Father's Day

In honor of Father's Day this Sunday, I asked my husband to explain his views on dads, moms and "balance."

Cat Poop on Sundays

By Perry Steiner

Dads are simple, very simple. We want to have fun with our kids, share laughs with our friends, have sex with our wives, and occasionally play or watch some sports. We like hanging out without being nagged. We go to work. That's about it.

The truth is that a lot of men don't struggle with the same work-home balance issues that moms face, and we don't understand or relate to most of it. I've sat through dozens of conversations with Leslie and her friends on women's struggles of work vs. family. I'm probably one of the few men who has read her book. As a clueless husband, I was shocked by it. Shocked by the never-ending anxiety. Shocked by the extreme highs and lows and frustration and resentment on all sides of the table. Generally, just shocked.

Men have taken their fair share of beatings on this blog, and at times I've personally taken a healthy dose. It ain't easy being a working dad either. We struggle with our own problems. In many families, we shoulder the burden of being the primary breadwinner. We work long hours, longer than any previous generation of fathers. Yet we are more involved with our kids' lives than any previous generation of men. I've been to more kids' sports games than any parent I knew as a kid growing up -- and our oldest is only nine. I think it's great. But we don't get credit for it. It's expected.

We do a lot around the house and with our kids that never gets noticed. My own dad thinks I'm Superman because of everything I do that he never did. Unfortunately, my wife doesn't see it the same way.

Leslie and I live in an old house. Stuff breaks all the time. It usually doesn't get noticed by anyone but me, and no one notices that I've fixed it. I can't tell you how many rainy nights I've come home from work, long after dinnertime and the kids have gone to bed, and I remember that I've got to take out the trash. No one is even aware that I am out sloshing around, dutifully hauling mountains of trash to the curb. Sometimes I just need a doggie treat.

When Leslie was pregnant with our youngest, she convinced me that some study declared cat poop dangerous to pregnant women, so I got duped into changing the cat litter every week. Our youngest just turned four, and somehow, I still have the job. You can imagine how much I enjoy this every week. It turns into a Sunday night chore, which is when I remember it. When I was changing the litter last Sunday night, Leslie yelled down to the basement to let me know that The Sopranos was about to start. Thanks, honey.

We're men. We do our best. We're not selfish. Just clueless.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  June 16, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dads , Guest Blogs
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>Shocked by the never-ending anxiety. >Shocked by the extreme highs and lows and >frustration and resentment on all sides >of the table.

Consider that just may be Leslie!

Posted by: Momof2 | June 16, 2006 7:37 AM

My husband is a great dad. He works hard, has a grueling commute but still makes it to concerts, baseball & softball games etc. He's also a great cook and does the weekend meal's for the most part which we all look forward to (I mow the lawn). I have to agree that men do more on the homefront and it is just expected by women that they will do so. I'm not sure why that is a surprise though, because women do more as well and it too is just expected. Every now and then we both thank each other for the relentless efforts we make in providing a nice, stable home for our children and ourselves. A thank you goes a long way.

Posted by: WorkingMomof2 | June 16, 2006 7:45 AM

Happy Father's Day Perry! Such a fine display of courage sticking your neck out to write this column. I hope you got paid! HAHAHA

On Balance it seems you have decided that the Sunday cat litter is flak worth flying through rather than taking a stand - eventually maybe the four year old can have the job every other week!

I have a old house too and I actually love the fact that is so old. Means that flaws and cracks are character! uh right? but it does mean that the "honey do" list is endless. Funny that even if the entire weekend was spent shuttling kids to sports, dance, church, birthdays, whatever... that this winter I missed way to much MNF fixing, spackling, whatever. One week of evenings was spent stapling insulation onto the basement floors because the kitchen floor was too cold. Yet when we get to crossed swords " dont do anything around the house."

um, we dont have pets. We have a couple neglected fish.

Oh well a small price to pay to "have fun with our kids, share laughs with our friends, have sex with our wives, and occasionally play or watch some sports." As for the "hanging out without being nagged," for that "We go to work" and kill the cat.... Unless the sex part aint goin so well and the cat is all you got.

Happy Father's Day,

Maybe I should get a cat?

Posted by: father of 3 | June 16, 2006 7:57 AM

You want a medal for taking out the trash? For cleaning out the litter box? Whose job should this be, since you're so clearly miffed and resentful that it's yours? You want special recognition for going to your kids' sporting events? What kind of "credit" are you looking for? This is a chore to you, a burden?

I don't like it when people use this comment section to be rude. So I mean this with all due respect:

I agree with one thing you wrote: You are clueless. Exactly what did you think you signed on for when you became a husband and a dad?

Posted by: Amy Louis | June 16, 2006 8:03 AM

Well, I was beginning to emphasize with Perry, but as I read his article, I realized that, as a single mom, I have been doing all of the "dad" chores for the past 20 years as well as my own! So do I get a gift on father's day, too?

Posted by: lovedbeingamombut | June 16, 2006 8:04 AM

Perry ,
Right on the money , beware the bitter people , they're already coming out this morning . " I don't like to be rude but , I'll go ahead and be rude anyway " . Bitter , party of one , you're table is ready ! Hang in there Brother , and remember , all the bitterness that comes in today is THEIR problem , not yours. We are simple , just simple enough to be able to laugh these kind of comments off .

Posted by: shoreman | June 16, 2006 8:16 AM

"We're men. We do our best. We're not selfish. Just clueless."

