As an at-home dad, I get questions about gender roles and stereotypes all the time. People often don’t know what to make of me as a father who directly cares for his child, so I usually end up telling them. They ask things like, “Are you babysitting today?” To which I reply, “Nope, I'm parenting.” Sometimes they still don’t “get it.” For those occasions, I had this shirt made up.
While I think that gender stereotypes are occasionally funny but mostly useless, I do believe we can learn a lot from the opposite sex. So, in an effort to truly understand the way that my wife approaches parenting, I decided to conduct an experiment. I tried to imagine living out my routine for a day, but with her mind.
I would wake up to the sound of my toddler talking to herself in her crib. She’s talking to herself. Is she hurt? Is she thirsty? Is that normal? I would assure myself that everything was okay, and proceed to get dressed. These pants are tighter than last week. Am I eating too much Halloween candy? Can I get away with sweatpants at story time two weeks in a row?
My hair would get put up in a pony tail because there was, literally, no time to shower. Then, I’d get my kid up and out of bed. This diaper is really full; no more drinks before bed. Am I a bad mom for doing that? "Stand up, so we can get you dressed." Her pants are tighter than last week. Did she hit a growth spurt? Did I leave laundry in the dryer? Dress clothes or towels? Crap, I’m going to have to iron.
We would head downstairs for breakfast. She needs to have a fruit. She didn't have a fruit at dinner last night. But I want her to be full, so she should have some protein too. I would prepare her an apple and a waffle. There's no time for eggs, but I should pack a healthy snack. I don’t want to take gummy snacks again. Crap, we’re out of milk. I should stop on the way home. “Are you ready to go?” I would ask her. We’d finish up our breakfast... Granola bars are healthy, right? ...and head out the door for story time at our local library.
After circling the block to get the cheaper parking meter (the ones closer to the library are a dollar, and these are only twenty-five cents)… #WINNING! … we would find our seats in the circle of other parents. It’s sixty degrees outside, and she’s wearing that? The librarian would start reading a book about animals. Wait, we’re making animal sounds. Why isn't my kid making the animal sounds? She does them at home. Why not now? Quack, Baby, quack… we need to practice.
"Great job!" Sweet, she knew that was a dolphin. None of the other kids knew that. “Sit down so everyone can see,” I’d remind her. Should I get a book out for me? I won’t have time to read it anyway. Don't forget the milk.
“No, we don’t eat the glue stick,” I’d tell my daughter during craft time. Why is she eating the glue stick? Is she hungry? “Are you hungry? I have raisins in your bag,” I’d offer. Did that woman just give her kid peanuts? Really, peanuts? That kid IS eating PEANUTS?! We'd finish our craft an then go play with puppets. Is she insane?! Who brings #^%&*ing peanuts into a room full of kids? “We need to share the puppets. Ask her nicely for a turn.” ALLERGIES!!! CHOKING HAZARD!!! We need to leave before I punch that woman in the vajay. #^%&*ING PEANUTS?!
When story time was over, we would head out to the grocery store to pick up the milk and a few other things. Did I bring my coupons? Do I have them sorted for stacking? Crap, I should have checked the blogs for the best deal. “Hold my hand; we’re in a parking lot! Look for cars.” There are so many germs on these carts. That bug is going around. Crap, are they out of wipes? And my husband thinks I'm crazy for having a backup stash. “Don’t touch the cart until Mommy cleans it,” I would carefully instruct my daughter. I wonder if juice is on sale. Crap, this coupon is expired. I can’t believe she brought #^%&*ing peanuts. “Don’t touch the food on the shelf, Baby! We’re going to check out soon.” Great, I forgot the milk. No time now. I'll have to text Matt to pick it up.
“Put that jar down.” Is this the shortest line? “No, you can’t have any candy.” This kid is seconds away from a meltdown, and I do NOT want to get those looks. “If you’re good, I’ll give you raisins when we get in the car,” I’d end up negotiating. Why did I just bargain with her? Don’t give me that look.
“Don’t put your hands on the belt. Your fingers could get stuck.” Really? You can’t scan any faster, Gladys? Where’s the bagger? How did Jessica Simpson lose that baby weight? Damn, she looks good. “Don’t climb out of the cart! We’re heading home for lunch!”
This experiment was supposed to last all day, but it was like I was living inside a commercial for BING. I couldn’t even make it to lunch without feeling the need to press the virtual PAUSE button to catch my breath. Thinking like a woman is truly exhausting. No wonder they say, “A woman’s work is never done.” She’s too busy thinking about everything else!