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Top-Ten Tuesday: Stuff Dads Just Don’t Get

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When you’re a SAHM, you have the benefit of being with your baby all day long, so you learn how to care for her most effectively and efficiently. I try to remind myself of this each time I begin to cringe at something horrendous my husband is doing. As much as I know I shouldn’t always intervene and risk be labeled “bossy,” I usually can’t help myself.

What’s interesting is that whenever I complain to my mom friends about how clueless my husband can be, it turns out their husbands are equally clueless in so many of the same ways! We love our husbands, dearly, but there are just some things that dads don’t seem to get. Here are our top ten “favorites”:

  1. First and foremost, this is your baby, too! Just because we’re SAHMs and we do all the childcare during the day, doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when you’re home. Don’t just assume we’ll take care of everything 24/7. Would it kill you to take a little initiative?? She has a messy diaper? Go ahead and change it! She’s hungry? How about you find her an appropriate snack! No, Doritos don’t count!!!
  2. If you do find some way to contribute to routine childcare, don’t make yourself a martyr. We’re here doing this all the time, so just because you changed the last diaper, doesn’t mean the next one is our turn because you’ve filled your quota for the week!
  3. If you come home and ask what we did today, and we don’t have some grand adventure to report, it does NOT mean we were sitting on our butts all day. Taking care of a baby and a home is our job; everything else is a secondary bonus.
  4. Moms need a break, too! Being with a baby all day is ridiculously exhausting, so if we look tired and cranky, maybe you could step up and take the baby out for a walk so we can have a few minutes of peace. And every once in a while, moms do get sick. You know how dads get “sick days” off work, where they sit on the couch doing absolutely nothing while they wimper through their man colds? What do moms get? A dose of Dayquil and a kick in the pants? Food for thought. (Have you seen this one?)
  5. Once the baby is crawling, YOU HAVE TO CLOSE THE BABY GATES EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU GO UP OR DOWN THE STAIRS. EVERY SINGLE TIME. We know it’s annoying, but you know what’s even more annoying? Having a baby fall down the stairs and taking a 6-hour trip to the emergency room. Close the gates!!!
  6. And while we’re at it, you know those baby locks we bought for the cabinets containing dangerous glass, chemicals, and garbage? Oh yeah, you have to actually use those, too! If you open the lock, you must also close the lock. Give it a try.
  7. How would you feel about me sitting naked in a pool of water and then splashing this water all over your face? Oh, you wouldn’t enjoy that? That disgusts you? Okay then, please, for the love of God, use clean water to wash your child’s face, not her dirty bath water.
  8. Yeah, we get it, baby clothes can be a little confusing, especially if you’re dressing a little girl who has pieces you’ve never even seen, like bloomers, but really, try just a little to find a weather- and occasion-appropriate outfit. No, she can’t wear her satin Easter dress to the playground. No, cargo pants are not the same as formal khakis (right, Deni Lyn??).
  9. Why is it so surprising to dads that if they get the baby all worked up by chasing her, jumping out from behind corners, and spinning her around upside down, she can’t just instantaneously wind down and sit quietly two minutes later? Hello??
  10. We know it’s difficult and annoying to hold a squirmy baby over a sink to wash her hands, but this is actually necessary from time to time. If she’s been playing with the family’s collection of shoes, it’s probably not a bad idea to wash her hands. If she’s discovered the cool running water that goes down the side of the bowl each time you flush the toilet, just man up and wash her damn hands!

Love you, guys, but get a clue!

– Evanthia

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20 comments… add one

  • Deni Lyn April 2, 2012, 8:48 pm

    H-E-C-K to the Yeah! Cargos are cool nearly 99% of the time. Photo hungry Grandma’s don’t want to see cool casual on holidays. They want full on adorable!! Do you hear me? Full on adorable?! If you don’t give it to them, they will whine and whine about it for months. “I don’t understand how you dress the kids these days. Why don’t you have formal photos taken? What’s so wrong with having kids look like little kids?” However, (shamefully staring at shoes), my son behaved so badly in Palm Sunday Mass, I had him outside the Church after the first 10 minutes. No one saw what he was wearing. . .I’m sure they only noticed his squinchy angry little face. . .So perhaps to a certain degree, my husband was right – about half, for once! Ha!

