Two weeks ago my wife left town for a week-long conference in Dallas. We have a nearly three-year-old and an eight-month-old.
The baby doesn’t sleep particularly well and needs a bottle about every two hours at night. Think midnight, 2:00 AM, 4:00 AM, 6:00 AM. Each bottle takes about five minutes to warm and another five for her to drink.
While my wife is home, night feedings normally fall to her because she is breastfeeding and she has to be up anyway right? Obviously not. I was able to do just fine while she was gone. Since she’s gotten home I have taken over the 4:00 AM feeding giving her a little relief as she is woken up by her milk supply at around four hours anyway.
While I was parenting on my own for a week I had a lot of help from friends and family but while I was out in the world on my own, I can’t tell you how often I was asked if I was “Ok?” or told, “You’ve got a handful.” Indeed I do but they are my handful and my responsibility as a parent.
Our friends had varying reactions when they heard my wife would be gone for a week.
Most were on the order of — “Is your mother-in-law coming to help?” Or, “By yourself?” or simply “Wow!”
This is in reaction to a parent taking care of their own children by themselves for a week. I know they are young and need a lot of attention but if I were a mother, the reactions would be non-existent. The reason is simply that mothers are expected to be able to take care of their children while fathers are looked at as inept and ignorant caregivers (most of us are including me some of the time).
But I’ve had some experience with big responsibility like taking care of an elderly parent so I’ve been prepared to a degree to the challenges and joys of hands-on parenting. I love my children and want to spend time with them. I really appreciate all of your offers of help. I do. But simply put, you are part of the problem if you automatically think a father can’t take care of his children and needs extra help when a mother has to be away. This simply isn’t true and is a form of enabling to fathers.
Listen I am guilty as sin as aforementioned of shirking duties when it comes to childrearing and unfortunately that is an all too human characteristic. When given an easy out, an easy way to avoid hard work often time the temptation is too great. So women, stop letting us off the hook. We will complain and moan and shirk as long as you let us. Handoff that baby and don’t look back. Don’t feel sorry for us. Leave us alone with our kids. It’s normal! We’ll be better off for it and so will you.
More About Francis Sparks:
Francis writes all types of adult fiction from short story to novel length. At the moment, the voices of the characters in his mystery/suspense and high fantasy novels have clamored their way to the front of his writing queue.
Francis grew up on a farm in Iowa where he spent his days avoiding bulls and other livestock as he created castles in the pasture made of fallen trees, twine pilfered from his father’s hay baler and his imagination. In fifth grade, he discovered TSR/Wizards of the Coast and their treasure of fantasy novels. Ever since he’s been chasing the writing dream. His mystery/suspense novel Made Safe was signed by Pandamoon Publishing in September 2015 and will be published in the fall of 2016.