This really makes me scratch my head. On the one hand, I completely agree that many husbands who feel that they are doing their "best" simply have no "clue" that their best can always get better. Are wives who feel overburdened by insufficient sharing of the household and childcare chores (no, the children aren't chores, but their laundry, dishes, and so on are) supposed to just accept this final statement of the blog as "well, that's the way it is, so I get I should just get over it." To me, it smells like a cop-out on the husband's part. On the other hand, my marriage has gotten happier the more I've learned to just let things go.

I have to say that this blog entry, although admittedly brave and honest, irked me. If husbands are aware that they're clueless, why so little attempt to get a clue?

Posted by: cb | June 16, 2006 8:28 AM

Lovedbeingamombut - sort of pathetic that there is no Single Parent's Day. Maybe Hallmark will catch on...

Posted by: Leslie | June 16, 2006 8:28 AM

Amy Luis wrote, "I agree with one thing you wrote: You are clueless. Exactly what did you think you signed on for when you became a husband and a dad?"

Let me answer for ya Perry -

Friendship, teamwork, support, sex...but although a sensitive man of the '80's, when I said "I do," I didnt sign up to became a woman!: ie I retain my condition of blissfull ignorance and forgo all the handwringing over useless minutia and deal with what is and what I can do to improve the situation. Empathy sucks. Emphasize the practical! If Perry wants to complain about shovelling sh*t every Sunday doesnt seem an unreasonable gripe.

I do beleive "lovedbeing a mom" qualifies for a Father's day card and a day for a round of golf or unimpeded access to ESPN. A "Blue's Clues" blackout period should apply.

Good luck today Perry, I hope you have a thick skin.

Where can I buy a cat?

Posted by: father of 3 | June 16, 2006 8:29 AM

I don't think all husbands are clueless, I think in some cases they chose to be clueless, just as I chose to be clueless about drills, oil changes etc...my husband choses to be clueless on setting up playdates. Its a trade-off and don't all married couples make trade-offs in the chores departments?

Posted by: Workingmomof 2 | June 16, 2006 8:34 AM

"...I didnt sign up to became a woman!: ie I retain my condition of blissfull ignorance and forgo all the handwringing over useless minutia and deal with what is and what I can do to improve the situation"

Who wants you to be a woman? However, all the things women often concern themselves with aren't just "useless minutia" that should only be of concern to them. Hello. You (male or female) and the kids have to eat everyday. Which means you have to cook (or some facsimile thereof). Which means you have to go to the grocery store. Which means a list might be nice or at least some idea of what you need to do said cooking. This is not "useless" minutiae. This is what gets you through the day. And while it's good to get some of those projects around the house done, sometimes it's NOT the mostly useful thing someone can be doing to contribute to the household's bottom line.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | June 16, 2006 8:43 AM

are too

Posted by: father of 3 | June 16, 2006 8:50 AM

We're not talking about being clueless on how to cook a souffle. We're talking about husbands feeling heroic for taking the trash out in the rain when that effort, although certainly deserving of thanks, may pale in comparison to the often thankless efforts of his spouse/teammate. Yes, I know that many parenting jobs are thankless, but do most husbands know that, too?

So that I could sleep one night, my husband once stayed up until 3 a.m. to console our baby who had difficulty sleeping for the first year of her life. He told me that he deserved a hero's medal for what he had done. She was 2 months old, and I had done it without help until then. What does one say to that? Having a fight over that level of cluelessness seemed pointless.

Posted by: cb | June 16, 2006 8:52 AM

fatherof3, cats are a dime a dozen. I'm betting if you checked around at your work, you'd be able to find three or four people who "just need to get rid of a kitten or two". After said acquisition of cat, invest in one of those litter boxes that is self-cleaning. :D

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | June 16, 2006 8:53 AM

Father of 3, get a kitten from the animal shelter. They are annoying animals but they are fun to toss around and make easy pets for the kids. I got my first cat from the marriage package and did my decade of box duty. I gave my 2 daughters kittens for Christmas presents after the original died, both females, so now my daughters do all the dirty work. I can tell when they don't get fed because a dead animal shows up on the porch, but hey, it keeps the critters out of my tomato garden. Anyway, within a year after giving my daughters the kittens, we had a litter of 5 more. Our 2 year old son had great fun chucking them around the house. Out of the litter, we gave 2 away to a mother that needed emergency child care, 2 more went to friends, and the last one went to my next door neighbor, who has a boa constricter.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 16, 2006 9:02 AM

Sorry Perry, but I hope Leslie doesn't let you read these comments since so many people are out to get you. These gripers often suffer from penis envy, lack of sex, selfishness, loneliness or, more likely are just a bunch of bitter Bettys. Now ladies get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich. Now.

Posted by: gripe | June 16, 2006 9:06 AM

I forgot to mention that the kittens will solve the neglected fish problem too.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 16, 2006 9:09 AM

"Having a fight over that level of cluelessness seemed pointless." - cb

Ay, tha's the rub! I believe this should be a keynote phrase in the manual for the parenting/marriage learner's permit and the mantra during the mandatory 30-day cooling off period.

Maybe the minutia I was concerned about is the problematic translation of "I deserve a medal, or I deserve thanks." These comments don't exclude the notion that the counterpart of the first part don't deserve recognition, or even more recognition. Since it has been known for spouses to take umbrage at their other half wanting credit, thanks or some sort of atta'boy (atta'girl) positive reinforcement for breaching the Elizabethan role model boundaries, it is healthy to just say thanks, or ya could roll your eyes and say, "Silence you bumbling ignoramus. Let's get busy."