    • merelymothers merelymothers April 2, 2012, 8:54 pm

      Oh God, we have the very same problem in church! No way, no how is this little lady going to sit through an hour and a half mass! However, that doesn’t mean I’m not still going to try to get some use out of all the adorable dresses that everyone insists on buying her. She may be disrupting church, but she’ll look fantastic doing it!

      • Deni Lyn April 2, 2012, 9:14 pm

        Mac used to be the darling of Mass. He would flirt with the older folks and smile and now all he seems to want to do is squirm and exercise his newly found free will. We are going to a very short service this easter. I can’t spend another hour in the vestibule sweating and wrestling with this kid while my husband gets his communion! Ha!

  • 4eyedblonde April 2, 2012, 10:37 pm

    Oh my gosh, you totally nailed it! I would like to add a few, however, if I may:
    1) On the rare occasion that I get to leave and I don’t make it back before bedtime, please feel free to put kids to bed without me. Yes, you CAN do it.
    2) I understand that brushing teeth isn’t much fun, but it IS necessary. Please don’t overlook this task – it goes fast.
    3) When the big one goes poo in the potty, please clean it up. Don’t just fill the container with water and sit it on the back of the toilet. That doesn’t help, it’s just plain gross.
    Grr…

    • merelymothers merelymothers April 3, 2012, 7:48 am

      Ooh, I hadn’t even considered the potty training battles that await (battles with my husband, not the baby, I mean)! Thanks for the additions!

  • Anonymous April 3, 2012, 12:53 am

    I enjoy your blog but this post is heartbreaking. So what if your husband dresses your daughter in a dress to go to the park? Is it that bi of a problem, really? Be happy that you have a husband that wants to spend time wit his daughter. Stop nagging and enjoy your husband. After all, after your children have left home it will just be the two of you.

    • merelymothers merelymothers April 3, 2012, 7:46 am

      Well, we’re glad to hear you’re enjoying our blog and sorry that you didn’t appreciate the intended humor of this post. You do raise an excellent point, that I could focus more on having a loving husband who adores his daughter, something I HAVE written about (here: http://merelymothers.com/and-baby-makes-three/, “From Bachelor to Babies in 8 Years”). However, I’m not sure it’s fair to classify all my grudges as simple “nagging” when several are related to making sure my husband is taking equal responsibility as a parent, a couple are related to our daughter’s safety, and two more are related to proper hygiene.

    • Anonymous April 3, 2012, 11:13 am

      I completely agree with the anonymous comment here. I felt that this post was annoyingly condescending, not humorous. I know this is a new blog and you’re still finding your way but, honestly, posts like this aren’t doing stay at home moms any favors in regards to being taken seriously.

      • merelymothers merelymothers April 3, 2012, 12:22 pm

        First, thanks for taking part in the dialogue surrounding this post, even if you don’t approve of the content.

        Here’s the thing, I wrote this list with my husband and many other friends’ husbands in mind, and while the list was written with a “condescending”/”humorous”/”nagging” tone, some of these concerns are truly quite serious. I love my husband to death, but no marriage is all rainbows and butterflies, and with this post I was exposing one of the not-so-perfect parts of our relationship: I would like him to take more responsibility for the care of our daughter, and in some ways be more conscientious in doing so. What is the harm in expressing this? How have I damaged the fragile identities of SAHMs?

        Have you considered that if SAHMs were taken more “seriously,” as you put it, we might not have to make these repeated requests of our husbands in the first place? And if we aren’t to bring any of these issues to the attention of our husbands, who will? Am I to believe that they will just naturally step up?? Not in my house.

  • Bea April 3, 2012, 7:26 am

    Wow. Does your husband know you write this blog?

    • merelymothers merelymothers April 3, 2012, 7:39 am

      He sure does! He even read this post before I published it.

