Abigail Rines weighed in with a terrific post called “Feminist Housedude,” complete with a picture of her bearded, tattooed husband vacuuming with their son strapped to his chest. She describes her husband as “a cloth-diapering wizard, an amazing cook, a master gardener,” explaining that he has established a “seamless rhythm” with their son that is simply beautiful to witness.“ The dads who write for Dadwagon have been insisting on many of the same points – that they are not only just as good as their wives but often better. Matt Vilano wrote a great post on Motherlode entitled "I hate being called a good dad,” pointing out that women stop all the time and tell him what a good dad he is when he is doing absolutely basic parenting tasks for his daughters. He notes the “heinous double standard,” that he is praised for behavior that in a mother would be regarded as routine, and that “the act of labeling someone ‘a good dad’ suggests that most dads are, by our very nature as fathers, somehow less than ‘good.’”
I’m quoting this not because I think it — or any of the articles it cites — is especially insightful, but simply in order to register my frustration with this whole debate. In our 32 years of marriage Teri and I have never had one single conversation about what “men” or “husbands” or “fathers” or “women” or “wives” or “mothers” should be doing. We’ve just looked at the situations we’ve been in and tried to figure out how to divide the labors in ways that worked, in terms of efficiency and also in terms of our happiness.
For instance, when Wes was a toddler I had all my classes in the mornings and Teri worked in the afternoons. She didn’t get home until nearly six, and it was a high-stress job, so it made no sense for her to cook. If I cooked we both enjoyed the meals better, and then she didn’t mind cleaning up afterwards. So that’s the pattern we fell into, and after a while I became a pretty good cook. But in the past couple of years Teri has not been working outside the home, in part because of some health issues, but she has generally felt good enough to cook, which has been great for me because it’s been a very busy season of my life. When her health hasn’t allowed her to cook, I’ve picked up the slack.
None of this has anything to do with gender or even with roles as such. It’s just about figuring out (a) what needs to be done and (b) who, at the moment, is better placed to do it. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that, does it?