Posted by: Father of 3 | June 16, 2006 9:15 AM

It would be truly sad if this turns out to be a "bash the clueless dads" blog in honor of father's day. I really think that Perry's 'clueless' reference is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Putting myself in his shoes it generally maps to a puzzlement around why all the stress and hand-wringing exists in the day-to-day. I don't think he means that he's incapable of making a shopping list.

Ladies, I think it's perfectly valid for us Dads to think we deserve the occasional pat on the back. If you want to say you Moms deserve them too, I agree. If you want to say we don't deserve the simple "thank yous", that's very dissapointing to me.

Perry, great post and good luck buddy. I've got Nats/Yanks tix on Sunday and I almost feel like I should ditch the wife and baby and take you! ;-)

-Pp.

Posted by: Proud Papa | June 16, 2006 9:16 AM

I rather enjoyed today's column and didn't take any offense. I think it's worthwhile to see things from a man's point of view.

Years ago when my son was very small, and my husband and I both worked, he told me he felt like he was "doing everything."

I bet it did feel that way to him, because a child takes a lot of energy. So, he was doing much more than he had previously. I was also recovering from a major blood loss after delivery (it took about a year to feel better).

And, while my husband liked to cook, he was not cleaning or doing laundry, or making sure the baby had diapers and food, (okay, I breastfed for a long time, so he couldn't do that one).

We both worked a regular schedule (we were home for dinner every night).

Then when my son was about a year old, my husband re-activated his commission in the Naval Reserves. So with a small child, he was able to go away for a weekend a month and several weeks a year.

He didn't need to go; he wanted to. In the years since then, he also finished his M.S. and PhD. I had finished my M.S. and dropped out of a PhD before kids. (Actually, my grad school would not grant me a leave of absence when I had my son).

All of this happened gradually, over time. It's not as if he announced, "For the next ten years, I'll be away one weekend a month, and working long hours, and by the way, I'll be pursuing my advanced degrees two or three nights a week."

Having a second child in the middle of this showed me how much things had changed. While he was very busy all of the time with his own pursuits, there was no way he could feel or say he was "doing everything." He was hardly ever at home.

And, maybe this is where some men --not all -- are clueless and choose to be.

Yes, he cooks occasionally, he takes out the garbage, and does an occasional load of laundry. And I thank him for what he does. Okay, mowing the lawn, too.

But in all honesty, he has no idea of what goes into running the house and family on a day-to-day basis, and all of his busy work ensures he won't have to be truly engaged in it.

On the other hand, I know he feels a tremendous burden of being the major breadwinner. But the truth is, if he had sought a more egalitarian partnership in this area, he wouldn't have to be the major breadwinner.

I felt I was parenting alone much of the time without the benefit of being alone.

Posted by: Kate | June 16, 2006 9:19 AM

I disagree with Terry on 1 point. I think men are selfish, we just don't care.
I'll share a recipe I learned from my wife:
Pick up the phone. Dial 411, ask for Dominoe's Pizza...
Oh yeah, and what man needs a clue when there's a cold 6-pack in the fridge?
C'mon dads, lets have some good-old-boy fun, it's our day!

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 16, 2006 9:29 AM

"When Leslie was pregnant with our youngest, she convinced me that some study declared cat poop dangerous to pregnant women, so I got duped into changing the cat litter every week."

She was right. Pregnant women exposed to dirty cat litter can develop toxoplasmosis, described this way by WebMD:

Toxoplasmosis is a common infection in birds and mammals, including humans. It is caused by a tiny parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. For most people, toxoplasmosis is not dangerous and goes away on its own. However, if a pregnant woman becomes infected and passes it on to her unborn baby (fetus), it can cause blindness and brain damage in the fetus.

Sorry if you don't like the nasty chore of cat box cleaning, but your wife was right about that one.

Posted by: not a supermom | June 16, 2006 9:32 AM

"I think men are selfish, we just don't care." - Father of 4

There it is, the God's honest truth. In all seriousness, this helps me understnd my husband much better.

Posted by: cb | June 16, 2006 9:36 AM

You got lucky with the cat poop. When I was pregnant with my youngest, I had difficulty carrying the laundry basket full of dirty clothes to the basement. So, my husband took over and actually did all the laundry for the family. That's a chore that I never took back. He still does laundry for the entire family. And the baby is 14. =)

We may complain about the guys but deep down we still love you all. I hate to admit it, but some of the problem with this subject is that a lot of women want things done their way. If the cooking were left to my husband, we would only eat 3 different things. So, I'm not happy with the amount of cooking I do. I realize that he isn't refusing or expecting me to do it all, he just isn't doing it MY way. It's not fair to expect him to be me.

Posted by: whiny wife sometimes | June 16, 2006 9:38 AM

I say hurray for you to put your "feelings" out there. I mean women always want to know how we're feeling.

I can see from the comments it's so they can bash us for being "admittedly" clueless.

So the moral of the story is rule with an iron fist, don't admit to being imperfect and build a man cave where no women are allowed.

But on the bright side, if someone says they're doing the best they can, I take it at face value. The tone of the column in no way indicates someone trying to "get over" on anybody else.

My wife tells me exactly what I need to do to keep harmony in the house. "TAKE OUT THE TRASH AFTER DINNER, every night, even if it's not full." So I do. But then there are the nights I have school. And we eat out, or get home late from other activities or need to run errands. Or have to go check the car because my wife thinks it's shifting funny, or she heard a weird noise while going down a gravel road with the kids yelling in the back seat.

