Even in the age of co-parenting, I spend a fair amount of time listening to and reading about women complaining about all their things their husbands don’t do as parents. It’s almost assumed that mother not only knows best, but that she is best.
Not in my house. I make no bones about it: My husband is a better parent than I am. And while it’s not entirely pleasant being married to a better parent, I do try to bear it with a modicum of dignity.
Most of the time I do just fine, but it’s rather acute when M goes away for work and I am left to be mum and dad, usually without much success. For example, M drives the kids school in the morning. They have a whole fun route planned, complete with steep, windy roads, fun landmarks (including a large statue of a pig in a chef’s costume) and a weekly early-morning-fun Tully’s trip for hot chocolate, apple cider, and overpriced juice.
When I drive to school it’s usually because M is away and I’ve had to wake and dress five kids as well as coax them into eating some small amount of breakfast. By the time I get them into that car, I’m in no mood for fun. Hell, I’m in no mood for parenting. I prefer to avoid driving up steep hills in the dreaded minivan, so no pig statue for me, and I do not, even for the smallest of seconds, contemplate sharing my morning coffee experience with children. Inevitably a song comes on the radio that reminds them all of M and they then spend a good ten minutes reminiscing about all the great car rides they’ve had with him, as though it was not just yesterday that he drove them, as if I were not sitting right there.
His supremacy is even more glaring on our birthdays, which fall in the same week. I start announcing birthday demands a good three months before my birthday. I try to preface them with I know that whatever you do will be just fine, but we both know that’s far from true. And while I try to be a good sport on my birthday I take supreme offense at having to do any of the following on the day of my birthday as well as two days before and two days after: empty the dishwasher, load the dishwasher, put a small child to sleep, change a crappy diaper, clean up vomit, set the table, and take phone messages. (I’m sure that list is longer, but that’s all that comes to mind.)
This is how you spend your 40th birthday, if you happen to be M:
First, you are permitted to sleep late. And by late I mean until almost eight o’clock.
Then you are serenaded and fêted over our traditional birthday breakfast.
After which you pile into the minivan en masse to watch your son’s final Sunday baseball game of the season, complete with a protesting, screaming 6-year-old, perennially cranky 3-year-old, and several other children, all of whom are yours. Halfway to the game you realize that you and your wife forgot to take two cars (as discussed) and now, you will all have to go to the Little League post-party, instead of sneaking home for some down time as you’d planned. You don’t grumble and you even remember to pack snacks.
Once you’re home and your big day is more than half over, you and the same son sit down to work on a class project … Which finds you happily building Noah’s ark out of graham crackers, royal icing, and mini marshmallows. Happy birthday to you.
(Apparently, if it’s your birthday, you DO get to give Noah a tall, blonde hoochie-mama wife, and it’s more than ok if she’s wearing hot pants and he’s staring at her boobs.)
If it were my fortieth, I would not smile my way through a day of parental responsibility, nonplussed that I had to share the spotlight with little leaguers and marshmallows. But I am not half the person, or the parent, that M is.
Which is why I have to decided that on Father’s Day I will load and empty the dishwasher, put all small children to sleep, change every crappy diaper, clean up any vomit, set and clear the table, and take many, many phone messages. In short, I will suck it up for M, who in addition to being a remarkable person, is a remarkable dad.
Happy Father’s Day.
More from This Is the Corner We Pee In
About Lea Geller
I’m a part-time lawyer, full time mother of five (ages 9 and down)… Currently in sunny Seattle. People ask how I manage it all, and I like to say that I do lots of things, but none of them very well. That’s my secret…. In a house of seven strong, distinct personalities, I always seem to have a story to tell. I suppose I got tired of people telling me, ‘You have to write this down!” So, I finally did, and blogging about our large mishaps, small triumphs, and other adventures, has helped hold my sanity together, albeit loosely. Check out the rest of Lea's family's adventures on her blog, This Is the Corner We Pee In.