This post is going to turn some heads and/or push some buttons. My intention is to share my feelings and to make you think, not to sway your opinion, change your mind or start an argument. This is simply a conversation that has lived inside my head for a while. One that I’ve had at times with a couple of different women, but most often with my husband.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Active Dad’? I’ve heard it thrown around in sentences like ‘Oh he’s such an Active Dad.’ Instant nails on a chalkboard to me, like instant…Hold up. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Active Mom’? Or was the phrase you actually heard more like ‘Active’ Mom? Any idea where I am going with this?
When I first decided to make this my weekly blog topic, I had a certain narrative in my head that I was going to follow. But before I started writing, I did what every good writer does…I started with Google. I googled (love how that is a verb now) both ‘active dad’ and ‘active mom’. The results in Google were eye opening, but not surprising to me…or maybe they were but they shouldn’t have been.
When I googled ‘active dad’ this is what came up:
When I googled ‘active mom’ this is what came up:
Do you see anything alarming with the difference in results? Anything that surprises you or makes you take a second look?
I see something that takes me back a step. When you search ‘active dad’, the results are related to being a present parent. Articles that relate to how to be involved in your child’s life. When you search ‘active mom’, the results come back more like ‘active’ mom. Meaning everything relates to physically moving, personal training, bootcamp. Sit with that for a minute. I know this is only a google search, but that alone proves my point and is nails on a chalkboard to me.
The bottom line is that ‘Active Mom’ doesn’t actually exist. All Moms are ‘Active Moms’ (except the very rare circumstance).
It is 2022 here people, not 1950. Why then, in 2022, does the term ‘Active Dad’ exist? Why does society praise Dads when they take an active parenting role? Why is this the exception and not the rule?
I’ve heard comments from people in my own life who praise my husband for actually taking a role in our kids lives. While I’m so very thankful for all he does do for the kids, I’m not about to give him praise simply for being around (sorry babe). Because in my mind, that’s a given…that’s not special. Nobody tells him how lucky he is for having a wife who actually does things with his kids, like feed them, take them some place or stay home. That’s what you do as a parent, you take an active role in your kids lives. It’s called Dad or Mom.
It’s possible that I lost some of you or some of you are thinking that I’m some feminist on her soapbox. Probably going to lose some more of you when I say the rest, but here goes.
At the beginning of July I had coffee with a friend and we agreed that sometimes it’s actually women who are the problem. Sometimes it’s women who let men off the hook way too easy. Women try to control way too much or have these unrealistic expectations.
3 things I believe to be true:
My husband deserves to develop his own relationship with his kids. Whatever that looks like for them.
My children deserve to have their own relationship with their dad, one that I’m not intruding on.
His relationship with our kids allows me time to do things for myself. I deserve to be me too.
Dads don’t always do everything a mom does the way she would do it. The house is sometimes a disaster when you get back, the kids might not have the best looking hair or be dressed in something that matches. But at the end of the day, that’s all white noise.
Everyone has their own situation and for some, this does not apply. Some dads are just straight up absent a$$holes for that I apologize.
But I’m talking to those moms who are just holding on a bit too tight to the reigns, who wont let go of control or are always nagging.
Let go. Let him be his own kind of dad. Let’s empower more men to jump right in. No more ‘Active Dad’ talk or praising them uselessly. That’s all a part of the job.
And please please please whatever you do, stop saying you have to ‘babysit’ your kids. YOU DON’T BABYSIT YOUR OWN CHILDREN.
I’ll just begin with the honest truth. Pretending to be mentally ok, has made me anything but okay.
It’s been close to 2 years in the making. Life has just seemed hard lately. Being a parent is so challenging, but living through a pandemic while parenting…who’s bright idea was this?
For 2 years, life has been broken promises, broken plans, broken vacations. I was suppose to go to Hawaii in July of 2020, my mind is playing tricks on me…did I really have flights and an Airbnb in Maui? Was all of that just a dream? It absolutely is a dream of mine to go to Maui, but it feels like I dreamt that I actually had a plane ticket to go. What is real life?
My mental exhaustion was disrupting my sleep, it was making me smile less and yell more. I worked so damn hard in 2020 and 2021 to put on an act, to keep all the balls in the air. But by fall of 2021, I was starting to lose it. The balls were starting to fall, but what really was falling was my happiness.
Of course I didn’t admit any of this to anyone. I’m one of the strong ones, at least that’s what they always tell me. I was one of the lucky ones. I had a stable job with great husband, a house and 2 beautiful kids. I worked from home all through COVID, so no disruption in pay when life shut down. Living the dream, they’d say.
Then one day as I was driving home in the new car we had just bought, I got that call. You know the one that you dread. Well maybe for some it would be an in-person meeting. Remember though, life was anything but normal and the office was closed for high COVID cases. My layoff came over the phone before I even got home in my new car.
It’s the first time in my life or career I have ever been laid off. If I was being honest, my gut could see it coming. Work got slow. Clients started disappearing. But my heart didn’t want to believe it. 10 years with the same company, a layoff feels like a break up, like a huge fat rejection. It’s almost something like grief.
There were tears and anger, bitterness…the normal emotions. Feelings like ‘what in the f*#k do I do now?’ Talking to God in the shower like I know I have talked to him before, especially when I had my miscarriage. “Are you serious? This is part of your plan? This is the worst plan.”
It’s been 2 weeks. 2 short weeks or maybe 2 long weeks, I have no idea. But here’s what I have so far.