So is my wife delusional? Clueless and delusional are a great pair.

You know if we'd all just worry more about doing our best, and not trying to compare ourselves to everyone else's life we'd all be much happier. Or am I just clueless?

Posted by: 3Girls1Wife=2MuchEstrogen | June 16, 2006 9:38 AM

Feeling like "deserving a medal" most likely comes from being taken for granted. In my house, we never take the other for granted.

If I cook dinner, the wife thanks me for cooking. If she cleans up, I thank her for cleaning. If I empty the dishwasher, she thanks me for doing it. If she makes the kids' lunches for the next day, I thank her for doing it. If she breaks something, I thank her. When I fix it, she thanks me. It's simple.

Nothing is assumed / taken for granted in house - other than pre-arranged items (like she takes the kids to daycare).

And as for the kitty litter, the disease that can effect pregnant women (taxoplasmosis) can only be in the cat's feces if they are outdoor cats. It is from uncooked, contaminated meat (i.e. catching animals). The articles pregnant women read on this (normally in pregnancy magazines) often fail to mention that "little" distinction.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/toxoplasmosis/factsht_toxoplasmosis.htm

"A cat can become infected by eating infected prey or by eating raw or undercooked meat infected with the parasite."

Posted by: Father of 2 | June 16, 2006 9:39 AM

Hey supermom, taxoplasmosis a risk ONLY if the cat goes outside. Indoor cats CANNOT get taxoplasmosis. Take a look at this PDF file from the CDC's website.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/toxoplasmosis/ToxoWomen.pdf

Lots of ways to get taxo. He got fooled.

Posted by: Father of 2 | June 16, 2006 9:42 AM

Yes dear, you're right.
I was wrong.
It was all my fault.
I am sorry.
I'll do better, you'll see.
I promise.
Can I get you a beer?

Which of these dont go togther?

Rubber Duckie, you're the one
You make bathtime lots of fun
Rubber Duckie, I'm awfully fond of you

(woh woh, bee doh!)

Rubber Duckie, joy of joys
When I squeeze you, you make noise!
Rubber Duckie, you're my very best friend, it's true!

(doo doo doo doooo, doo doo)

CHORUS:
Every day when I
Make my way to the tubby
I find a little fella who's
Cute and yellow and chubby
(rub-a-dub-a-dubby!)

Rubber Duckie, you're so fine
And I'm lucky that you're mine
Rubber duckie, I'm awfully fond of you!

Peace in our time. A mystery wrapped in an enigma.

I do.

Hang on Perry!

Posted by: father of 3 | June 16, 2006 9:43 AM

I read the article, my daughter read it and pointed it out to me and sent me a big Thank you dad note, and then I read the responses. I thank God I have the wife I had and not some of the gals that post here. She is my other half that helps to balance me as I work my regular job and my reserve duties. I work this hard so that she can work part time and being there for the kids when and if they need it.

I mow the lawn on weekends, cook most weekends, help with the dishes, fix the dishwasher, change the oil in all the cars and do other maintenance as needed while still show up to most games and sports. I'm not clueless and consider all this work as what a father is supposed to do in support of his family. I know my children don't always seem to appreciate it but that's not why I signed up for this job.

So I'd like to thank my wife for tolerating me in all my moods and finding the time to make dinner most nights and keeping it hot for me those nights I need to go for a run to help balance my stresses. And thank you Sarah for being a good daughter. You and your brother and sister are all good people and I'm proud to be your father.

Posted by: Another Dad | June 16, 2006 9:44 AM

Having spent a large amount of time around men before I got married (comes with the territory of my old profession of geology), I am well aware that men are generally more clueless than selfish. (Selfish behaviour is present equally in both genders, and I don't see the female gender as the sole paragon of virtue) As a result, my husband generally "gets away with" (his words) a lot more than most of his friends.

However, we are doing a little counselling right now. Not because we're in trouble, but because we're working on improving our communication skills. In only a few sessions we've already broken through some assumptions we had made about our relationship and each other in the few years we've been married. The little fights are disappearing, and we hope that we're getting ready for a kid of our own (or perhaps, the realization that we don't need one, having met in our 30's when our lives were more set).

What I think is funny is my Mom's attitude. When my husband does something that drives me crazy and I gripe about it, she tells me I need to just accept it, that's the way men are and marriage is. But lately she's also been telling me that she let my Dad get away with "selfish" behaviour for far too long and she wishes she had changed it long ago!

Posted by: Chasmosaur | June 16, 2006 9:45 AM

not a supermom, thanks for posting the toxoplasmosis info -- I was irked when I read that and was going to do it myself. You saved me the trouble.

One other phrase I wanted to call out: "We work long hours, longer than any previous generation of fathers." I *highly* doubt this. Check back to the beginning of the 20th century, before there were maximum work-week laws, or earlier, when people toiled from sunup to sundown (hearkening back to my high school Dickens and Silas Marner there). Maybe for the upper classes the long hours are a new thing, but they've always been around for the rest.

That said Perry, I did like your column and think you're doing a great job negotiating your responsibilities. Have a great father's day!

Posted by: NY lurker | June 16, 2006 9:50 AM

Well, my cats go outside sometimes, and sometimes the use the litter box inside. I'm just saying ...

Posted by: not a supermom | June 16, 2006 9:52 AM

not a superman (sorry about missing the "not a" before - or maybe I'm not sorry lol),

I understand that some/many people's cats are indoor/outdoor. However, some/many cats are indoor only and it irks me when the mags don't differentiate and just tell pregnant women "make the man do it".