      • Jacqueline Carle L'Heureux April 3, 2012, 10:38 am

        I would tell him proudly!! You’ve said nothing wrong here!!
        As I was reading I thought, I want my husband to read it!!! We have to hold fathers accountable for doing their part with their children.
        I know my husband holds me accountable for my daughter’s health, saftey and happiness!! I’m glad he does, I want him to!! I’m her mother and it’s my job!! I also invite any suggestions from him, to help me become a better mother! I’m always looking to be better, paenting is a learning process!!

  • Jacqueline Carle L'Heureux April 3, 2012, 10:32 am

    Merely Mothers,
    First off I would like to applaud you for writing this lovely blog! I think this is a great little top ten!
    I have talked about a few of these topics with my girlfriends and we ALWAYS agree!!! It’s important to understand that it’s NOT “Nagging” all we are asking for, as full-time mothers, is for part time help!
    Fathers are a VERY important role in children’s lives!! Being a father isn’t however, all fun and games!! I find myself talking to my husband about this time and time again! I love that he plays with our daughter!!! However there is a lot more than playing that she needs from him! Children need rules and boundaries and consistency!
    Being a full time mother is a beautiful and rewarding job and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, however, like any other job it is difficult and we do need a break here and there! I’m not a bad mother (or an ungrateful wife) because I’m asking for a break!! Honestly it makes me a better mother!!! A break from stress helps me keep calm and focused for my child!!
    In regards to being thankful for my husband, I am! I show him I love and appreciate him every day! If I don’t say it I show it!! I am grateful for the love and life we share!
    However, honestly every one wants to know they are appreciated. If I were in the “business world” I would after all have a salary and a review to go over how well I’m preforming my job! I would be shown that appreciation, and it’s gratifying! I’m working full time, there’s no salary, there’s no review (unless you look at a Dr.’s appointment as a review ;)! ) most of the time there’s no break, and it is (though you may not want to hear it) a difficult job! Children are need more from a mother than any job would ever ask!! Sometimes a mothers job is thankless! (I think about how much my mother did for me now that I’m a mother and I thank her EVERY day for all the work, love and attention she put in to raise me!!)
    Really all that’s being asked here is for help from your partner, your child’s father!! Is that a unreasonable request?? I think not!! Were not criticizing!! (Venting a bit, Maybe!! We love our men!)) There’s no hand book and I’m not a “perfect” mother!! Parenting is tough work and you learn as you go but when your home with your child all the time, you learn faster!! You know more about your child than ANYONE!!! Every child is different and responds differently!! As a wife/mother I want to help my child and husband have the best relationship they can!! So this means sometimes I have to hold my husband accountable!! I also want his opinion!!! If he thinks something should be done differently I am open to his suggestions!! I am a PARTNER, I’m not in this alone!! So I don’t want to do things alone and I shouldn’t have to!!
    There is nothing wrong with asking our men to help us!!Sometimes even pleading!!) I don’t think my husband should look at these tasks like chores!! I know most of them are not fun, but that’s the work of a parent! (Even better is not having to ask!! I love when my husband takes the initiative (even thought it’s not that often ;)! ) Change our little one, give her a bath, put her to bed or feed her!! Helping with daily tasks shows love and appreciation for your family!! Show you appreciate the work that goes into being with your child full time!! Show the appreciation you have for your child! Show how much you love someone by giving them a hand!
    All mothers go through frustrations (such as the above 10 you mention +3 written by a reader) with their partners. It’s healthy to talk about it!! It’s wonderful to feel like your not alone!! NO couple goes through life without gripes!! It’s normal and healthy to have frustration, even, dare I say it, argue! My husband might not always want to hear it, I don’t always want to hear about his issues at work but I listen!!! (even when I have a little one in my lap who also wants my full attention!) So as a partner you give and take!! ;)

    Again, a big thank you to the wonderful women at Merely Mothers!! Bravo for your honesty!! I love to know I’m not alone here!! Your doing a wonderful thing for all us SAHM’

  • saltwaterpainter April 3, 2012, 12:36 pm

    As a woman who spends much more time with stay-at-home dads (less drama, less judgement, more interesting conversation) than stay-at-home moms, I have to say that it makes me sad to see you lump all dads into such an awful category. From my experience, stay-at-home parents deal with many tough issues – regardless of whether they are moms or dads. Be careful with your wording. I found it really outdated and sexist.

