Nothing like ending a blogging hiatus with a rant*…

*or as I like to put it,  a post expressing an opinion I feel strongly about.
(I’m always stunned at how easily some people relegate a “comment” or a “post” to a “rant”….that was actually one of the hardest things for me to adjust to when I moved from South Africa to the U.S.   It seems to me that Americans are very much more sensitive to the expressing of strong opinions than South Africans are. Particularly those of the Western Mormon persuasion. Fun cultural fact for the day.)
Moving on.
So yes, I’ve been away for a while. No big reason.  All is well.  It’s Summer, I’ve been off my routine,  and stuff. I have lots of fun photos to post and happy times to mull over…soon.
But first:
Here’s what I posted on facebook today and I felt moved to elaborate upon it.  (Mostly since it was long, I felt the need to type it out on a real computer rather than peck it out on my iPhone , which meant I had to actually fire up the frankencomputer (you should see this thing) whereupon I thought..hey, remember my blog? I should just throw this on that old thing. And here we are. Is there no end to the tangents today? Apparently not.)

I have noticed whilst lazing here at city pool (as Aaron B Sayer takes care of our young child, Ella)..That you almost never hear the irritable needy cries of "DAD" around here. It is always "MOM!!!" "Mooooo-ooom!!" Why is this? There are plenty of dads here. Note that I did not say "while poor kind sweet henpecked Aaron heroically deigns to babysit Ella..". (I am now going to take my Ella shift..).
Ok and here comes the ranty part. What you thought that was the ranty part? Oh no, gentle reader, there’s more.
So here’s what annoys me (apart from pretty much everything most of the time). When people come to me and tell me how lucky I am to have Aaron as a husband because they have seen him out and about with all FIVE OF OUR KIDS.  Or how they imply (or openly state) that I am a spoiled little princess taking advantage of my poor beleaguered man, because Aaron is frequently out with our all FIVE OF OUR KIDS. Also because Aaron has been known to wash some dishes and generally makes the dinner.
Ok here’s the thing. Aaron is an amazing husband and he’s a great dad. I’m definitely very blessed to have him in my life. He’s a great person.  He is kind and considerate to a fault and completely selfless. I do not dispute this, I acknowledge this frequently and I am grateful for it.
But he is not all these things because he takes care of our children on a regular basis (with and without me in the picture). He made those kids with me. (And he had the easy part in that whole process).  They are just as much his responsibility as they are mine.  Why on earth shouldn’t he take them out and supervise when he is available to to do so? Why should he be canonized for doing so? I don’t remember anyone ever stopping me at the grocery store when I had all my kids around to tell me admiringly how awesome I am.
On the rare occasions that I have gone away and Aaron  has assumed the single parenting role, people have been all agog.  Amidst all the praise he is heaped with offers of help and meals. I think this is great. Anyone who takes care of 5 kids (or even one kid) without another adult on site for more than 24 hours deserves praise, and offers of meals and assistance.  But this almost never happens for a woman when the male in the equation leaves for any reason.  She’s the woman, she should be able to do this.  Suck it up, sister. This is your job.
As I was talking to Aaron today I also mentioned that when I do leave my family I get a sense of (or in some cases open) surprise that I would be so unmaternal as to do such a thing.  Maybe because this is in fact my job. My primary job description is indeed a stay at home mom and as such when I go away, I am taking time off of my job and my family. Double whammy? I don’t know.   Since I am not a working mother I can only speculate on what they are met with if they travel routinely or for extended periods on business. I suspect that they are met with quite a bit of judgment from quite a few different places. I suspect that their dedication to their  career as opposed to their dedication to their children is called into question more often than we would like to think it would be in these progressive times. But men who travel have a much simpler lot. They are seen as being good providers, they are heroic, ambitious….they are doing this for their families after all.
Know what makes me so “lucky” to be married to Aaron? He finds all this as annoying as I do. And happily he is in good male company on that.  So all is not lost. After our conversation at the pool I totally coincidentally happened upon this article and it echoed all the things I had been saying…
Actually it turns out that in my experience it’s not really the men who are perpetuating this type of thinking. Strangely, I get most of these comments from other women who marvel at the miracle of my equally involved partner.  The only time I can remember a guy chiming in was when I was considering visiting my sister in Australia for a couple of weeks in order to run a race with her and a male friend of mine raised his eyebrows and said, “Isn’t that a bit irresponsible of you? I mean, you have four kids!” (Think what he would say if I planned it now that I have five! And this was from an educated and generally liberal minded individual.)
So here’s the thing:
My husband is not a hero for taking equal care of our kids when he’s around or for contributing to the running of the household in practical ways.
I am not a shrew or a princess or lazy or taking advantage of him for expecting him to do so.
He is not “whipped” or emasculated for expecting to do so.
Being a single parent is equally hard and equally worthy of awe and support regardless of the gender of the single parent.
I think that’s all.  (I reserve the right to add to this “rant” as I see fit).
So, how have you been?

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Jill said...

Amen Sista!

Sisters from Another Mister said...

Do not get me started on this ... what with one who took his traveling to the new extent of a waterfront condo an hour away ... and thinks if he sees his kids every other Saturday - it is still considered parenting. If a Mom did this - it would be considered abandonment.

Kirsty said...

The double standards when it comes to parenting in a separation or divorce are the most nauseating of all, Nicole. My blood is boiling just thinking about it....

Anonymous said...

Kirsty, in SA there are very few stay at home moms, times are tough and both parents are needed to provide and equally care for the kids. Its not frowned upon very much here for mother's to work or travel, at all actually. Think you have it far worse, perhaps based on where you are and the "mentality" of the people around you! But yes, in principle from my side, off the cuff, I have noticed when a man lives alone, such a fuss gets made that he "lives alone" and "keeps a house alone" or that "let's invite him so he is not alone over occasions" - I say this cos I see the difference, no one makes a fuss at a woman in equal circumstances. It still is very much a man's world!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear! It has always irritated me to hear a dad say, "sorry, I can't (fill in the blank with anything from basketball to whatever) because I have to babysit." I have actually called some of them on it by asking them if they are parenting or watching someone else's children. Ha!

You rock, Kirstie!

Carolyn. (Julie's mom)

Jessica said...

Oh gosh, Aaron is so much like Keith, and I get so much flack about how much Keith 'helps out'.....even from good friends.
Sooo well said...

Bubbleyumgirl said...

Perhaps the men don't SAY it so much, but it seems as though they are perpetuating the awe and amazement at Aaron's actions by their very own actions as husbands and fathers. You know that saying, "We teach people how to treat us" - apparently the message those women who deign to judge women with husbands who pull their weight are sending to their husbands is that they want to be martyrs, and find satisfaction in labeling the wives as lazy or pampered. Or they just have inferior husband-picking skills. *laugh*

Kelly Hand said...

Nice to discover your blog, Kirsty. I also have noticed that whenever I go away, my husband gets a lot of dinner invitations, and this never happens to me when he goes away, so it was great to read your rant. Maybe this has something to do with the assumption that even when men play an active role in parenting, they are somehow less competent or capable of doing it on their own. It's problematic for men, also. My latest blog post, "The Burden of Summer Fun," was a rant, too, and I notice the typical response from Facebook friends, etc. was similar to my response here, which amounts to "me too!"