I HATE incomplete/misleading information in articles. Heck, you can get taxo from gardening and I see pregnant women doing it all the time - because the mags don't talk about that.

Posted by: Father of 2 | June 16, 2006 9:56 AM

Regarding Perry referring to himself as "clueless" - I think it has a lot more to do with how men and women approach household tasks -- a woman is more likely to peruse grocery store circulars, clip coupons and in essence "overthink" the weekly grocery shopping excursion. A man will drive to the nearest grocery store and buy what was put on the list. (and yes I recognize a woman probably wrote the list). If the end result is milk and other staple foods in the house does it reallly matter how the process was accomplished? We could all learn to let go a little and just let things happen. Remember Martha Stewart doesn't live at your house and she has a staff of gazillion to achieve that perfection. Be glad the men in your lives help and RELAX!

Posted by: Product of a working mom | June 16, 2006 9:59 AM

"A man will drive to the nearest grocery store and buy what was put on the list."

I wish.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 10:06 AM

I predict that "Chasmosaur | June 16, 2006 09:45 AM" will NOT need a PostNup. :-)

Posted by: Stuck in the past. | June 16, 2006 10:11 AM

Whatever, Perry Steiner. It's so obvious you think it's not really YOUR job to do all this stuff (taking out the trash, changing cat litter), so you deserve "credit" or a cascade of praise. Do you give Leslie "credit" or a cascade of praise when she does all these things?

Since it's not rightfully your job, whose job should it be?

Your tone and choice of words show that you lack a cooperative spirit when it comes to marriage and children. Aren't you and your wife supposed to be in this together?

Posted by: Wow, You're SO Amazing | June 16, 2006 10:20 AM

Where's your sense of humor people? Me - I'm sending this to my husband. He'll laugh and nod and say uh huh. Personally - I think you nailed it - esp in the first paragraph. The things that stress me out - well, my darling husband doesn't get it - just plain doesn't understand and he tries. Why can't we all just get along???

Posted by: m | June 16, 2006 10:20 AM

"A man will drive to the nearest grocery store and buy what was put on the list."

"I wish"

Ditto! Mine could spend hours going up and down the aisles. Everytime he says lets go to the grocery store I cringe because I know we will be in there way too long buy too much stuff because it was just too good of a buy. I guess its better than going to a hardware store.

Posted by: Dlyn | June 16, 2006 10:23 AM

"We do a lot around the house and with our kids that never gets noticed. . . . Stuff breaks all the time. It usually doesn't get noticed by anyone but me, and no one notices that I've fixed it."

I think the whole "no one notices but me" thing is what makes a lot of us feel burdened and unappreciated, be it dad OR mom. It's not so much the big "assigned" tasks that bug us, because we usually know enough to talk about that and work out a division of labor (i.e., I cook, he does dishes). It's the little things that fall through the cracks -- that feeling of, why does he/she always only do what I ask him/her to do, why can't he just see all the other stuff that needs to get done.

My husband and I have a very equitable distribution of labor, but there are still things that drive me nuts because he just doesn't "see" them. Two weeks ago, he put a note for himself by the door to bring his router in for a buddy to borrow. Router has been lent and returned; note is still sitting by the door. And I look at it and think, what, does he think it's just going to get up and walk itself to the trash? And yet, he'll occasionally complain that the house is a mess, without any sense of his own contribution. It's like the magical dirt fairies appeared one night. Like Perry said, though, it's not malicious, it's clueless -- that's not in his assigned universe of responsibility, so it's as if it doesn't exist. (In the interest of fairness: I'm sure I am equally clueless about some of the things that he automatically notices and takes care of. But because I am clueless about them, I can't give examples).

I think the difference is that men may be more likely to ask for attention and thanks. Of course, so do wives, so when husbands ask for that thanks, we then think of all of the unnoticed things we do without asking for or receiving thanks, and suddenly you're in a "I work 24/7 keeping this house and family from falling apart, and he takes out the trash once a week and wants a medal for it??" pissing match.

I think the only possible solution is to really pay attention to everything your partner does. And PLEASE don't just belittle it as unimportant, as I've heard in some of the tones here so far this morning. The worst feeling in the world is devoting your very limited time and energy to something because you know it needs to be done, only to have your partner poo-pooh that as a waste of time or unnecessary. Whether or not you might have chosen to do the same thing in the same way, your spouse thought it was important enough that he or she devoted time to taking care of it, instead of spendig that time doing something more satisfying or rewarding or just flat-out fun. That fact alone means that the effort deserves notice, respect, and thanks. And if you really don't know what your partner does or why, ASK!!

Posted by: Laura | June 16, 2006 10:25 AM

I'm a Dad. I do 100% of the cooking. 100% of the laundry. 100% of the yard work. 100% of the household maintenance. 100% of the pet care. I also spend "quality time" with my kids as much as possible. I take days off work (as does my wife) to be with sick kids, attend their events, read them stories, play games, give baths, change diapers, get the oldest up and ready for school.

I don't need or expect thanks for any of this--I do it because I love my wife and kids and want them to have a good home.

What do I want?

--No "face" when I want to play golf on a Saturday morning.

--No griping if I want to watch a ball game instead of "Finding Nemo" for the 427th time.

--Occasional sex without begging.

I'm like Perry--I'm simple.

