Saturday, June 19, 2010

Re-Post: It's Hard Out Here for a Dad

For Father's Day 2010, I bring you an oldie but goodie from 2008:

My closest friends and I, who are pretty Strong-Willed Women, married Really Nice Men. To a certain extent, I mean this As Opposed to the Men We Dated, who were not necessarily Not Nice, but who perhaps didn't keep our best interests in mind in quite the same way that our spouses do. I've been appreciating these Nice Men lately.

When I hear a parent of young children bemoaning the loss of the Life he/she Once Had, I tend to agree that we're in The Trenches. Despite the picture suggested by smiley, sweet holiday photos of families with small children, these are not very easy times. Most young-family parents I know are either still growing their careers or abandoning them for the time being, while balancing the desire to have the right housing for their family with the goal of remaining financially solvent.

We're also wistfully remembering when we used to exercise. When we used to excel at something or have hobbies. When we used to sleep and read books. When we used to give attention to and spend time with people taller than four feet, including one another, our friends. And our spouses.

We're not exactly feeling sorry for ourselves; I think we all have reasons to feel fortunate.

But we complain on occasion. Women in particular, we Moms and Wives, have some pretty nifty mechanisms for griping. The Old Friends Network is primary, of course. We've been keeping up with hometown, high school, college, and/or neighborhood friends by phone and email for years. And we've added playgroup and work friends, and maybe even friends we made in the grocery store or doctor's office. Blogs and online discussion boards have more recently emerged as popular means for Moms to express themselves and connect with others.

Let's face it: all of us could probably benefit from more healthy soul-searching and honest expression of how we're really feeling. But women have some outlets. We have places to vent and sympathetic ears waiting. And our sympathetic company tends to be fully clothed, and our interactions free and legal.

Dads, on the other hand, have some challenges. Sure, they catch a break not having to be pregnant and breastfeed, but there are some bonding benefits for Moms associated with those not-always-rosy experiences. There has to be a helpless feeling that comes from Dads knowing they're sidelined for these parts, too: they can't exactly take on the stretch marks for a while. They're not so helpful with sore nipples. And none of the females in their lives are sympathetic.

Moms are exhausted. Moms are trying to do it all. This is true, and this is well documented and publicized. But the Dads like my husband and many others I admire are full 50% or more Partner/Parents. They bathe, dress, feed, change, teach and snuggle their children as well as prepare meals, do dishes and laundry, and clean bathrooms, because that's how they roll. It's (MOSTLY!) not a contest for Who Does More in partnerships like these. I appreciate Nice Husbands who put their heads down and work really hard with their kids and families even though they are bound to occasionally screw up and get crap from their wives. It's not that they're not sometimes giving their wives crap,'s just that they're not getting IT as often anymore, either.

If you know what I mean.

Which is why I'm thinking my husband and others like him have sacrificed a lot during these Young Children Years, AND they've done so relatively quietly in comparison with their wives, who talk about all this stuff a lot more, and with more people (and then feel better as a result). The women I know recognize that they don't have much time for themselves and then seize opportunities when they arise. The men I know recognize that their wives are spent and emotional, and their children are needy and, well, immature. And that everybody needs them to suck it up and help hold it all together.

So, I'm not arguing that there is a contest of martyrdom which the Dads are winning. I'm not calling for a Daddy Pity Party. I'm just saying, (invoking Bud Light's Real Men of Genius ad series), here's to you, Mr. Patient Dad of Young Children (and Dutiful Husband) Guy.

Today we salute you, with this rewritten rendition of Three 6 Mafia's Oscar-award-winning song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp":

It's Hard Out Here for a Dad

You know it's hard out here for a Dad (you ain't knowin')
When he tryin' to get this money for the pad (you ain't knowin')
For the diapers and the carseat money spent (you ain't knowin')
Because a whole lot of mothers talkin' smack (you ain't knowin')
Will have a whole lot of wives jumpin' ship (you ain't knowin')

In my eyes I done seen some crazy tantrums in the streets
Gotta couple grannies workin' on the whinin' for me
But I gotta keep my eyesight on the remote for game night
But like takin' from a baby don't know no better, I know that ain't right

Done seen babies poop, done seen kids who can't deal
Done seen myself lose it when my peeps won't eat their meals
It's messed up where I live, but that's just how it is
It might be new to you, but it's been like this for years

It's spit-up, sweat and tears when it come down to this prize
I'm tryin' to get some sleep 'fore I wake up to someone's cries
I'm tryin' to have time but it's hard fo' a Dad
But I'm prayin' and I'm hopin' to God I don't slip, yeah


Man it seems like I'm duckin', dodgin' diapers everyday
Wife hatin' on me cause I got no breastfeeding in my day
But I gotta stay cool, gotta not let it bother
Can't keep up with my offspring, that's when stuff gets harder
Bachelor Pad is where I'm from; now I'm playground bound
Where fathers all the time end up lost and never found

Man these wives think we demand thangs, we sleep alone instead
They come naggin' every night, they lucky we ain't dead
Wait I got a kindergartner, and a toddler, too
If I pay the right price, can they spend the night with you?
That's the way the game goes, gotta keep it strictly even
Gotta have my hustle tight, makin' sure no one's leavin'...

Happy Father's Day, Dads of all kinds!

No comments: