FATHERS AREN'T INCOMPETENT NEANDERTHALS
Like, really! I remember growing up watching sitcoms on TV (think "Home Improvement" with Tim the Tool-Man Taylor) and my dad would quietly grumble about nearly any character that was a dad. He'd mutter his disapproval of the portrayal that dads are often incapable of functioning inside the economics of the home. You know... things like making a good dinner, changing a diaper, or providing nurturing care of their children. Instead it'd be absurd portrayals of dads using welding torches to cook a chicken and being disrespected by their kids.
I never really understood my dad's gripe -- until now. Funny how becoming a dad can do that so quickly.
I'm the oldest child in a family of six. Yeah, you heard that right... SIX! Growing up we had a lively household where there was always something happening. Never a dull moment. And as the oldest, I was dubbed with two nicknames: "The Dictator" and "Mister Mom". Both were because I became incredibly good at giving orders to my younger siblings (with painful consequences for disobedience... which I'm not proud of) and also good at all the stuff most folks learn in their home economics class. (Is that still a thing? Is there a home ec class anymore??) You know -- making dinner. Doing laundry correctly. Changing a diaper. Being empathetic when a knee is scraped.
So my gripe is two-fold:
1 - Shame on culture shapers for setting a precedent that men are inept.
2 - Shame on men for playing in to this narrative and using it as license to be lazy and/or act like neanderthals.
Not much can be done about the portrayal of Tim Taylor. But what I can do -- and you can too -- is to choose a different narrative. I think the current narrative is played in to because it's convenient. It leaves men in a posture of getting a pass on things like empathetic engagement (being gentle and kind with significant others and children), expressing care and support through making dinner, or being lazy by saying "I'm not good at baby stuff like diaper changing". And what's worse is when we choose to use this narrative as license, it inadvertently accomplishes something else that we as men completely hate. It breeds disrespect from others. Men love respect! So isn't it ironic that we'd say with our actions, "let me pretend like I can't be mister mom and let me act like a boy by using a flame thrower to grill a turkey" but then our next breath demands respect?? It's nearly laughable. (I know -- I'm using strong statements. That's on purpose.)
So -- change let's the narrative. Be the dad that not only supports their child financially, but emotionally. Be a humble beast. Be the dad that shows care and fortitude by being a freakin diaper pro.
Just today I had Margot's poop on my shirt, cleaned while attending to her needs and holding her in my arm, and managed to get her fed, cleaned, and all our stuff loaded in the car and out the door on time. And it was the most manly thing I'll do all day. I'm not Tim Taylor... I'm Micah. And I'll wear that poop like a badge of honor. (Metaphorically of course.... I took a shower, y'all.)
Fathers are not idiots. Let's choose a better narrative. Cheers, dear ones.