With Father’s Day right around the corner, I’d like to take a few minutes to celebrate our men. Because as much as we complain about them, do we really ever tell them how much we appreciate them?
Why is that?
Well, I think it’s because we expect way too much of them, in the same way that we expect way too much from ourselves—far more than is humanly possible. Meanwhile, life goes on, and daily life grinds us down until one day, we find ourselves in the midst of some new drama, stressed to the gills and ready to explode. And when we do finally explode, guess who gets caught in the cross-fire?
Bingo! Our poor little honey-pie, that’s who. Who’s stressed out about his own stuff and suffering his own worries, by the way. Not that you’d notice. Sigh.
So there’s two things I’ve realized recently. One is that there’s never enough time to get on top of everything, no matter who you are or what you do. If your children are young, you, my dear, will no doubt be drowning in angst at some point during this pretty little day. Maybe it’s the kids puking on you, maybe it’s the fact that you have no clean clothes, maybe it’s that there’s nothing to eat and no magical imp who’s going to step up to cook your dinner.
I hear you, sister. No matter how hard you’re scrambling, things are never going to magically fall into place (and if they do, it’s usually pretty damn short-lived, like, say 60 seconds). But that doesn’t mean we need to lash out and blame our honey-bunnies for all of this. Because the truth is, they’re working their asses off, too. We just don’t notice it.
Trust me on this one—I’m a serial offender. Every friggin time I go off on Ken about how disgusting and fraternity-looking our house has become and how come I always have to freak out before anyone will help me clean and while we’re at it how come I’m the only one who ever cleans anyway he’ll point out some of the other stuff he’s taken care of—things that I hadn’t noticed, of course. (Note: bonus points if you remembered that using words like always and never don’t actually help anything during an argument. Yeah! Isn’t this fun?!)
The problem (and probably why I didn’t notice all the stuff Ken had already done) is that I’m usually feeling so friggin overwhelmed by everything that still needs to be done that I can’t think clearly. Which means I’ve much become a raging lunatic who’s turned on her honey and is now looking at him like he’s the enemy. Instead of remembering that he’s my partner—and that yes, we got into this together 800 years ago, before the children lobotomized us both—I’m now looking at him with some kind of trapped animal vibe, seething a for-the-love-of-god-somebody-better-fucking-help-me-fix-this venom.
Yikes! If that’s not trouble, I don’t know what is.
Thankfully, I’ve started to catch myself every once in a while, stepping back and saying, Hey, wait a minute! I love this guy. He’s my partner, not my enemy. How about we try working together for a change, instead of just trying to rip each other to shreds?
The truth is, our men are dealing with a lot of the same shit we are. They’re working their asses off at home and at work, wishing they could see their friends, spend more time with their kids and hey maybe even get in a little free time every once and a while. And just like us, they’re realizing that perfection—on the home or work front—is pretty much impossible.
Just this week, I came across three articles addressing this lack of work-life balance for men, all of them riffing on Sheryl Sandberg’s recent book, Lean In, and talking about how men have never had the work-life balance we women crave. Now, I’m not trying to get into any finger-pointing her, just trying to point out–sing it with me, sister–that men are dealing with way more than we give them credit for.
Here are the articles if you’re looking for a little more professional back-up:
Businessweek: “Alpha Dads: Men Get Serious About Work-Life Balance”
Esquire: “Why Men Still Can’t Have it All”
And an article in Money Magazine by Elain Pofedlt, which hasn’t yet appeared on their website, titled “Lean Out.” (Click here to read a related piece by Pofedlt in Forbes.)
Anyway. Like I’m a-saying, maybe it’s time we start cutting our hubbies a little more slack. Cause the truth is, they’re working their butts off just like we are, and making all sorts of trade-offs, just like we are. Sure, it’d be different if they were sitting out by the pool drinking brewskies all day. (Wait. Did those days ever exist?) But they’re working their butts off at work, then working their butts off at home, wishing—just like us—that there were a few extra hours in every day.
Plus—c’mon, let’s be honest—our men are pretty awesome dads. Don’t you think? They’re doing a hell of a lot more than our dads (god love em) used to, back when men left all the child-raising to their wives.
So today, let’s step up and honor those dads. Today, let’s step up and honor our men.
(And for those of you feeling a little nostalgic, check out Deniece William’s “Let’s Hear it for the Boy.” Yikes! Did we really used to dress like that?!)