Posted by: Not Superdad | June 16, 2006 10:28 AM

Dad's Shopping Strategy:

Baby in cart chair, walkie talkies to the older kids who go on recon for assigned items from master list retained by "Tranquility Base." Which when the youngest was really little was anything but tranquil. Give baby lollipop if required. Some of the stuff they would bring back to the cart was really funny. Had the store in stitches when my son's battery ran out. "Come in tranquility base. What kind of eggs do I need to buy? Repeat, WHAT KIND OF EGGS? OVER!" I could hear him from aisles away... oops.

They say that impulsive buying is done mostly by men when they are out shopping. Going to the market is my big chance to replenish supplies:

Little Neck Clams
Scrapple
Kippers
Mini-kosher dill pickles
honey-maple Boar's Head Turkey
pimento olives
saurkraut
Shake-n-Bake mix
the long nathan's hot dogs
Newman's MEDIUM Salsa

See! I can be particularly picky too.

I actually made a standard shipping list template on the computer as I was tired of forgetting the exact brand etc of prefer3ence from da boss. My wife keeps it all in her head, I needed to write down the exact kind of whatever so I wouldnt get the wrong stuff. Oh the knashing of teeth and woe when I came back with the wrong kind of TP. Memorize: "Single Ply, Scotts."

Sundays during football season the supermarkets have alot of dads right after the home team game is over.

Pretty funny scene.

Posted by: father of 3 | June 16, 2006 10:28 AM

Laura, please tell me you're demanding a Post-nup?! I find it absolutely unacceptable that any husband leave a note on a door for more than 48 hours. I hope, for your sanity, that you are making him sleep on the couch until he fixes this egregious violation of marriage. For shame! Don't even THINK about throwing the note away--he needs to learn.

Posted by: holy moly | June 16, 2006 10:29 AM

"Two weeks ago, he put a note for himself by the door to bring his router in for a buddy to borrow. Router has been lent and returned; note is still sitting by the door."

How about writing one less paragraph and throwing away the note yourself. Seriously, the effort that you have expended worring about a little piece of paper is what kills relationships.

Posted by: Me Again | June 16, 2006 10:34 AM

Re: Product of a Working Mom's statement that the wife may be "overthinking" the groceries, whereas the husband will just go buy what's on the list:

See, this is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about. Someone could certainly accuse me of "overthinking" the groceries -- it would certainly be a lot faster just to run through the store and pick up some kielbasa and a pre-roasted chicken. But I'm not spending my time planning and clipping coupons because that's my idea of a swell time. I create menus and lists because it is important to me to serve my family healthy, home-cooked meals. I clip coupons and shop for deals because it is important to me that we use our money for more important things like saving for retirement, saving for college, and going on vacation. If I didn't spend the time, we'd eat a lot more pizza and lose probably another $20/week just on groceries.

I don't mind doing this, and don't expect a medal. But if my husband ever suggested I was "overthinking" it, it would send me through the roof, because it would tell me that he doesn't have a clue about why I am spending this time and effort on my family.

Oh, and btw, he does do the shopping sometimes, but never comes home with what's on the list. Last time I sent him with a 5-item list, and he came home an hour and $63 later! But I didn't complain -- I just said, oh well, and thanked him for taking the time to do that.

Posted by: Laura | June 16, 2006 10:34 AM

I agree with you about the anxiety etc. Women now feel a crushing need to be perfect in every way to satisfy some unknown judge. They then try to pass this unreasonableness around to others and forget that life and family are to be enjoyed. Sad situation.

Posted by: patrick | June 16, 2006 10:34 AM

One time my mom put 'up doc' on the grocery list and sent my Dad to the store. He had no idea what it was so he had to ask the store manager 'What's up doc?' We still get a chuckle out of that one.

Posted by: grocery gremlin | June 16, 2006 10:35 AM

Laura--pizza is good. Stop overthinking this. And go throw away the note.

Posted by: oh laura. | June 16, 2006 10:37 AM

My dad recently retired and my mom became a SAHM when her second child was a toddler. I love and respect both my parents and I give credit where credit is due. My mom, being the SAH parent, had a job that was 24/7 and never quit... but she loved it, even with all the temper-tantrums, messy bedrooms, and nonstop chaos. My dad was the breadwinner, going to work in the morning and coming home in the evening. His job had relatively set hours, but he hated the job. Given the choice, I would rather be in the position of my mom than my dad.

Posted by: lovemyparents | June 16, 2006 10:38 AM

C'mon Laura. Admit that the other stuff he bought with the remainder of that $63 tasted pretty good once he grilled it with some ginger and fresh garlic.

Posted by: ? | June 16, 2006 10:38 AM

"up doc"

There is a healthy marriage!

LOL

Posted by: father of 3 | June 16, 2006 10:38 AM

My wife makes the menu for the week and then makes the grocery list depending on what we'll be making and what we already have. She lists the items as she reads the recipes.

Since I tend to do the shopping, I then re-write the list in basic order I'll be going through the store (fruits/veggies -> dairy/eggs -> canned goods -> cereals -> meats -> cleaning -> bakery, etc.)

I don't ask her to write the lists in the way I like - I don't have to keep scanning the list to make sure I have everything from the section - and is sure saves time in the store. I don't know why my wife doesn't write the lists that way for when she goes shopping (heck, logical to me) but if she doesn't want to, no problem with me.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 10:41 AM

Laura is a perfect example of what I was talking about.

