i’m just going to assume that everyone judges people on facebook in some way or another. if you don’t, congratulations, you’re perfect and you and i probably won’t get along. recently, i saw a facebook post by a young stay-at-home mother (i don’t think this person was even my friend, i think she was a mutual friend) that said something like, “omg guys i am so proud of my husband, he woke up with the baby this morning and let me sleep in, and even made me breakfast. #blessed #besthusbandeverrrr”. or something like that.
and i was like, umm, yay i guess?
i mean, good for this woman for praising her husband. i think everyone should frequently pat their spouses on the back for being wonderful human beings, if they are indeed wonderful human beings. but seriously…why is she setting the bar so low?
the way the post was phrased, it was obvious that this was a once in a blue moon occurrence, and that she was elated. and this is where the being judgmental thing comes in–my empathetic self knows that it’s possible this woman is married to a lazy, abusive man whose baseline is being drunk all day and never does anything around the house. yes, that’s possible. however, i see stuff like this all the time on social media–women getting all swoony over their partners “cooking AND doing the dishes” (ONE TIME), “waking up with the baby last night so i can sleep,” “taking BOTH THE KIDS to the park so i could get some work done.” and i’m all, whaaa? is that all that’s required to be the “best husband ever” now? if so, how do i get signed up for that gig?
while i was thinking about this, i googled “quotes about high expectations.” first result? “blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed,” from alexander pope. and more of that sentiment followed in result after result. and i was like, well, that explains a lot, i guess. maybe i’m an optimist or just a really high maintenance person, but i expect a lot out of everyone, including myself, at least when i’m not depressed. and in general, people have risen to those expectations, and i find myself surrounded by amazing people. but it seems as though society would have me remove expectations from others, not hold them to any standards at all, to protect myself from the negative feelings that could come my way if people don’t measure up.
earlier today i read an article about stay-at-home mothers that didn’t really make any new points, but did lead to an all-out flame war in the comments section. working mothers pitted themselves against sahms in a pretty typical battle in the mommy war: “i have it worse!” “no, my life sucks the most!” one thing that wasn’t there? any mention of fathers and how they contribute to the quality of family life.
so much ink has been spilled over what kind of mothering is the best, and sometimes i wonder if fathers sit back and survey the carnage, like, “phew, glad i dodged that bullet.”
probably not. because the truth is, being a father cannot be as easy as the media, and even women WHO ARE MOTHERS, make it seem. it’s true, i’ve never been a father, but i have had a father, and been married to a father, and i put a lot of pressure on those men to perform well, and they do. and guess what? being able to cook AND do the dishes all in one night, one time, was not on the list of things that impressed me about those men. and from what i know about the men in my life, they do not expect me to throw a facebook party for them when they do something that they would have done for themselves anyway (in the circumstance that they were living on their own, had they not had a wife to do it for them).
i don’t think any decent, responsible man goes into fatherhood thinking, “man, i can’t wait till i’m a dad so i can have a clean house all the time, and dinner made for me when i walk through the door after work, and be able to sleep in every saturday while my wife and the mother of my child does everything for me.” and yet, a good deal of what i read online insinuates that this is how women treat the fathers of their children–as though all they expect of those men is to go to work, punch a clock, then come home and sit on the couch in front of a football game with their hands down their pants. in that scenario, i guess a man “letting” a mother sleep in on a saturday would be a big deal. the kicker is that those same women then seem real pissed that they have to “do everything around the house.” uh, no you don’t!
a full-time job outside the house should not be seen as a free pass out of housework, just like a full-time job (because it is a job) as a stay-at-home mother is not a free pass out of concerns about money. and this also applies when traditional gender roles are reversed and mom works outside the home while dad manages childcare. and theoretically, the same goes for when both parents work outside the home: when the family reconvenes in the house at the end of the day, the humdrum household stuff still has to get done by someone. nothing, other than societal notions and our undeservedly low expectations of men, dictates that those things must be done by the mother.
i think we owe the men in our lives a lot more than to imply to them, even indirectly, that their responsibilities end with providing financial stability. i’m referring, in great part, to the little men–i have two sons, and if they choose to become fathers later in life, i will hopefully have done right by them in expressing that i expect them to provide so much more than money and physical comforts to their families. and i have the highest hopes that they will rise to, and surpass, those expectations. #bestsonseverrrrr
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