I have smiled more in 2 weeks than I have in 2 years. I have taken the opportunity to play with my kids, read to them and actually enjoy their company and stay present without thinking of something that I need to get done or falling asleep. I read a book for fun and actually retained the information. I did things that I actually wanted to do instead of things that I felt obligated to do. I don’t have that dreaded pit in my stomach every single time that my phone rings that I will have to go pick up my kids from school and try to work while they talk incessantly to me. I actually talked to people on the phone, meaningful conversations with loved ones.
Of course, I’m still a work in progress. I have absolutely 0 idea what I’m doing in life or when I grow up. But I know one thing…
So here I am, I’m still standing. Most of the balls I was juggling have fallen and are laying broken at my feet. But the most important ones that I have been taking for granted are still with me and I could not feel more grateful.
Let’s make this short, sweet, raw and real. Something so refreshing happened to me a few weeks back. We were outside enjoying one of the nicest days of the year and our sweet neighbors came outside.
To preface this: throughout COVID these sweet people were some of the only real life people that Sweet R saw. Sweet R is a talker (if you met her Dad, there is no questions where she picked this trait up). She talks in her sleep, to her self ALL DAY LONG, and to my husband and I ALL DAY LONG. I am amazed that she doesn’t get in trouble at school for talking too much. Our neighbors always genuinely listened to her and interacted with her.
Anyways…our neighbors have a little one the same age as Beast R. The impossible age of somewhere between 2 and 3. The age that makes working from home IMPOSSIBLE. The age that makes pretty much anything productive impossible, unless it revolves around them. So my neighbor tells me that she had to end up sending her little one to daycare full time because she just couldn’t work from home and try to entertain a 2 year old anymore. She follows up her statement with ‘for my mental health.’
I wanted to reach out and hug her. I don’t hug people, hugs aren’t my thing. But standing right there I finally heard someone come out and recognize that the mental health of parents is at stake. For a year I have heard these BS canned answers about COVID being great ‘family time’ or a ‘great time to slow down and do things they haven’t been able to’. I’m sorry but I don’t buy it. I don’t buy your Facebook posts or perfect IG photos with smiles. I’ll be the first person to tell you that I can recognize some good things that have happened in the past year. There have been some positive things.
But one of them is NOT trying to working from home with my entire family there. Nor is one of them listening to Moms (and Dads) lying through their teeth about how great the family time has been. I pulled my hair back into a half pony tail last night to wash my face and made the mistake of looking in the mirror. Oh my god, I have infinite more gray hairs. Some of them might come from age, but alot of them come from parenting in a pandemic.
So thanks neighbor for telling the truth, for acknowledging that pretending to be mentally ok is exhausting and just being real. It does not mean that you love your kids or family any less.
This morning, as I was having yet another conversation with my daughter about her attitude, a realization smacked me in the face.
Sometimes I talk to strangers (coworkers, friends, clients) nicer than I talk to my kids.
That was really hard to just type, that realization was really really hard to admit. It smacked me really hard. Why on earth do I talk to a stranger nicer than I am talking to my own child?? I adore my children, what the actual f&*k am I doing?
In the heat of the morning routine, my daughter wasn’t listening to me AGAIN. She was going in what felt like slow motion. I got snippy with her, I had things that I needed to finish. In return, she responded to me in the same manner. She mirrored my behavior. I mean after all, that’s all my kids are doing daily. What am I teaching her? Am I teaching her to talk to those she loves like that?
How you say it is just as important as what you are saying.
I am human. I get frustrated, I get frazzled more than I’d like to admit. And most of the time the people that get the brunt of my frazzled, are the ones that I love the most. While this isn’t right, it’s the truth. Guilty as charged.
Point noted, tomorrow I will try harder. Thanks Sweet R.
It’s advice that I hear often from the varsity moms. Mostly from the Moms of kids who are grown and no longer live in the house. Moms who are 20+ years removed from the ‘you’re going to miss this’ actions of their kids.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying it’s not good advice. It certainly is.
But honestly, when you are in the throws of a hard season with your kids (whatever age that is because there is always a hard season)…it’s the last thing you want to hear.
It’s straight up just not helpful. It comes with guilty feelings or a suggestion that we aren’t enjoying our kids enough. We are all deep in the trenches trying our best, we don’t need any shade thrown. Mom guilt is a real thing and we don’t need more.
Let’s get this out in the open, I’m 100% thankful for my kids. They are definitely one of my life’s greatest blessings.
But, I would say that over half of what I do for them is not something that I will miss. Changing diapers, sleepless nights, washing bottles, throw yourself on the floor tantrums, attitudes, smart mouths, talking back, the word no, cold dinners, dinners that last 5 minutes, fighting, cleaning up messes that aren’t mine, flooding bathrooms with water outside of the tub, not going to the bathroom alone. You get my drift, and I’m positive you can add to my list.
With that said, the things I will miss, I’ll miss hard. The love of a little person is amazing.
Watching a little person learn to walk or read or explore something they love, when their little hand reaches up for yours, introducing them to things you love, hearing the words ‘I love you Mom’ as you walk out of their room at bedtime (especially after a rough day), watching them sleep so innocent and beautiful…this list goes on and on. I’m positive you can add to that list as well.
It’s innocent advice, but the next time you feel the need to say it…I urge you to rethink. Tell us we are doing the best we can and that’s good enough. Tell us that you know what it’s like and reassure us that it will be ok. Tell us to breathe. Ask us if we need help.
But good lawd, stop telling us we are gonna miss this. We are well aware of the things we are going to miss. Well aware that time is flying by.
What advice have you heard from fellow parents that just isn’t helpful?