Posted by: Patrick | June 16, 2006 10:41 AM

Hey Perry,

You are a gem in my book. While you are unhappy that you have to take out the garbage or fix things around the house, or clean the cat box, you do it WITHOUT YOUR WIFE NAGGING YOU, right? Well, imagine if she had to ask you to do this on the weekly basis. Imagine if she was the one noticing the things that break down, if she was in charge of everything and your job was to only to come home, play with the kids for 30 minute before bed time, exiting them to the point that makes them wound up and impossible to put to sleep. Imagine if the wife was the one reminding you that the house needs painting, that the deck needs refinishing, air conditioning needed looking after. Imagine a man who comes home as if it is a hotel with room service. Now, if you are still with me, imagine that this wife is also trying holding a full time job and to have a happy marriage, because her husband is not a bad person and trying her best not to sound like a nagg all the time. But deep inside the wife is wondering how it all happened this way. Ok, off to buy his father's day present......

Posted by: a wife and mother | June 16, 2006 10:46 AM

One thing I feel like I've learned from this blog is to communicate with my husband. When there's something I want him to do, I'll ask. If he doesn't want to do it, he can then tell me so, and we each knows where the other stands. I would also expect him to extend me the same courtesy, and be clear about what he expects from me. Hopefully minimizing cluelessness and frustration on both sides. We've only been married 2 months, so this is probably wishful thinking, but I'm certainly going to try to stick with it. A lot of issues that show up here do seem to stem from assumptions.

Posted by: SEP | June 16, 2006 10:49 AM

Hey, shouldn't we be seeing the good things the father-of-our-children do on this Friday before Father's Day. Didn't we expect to be treated like a queen for Mother's Day?

I understand what Perry is talking about because my husband never quite worries about things in the same way I do and seems to think I overreact sometimes. It's all just a matter of perception and I'm sure there are reversal situations between husbands and wives depending on personality. We all think we are doing it all. In fact in our house we always take turns jokingly saying "I have to do everything around here". It serves also a reminder to us that maybe we are slacking off a little bit and that a big hug is due to the other person and then we both pitch in to get some chores done around the house.

BTW, one of the attributes that I married my husband for was that I knew he would be a good father and as far as I'm concerned he is the greatest Dad I've ever known especially since mine died when I was 6. Sometimes I might think he doesn't help enough around the "house" but he is there for me and our daughter in everyway.

Posted by: Midwest Girl | June 16, 2006 10:51 AM

Last week my brother in law came over to do some drinking. We found a 30-pack at the grocery store and when the wives found out, they were pissed. "Why did you buy that much beer for???"
Our answer was simple - "Because it was on sale!"
Hey, Father of 2, glad you're back. Some of us dads really do need a decent role model.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 16, 2006 10:52 AM

Beer is delicious.

Posted by: Big Ale | June 16, 2006 10:53 AM

Reading this blog never fails to make me grateful for what I've got. My husband is neither clueless nor selfish. He's involved with his daughter, takes care of countless things in and around the house without being asked, and always lets it be known how much he appreciates what I do. In return, I try to make sure he gets at least a few hours of time a week to do what he wants to do, I let him sleep in on the weekends, and I do whatever I can to make both of our lives as pleasant as possible. Bottom line, we both put each other first, and we always try to remember that we're both working hard to make our little family work.

And boy, is it worth it. I never thought I could love my husband more than I already did before we had a child. But when I see him with our little girl, my heart just melts. And, frankly, so does hers. She's only six months old, but she already recognizes the sound of the garage door and starts grinning like mad, looking around for her daddy. What could be better?

I have a feeling I'm not the only person who's this fortunate. So happy Father's Day to all of you great dads and husbands out there.

Posted by: NewSAHM | June 16, 2006 10:57 AM

Actually, Patrick, thanks for the concern, but I really don't feel any crushing anxiety.

And come on, people the note's just an example I picked BECAUSE it's trivial. If having a pristine house were one of my priorities, I'd pick it up -- I just laughed at the irony of his comment that the house was a mess. Uh, yeah.

Posted by: Laura | June 16, 2006 10:57 AM

I love when my husband finds beer on sale. As Homer says, "Ah, beer. The cause and solution to all of life's problems."

Happy Father's Day everyone!

Posted by: Ingrid | June 16, 2006 10:59 AM

I think everyone sees balance differently. Like most of life in the 21st century, family life has sped up and is in flux. Roles are no longer clear cut. Women have made huge strides in society--they have literally redefined their lives. I think a partial consequence of that (both good and bad) is that men's lives and roles have become almost undefined. Division of labor in the home is no longer clearcut (I'm not saying it was fair in years past, just more clearcut) and so every little task easily becomes a battle ground--whose job is this? Whose should it be? Who actually does it? And do you agree on what it means to do the job (e.g., I'm a 2x a week cat litter person, my wife prefers daily since we have 3 cats... so now I do the litter daily, but I sneak out of the house in wrinkled clothes as revenge). More personal and domestic items fall through the cracks, especially the more demanding the career. We actually have a pretty decent balance at home, but even then, my wife will sometimes feel like she has to do it all. And regardless of gender, when do any two people do the same exact job? Technique is different. Focus is different. When men pitch in at home, it is often in place of mom, who usually has a distinct way of doing things--a different way that dads usually don't match. I'm hoping this merely adds some perspective or context, but the way I see things going is that men and women are fulfilling new roles while still trying to carry out old ones that sometimes conflict. As a broad generalization, this seems to cause more stress and guilt in women, and mostly just confusion in men (I'm not allowed to do the laundry at home even though I'd quite willingly take it on--if you ask me why I'm not allowed to do the laundry, I still don't really understand it... sure, there was a shirt or two that got shrunk, but nobody got hurt). Non-condenscending note to women everywhere: Men respond well to very direct communication (e.g., I need X to be done in this way at this time or else I will be stressed or feel I have to do it myself). I've heard my wife and many other women complain that they shouldn't have to ask for certain things. Sometime I agree--but isn't it easier to ask and get help, than to expect and be disappointed? For what it's worth, we've got one fantastic son, 3 cats, and 1 dog. I feel my role is undefined. But I feel loved and appreciated (by my wife and the dog at least). I think they feel the same way. And that's all that matters to me.

