Our Story Begins:
Parenting Without Women?! The Hell You Say!!
Over this last weekend an amazing thing happened.
I’m not talking about the many, many (many) women who marched in cities across the country. Though, I’ll admit it, that sparks my article here.
No . . . over the weekend, while the Women’s March was going on the reporter Filip Bondy of the New York Times wrote an article about a town where a large number of the female residents left in order to march.
Before I get all vitriolic on things here, let me say I can posit my idea for what sounded like a great idea to editors or writers or whoever was in charge in newsrooms all across the country. Reporters galore were covering the women and their stories as they marched down streets, byways and national avenues across the country. What those same managers wanted was the “alternative” story. They wanted a story about the march, something with people but not in the middle of the march, they had that covered.
So cover the “husbands” and “dads” left behind.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not mad at mister Bondy. I do know he’s gotten a small amount of slam-back on it, I believe. Yet why wouldn’t he write the story?
The New York Times sent him to Montclair, New Jersey. He saw that the yoga studio was nearly empty. The local Starbucks was filled with mostly men. Dads who parented with their wives were left to parent alone . . . for a day. Check that . . . not even a full day, really. Just showing that the town lost so much population and how dads had to parent without them might have been enough of a story. But to write lines like: “there were other matters to navigate: children’s birthday parties, dance performances, swimming lessons, and lacrosse and indoor soccer practices. Growling stomachs required filling on a regular basis.”
Well . . . of course they did.
I’ve been parenting alone for nearly six years now. My hackles rise when people start writing about all dads like they are the clueless, inane, drooling monoliths of a caveman era. Even before my wife of 18 years passed away I was making dinner nearly every night, cleaning, wiping butts and changing diapers and feeding kids. I cleaned up vomit, pee, poop, and fluids with questionable provenances for years. So to say “oh my god dads had to suddenly realize that kids have to be fed regularly” like it’s a surprise to dads is silly.
But lest you think I’m slamming the Times and Bondy . . . let me give you the biggest point: what he got right.
The article shows the dads adjusting coats, getting lunch, driving to soccer or appointments or lessons or what have you. The kids were fed. The dads weren’t in a state of disrepair. In fact, they ended the article with a mom saying “He was great, and there was no expectation he wouldn’t be.”
That’s a paradigm shift, my friends. This entire article may talk about dads having to parent alone, but it never says that they couldn’t parent alone. In fact, it seems their wives never even thought about that.
Years ago my wife, when she was still around, had attended a mom’s group and heard nothing but people around her complaining about their husbands. They couldn’t do anything right, they couldn’t cook or clean and they didn’t trust their husbands to watch the kids. When they came to my wife she looked at them and said “these are their kids, for God’s sake! They’re not going to kill them. You people are all f***ing nuts!” She asked her friends if they’d ever actually asked their husbands to watch the kids or do any of the things they were complaining about. When they couldn’t . . . she left.
I’m not saying this to make myself sound great, I made and make a toooooonnnn of mistakes. But I was always a partner; so much so that when I was left to parent alone, thinking I couldn’t, I was amazed at how much I really did know about.
Women are amazing, beautiful, kind, soft, independent, smart, organized and terrific. They are, without a doubt, the better half of the species, I’m certain of it. But sometimes . . . just sometimes . . . the men have actually paid attention.
That may amaze you even more.
What about you? Did you ever think your dad and your husband or partner couldn’t handle things?