girls. I was obviously going to have to feed both of them (three times a day!), and I would have to tackle Herculean tasks like giving baths, changing all of the diapers, putting them both to bed, and even giving medicine to Lorelei, who had an ear infection.
As was reading this piece of dreck, another in a long line of dreadful parenting and relationship pieces featured at CNN recently, I was thinking surely the moral of this story would be such that the author's framing (that Fathers' Day is given short shrift) was the opposite bookend to a realization that, in far too many cases, fathers haven't actually earned equal recognition from their own families.
I was fixing a French dish I like to call poisson et pommes frites (um, fish sticks and fries), when I caught Anderson Cooper on CNN. He was in Baghdad, surrounded by American soldiers, saying he was exhausted and scared. Yet he warned the audience not to be too impressed with him. In a few days, he would fly home. The soldiers would remain at their posts.So says the man who just admitted he leaves almost the entirety of childcare in the hands of his children's mother. He doesn't regularly feed them, bathe them, dispense their medicine, change their diapers, or put them to bed, but somehow he's still "involved" and deserves the same recognition as his wife, that selfish harridan who keeps her cell phone handy during convalescence to make her poor, put-upon husband do "her bidding," even during weekend days when he couldn't recruit some other female relative of his daughters' to care for them!
Now, I'm not comparing our girls to Iraqi insurgents, but I do appreciate more than ever that mothers are usually the soldiers in the parenting battlefield. Even full-time working moms do more child-rearing than us dads, studies have repeatedly found. Fathers tend to play the part of the dashing news reporter, swooping into parenting duties just long enough to get our hands dirty. My wife deserves her weeping cherry tree. And like most moms, she is worthy of much more.
Yet I think we dads merit at least a little more than boxer shorts, soap-on-a-rope, and neckties. We don't get the good stuff because we're paying for the sins of our fathers, and our fathers' fathers. But these days, dads are changing diapers, warming bottles, and taking our kids to the park. We may not be where you want us yet, but we've evolved, and we're involved.
Just as much as the moms, we appreciate the cards, the praise, and being treated special on our day. So if any of you mothers now feel guilty enough to spring for a slightly nicer Father's Day gift -- say, a plasma TV with a 50-inch screen -- make sure it also has built-in speakers with surround-sound.Yeesh. Someone get this guy a cookie already.
Maybe a 50-incher that has spelled out in chocolate chips: "Father of the Year."