    • merelymothers merelymothers April 3, 2012, 1:02 pm

      You’re absolutely right: this will not apply to ALL dads, especially stay-at-home dads. As I said in my intro, when you have the benefit of being home with your child all day, you learn and adapt to their needs more quickly, and I think you’re also less inclined to assume your spouse will just handle the childcare, regardless of your gender. Truth be told, I have yet to meet a single SAHD, but I’m sure some of them might have these very same complaints about their wives.

      As for “outdated and sexist” language, some might say that being a SAHM at all these days is inherently “outdated and sexist.” One of my goals in this blog is to embrace my role and find humor in some of the truly outdated interactions in my marriage (like having to ask my husband watch our daughter). Not everything is perfectly PC around here all the time, and I’m okay with that.

      • saltwaterpainter April 10, 2012, 11:46 am

        I really recommend reading this post from Offbeat Mama (http://offbeatmama.com/2012/04/equal-parenting), especially this part – “I ask myself if these women complaining about their male partners’ traditional responses to parenting were themselves willing to be flexible in their own gender roles. As long as we have the attitude that we can do it better, men probably won’t step up, because what man enjoys feeling incompetent?”

        • merelymothers merelymothers April 10, 2012, 1:19 pm

          What an interesting and relevant post! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. You may have noticed that I have written about being one of those moms who sometimes feels “so burdened with the lion’s share of childcare that they’ve had to lose the rest of themselves to manage it,” here. But I take issue with Lyla Cicero’s thesis that women who are “hesitant to view their male partners as full, competent parents” are inflexible in their gender roles and must fear not being good mothers.

          As a graduate of Barnard, a women’s college, I’m well-steeped in feminist/gender theory, and in many ways, I would consider myself a feminist. But as I get older, and especially since becoming a SAHM, I am seeing more and more of gender as a product of nature, not just nurture. Culturally, I believe it is simply impossible to be completely free of the influence of traditional gender roles and sexism. Just as you mentioned that you prefer the company of SAHDs because they provide “less drama, less judgement, more interesting conversation,” comments like this reflect an unintentional sexism. And I would AGREE with you that women are more judgmental and dramatic than men!

          With regard to my experience with my own husband, I certainly DON’T fear that letting him take on more responsibility will make me a worse parent. We’re working hard lately to integrate “daddy” more into daily routines and childcare, and not just playtime. I would congratulate moms like Lyla who seem to have seamlessly transitioned from an “egalitarian marriage” to egalitarian parenting. I’m just not there yet, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

          – Evanthia

  • Evanthia The Husband April 3, 2012, 7:17 pm

    As the much-maligned husband referenced above, I thought I would clarify a few things (and in doing so throw myself into the fray). I did read the article ahead of time and know that it is based on a collective “airing of grievances,” not just those from my wife. Also, if airing some grievances on a blog will help my wife complain less to me, I’m all for it. Finally, the views on the site are just opinions, not a playbook for SAHMs.

    – The Husband

  • Hadyn April 3, 2012, 8:03 pm

    I would love to hear from a SAHD and his perspective on this list. I saw nothing wrong with this list. I was a SAHM for over a year and I have definitely had many these grievances at least once… and I’m sure my husband has some grievances he’d like to vent about me too! I don’t do everything perfectly and neither does he, it’s a learning process. No one came into parenthood knowing everything. I don’t think loving my husband and wishing he was a little more observant about childcare are two mutually exclusive things.

  • Meredith July 12, 2012, 3:55 pm

    Love, love, love this whole post! #3 puts my thoughts into words perfectly–so glad you shared this post on my blog comments–I loved reading it :)

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