I sat in my dad’s living room at a family and friends gathering and ate my lunch while my husband carted off a baby with a diaper full of poop to the next room to change her.
An older male guest looked at me with confusion and said, “He is changing her diaper?”
Confused by the question I said, “Yeah,” with a puzzled look back to him.
He replied, “What do you have to do to get him to do that?”
Now slightly offended, I said, “Nothing. He changes it because he is her dad.”
The older gentleman laughed and said, “I am sure I never changed one diaper when my kids were babies—that was their mom’s job.”
I just smiled and said, “He also brushes the girls’ hair, packs their lunches, and picks out their clothes.”
I received a laughed huff and an eye roll, and a snide comment was made in my husband’s direction under the man’s breath.
I looked at my dad who was listening to the exchange and asked, “Did you ever change one of my diapers?” My dad shrugged and said, “I don’t think so, I definitely never changed a poopy one.”
Men of my dad’s generation may have been more hands-off with the kids, especially their daughters, but it was not because it wasn’t their job to braid hair, change diapers, and make bottles.
It was because of the stereotypes placed on the roles of parenting that each generation is breaking piece by piece to bring equality to the parenting roles.
My husband works outside the home, and for those first couple years after our first daughter, I stayed home, but that didn’t mean he went to work and came home and lounged around after his hard day at the office. No, he came home rolled up his sleeves and jumped in with diaper duty, bottle washing, folding the never-ending, heaping piles of laundry, and sometimes throwing together dinner. Just because his day job was done didn’t mean he came home and slipped into an easy chair and relaxed the rest of the evening. He was there to parent our kid alongside me.
My husband woke every morning for work but still paced the floor during colicky nights and woke for 2 a.m. feedings so I could rest even though I would be home the next day and he would be in the office.
He knew the work I was doing in the home was just as stressful, tiring, and important as the job he was doing outside the home to provide for us.
My husband knows changing diapers and feeding bottles, kissing boo-boos and braiding hair are not the work of a mom, but instead, the work of a parent—of which our girls have two. And regardless of our titles as mom or dad, we roll up our sleeves and do the work.