Posted by: marc | June 16, 2006 11:02 AM

"I'm not allowed to do the laundry at home even though I'd quite willingly take it on--if you ask me why I'm not allowed to do the laundry, I still don't really understand it... sure, there was a shirt or two that got shrunk, but nobody got hurt"

LOL...I swear my husband must have wrote this. I threw him off laundry duty with the exception of towels for this very reason. I told him he could still do laundry without my items but he was like "If I can't do it all I'm not going to do any of it." Oh, and once on a long business trip he had to wash his own clothes and came home with pink T-shirts, underwear and socks and he could have cared less but I was upset. Talk about difference in perception. BTW, he looks nice in pink.

Posted by: Midwest Girl | June 16, 2006 11:08 AM

If you're clueless, then get a clue! Winston Churchill said, "It's not enough to do your best, you must do what is required."

A lot of parents (moms and dads) I know cop out by saying, "Well, I do my best" when they really are trying to make an excuse for not doing enough or what they know they should do.

I agree that too many women/mothers spend too much time these days on endless motherhood and work debates, anxiety attacks over the smallest triffle, rounds of e-mails about the latest "scare" of childhood, and criticizing their husbands rather than being caring partners and accepting that the husband/dad might just do things differently but equally well (or certainly well enough).

So, I guess I stand up for fathers out there and ask that moms, one day out of the year at least, leave off the critical remarks, the complaints, and the nagging, and let the man enjoy some peace.

Posted by: MayLin | June 16, 2006 11:08 AM

Laura, I hope that you are not a perfect example. Because if it REALLY upsets you about notes laying around,you may find later on that you won't have to worry about them because the man who put them there will be long gone. Men put up with a lot but there is a point when men make a cold decision that enough is enough. Good luck.

Posted by: PATRICK | June 16, 2006 11:12 AM

A Fathers Day Gift That Benefits The Environment!

The ideal Father's Day gift: A C02 pressurized/refrigerated beer dispenser is good for the environment and saves multiple trips to the recycling bin with all those pesky aluminum cans and glass bottles! Reduces the deamnd on landfills from the cardboard packaging and any of the cans/bottles that dont make it into the recyling center. Also saves space in the fridge for all those leftovers from healthy meals your better half spent hours planning, economically acquiring, and preparing! Or for the extra Pizza you want to save for the next ladies night out!

Warning!!! Consumers still need to have a 30-pack on hand in case the keg runs out when the store is closed. You keep the reserves with the Dept of Homeland Security/Red Cross Disaster Preperedness Supplies: Water, Batteries, Canned Foods, batery operated radio... BEER.

Posted by: Father of 3 | June 16, 2006 11:14 AM

Come on. By a show of hands, how many fathers here sit around all weekend drinking beer wearing "wife beater" t-shirts and watching NASCAR?

I'm looking at you Fathers of 2, 3, & 4.

Come on, fess up.

Posted by: Show of hands | June 16, 2006 11:16 AM

My wife have a 50-50 relationship. She spents half her life bringing garbage in through the front door, and I spend half my life taking the garbage out the backdoor.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 16, 2006 11:17 AM

"let the man enjoy some peace."

And that is the one thing that mothers and fathers share: they both just want some peace.

Hmmmm.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 11:19 AM

"How about writing one less paragraph and throwing away the note yourself. Seriously, the effort that you have expended worring about a little piece of paper is what kills relationships."

That little piece of paper is a tiny puzzle piece of all of the things that her husband [apparently] does not see that contributes to the "messy house". Sure, she can put the note in the trash can for him, but then she might as well do the other 999 things that he doesn't "see" either. He sees that the house is messy, but misses his contributions of the components of it.

Note story = analogy

Posted by: SR | June 16, 2006 11:21 AM

Father's Day is supposed to be about how men are in their role as father, not husband. For all you ladies who are moaning about your husbands not helping around the house enough, my question is "Is your husband a good father?" If so, be very thankful for that. Don't take it for granted. Most men are far more involved in their childrens' lives than their own dads were, and they probably don't get near the recognition they deserve, because many women just seem to expect it. Well, I'm here to tell you that not all men take their role as father seriously, and once a child enters the equation, his most important role becomes that of father. So if he takes that seriously, who gives a damn whether he knows how to properly shop for groceries, or load the dishwasher, or do the laundry.

Posted by: Another Single Mom | June 16, 2006 11:21 AM

Father of 3, your wife is never going to get you a beer fridge. My wife either. Reason is that they are furniture. Wife's friends come over, she has to explain what the that thing with the tap sticking out of the top is. She can't claim that it's impressionist art and her friends will laugh at her.

Not that they arent fantastic. Before I moved in with my wife, my buddies and I had one in the group house. Full sized 50's style fridge, gutted, spray painted candy-apple red with 2 taps.

Damn, I miss that thing.

Posted by: Beer Fridges Rock | June 16, 2006 11:24 AM

It seems to me that women really do need to take more responsibility for this alleged "men are too clueless to help out properly" situation.

Ladies, not all men are incapable of a successful trip to the grocery store. Accept that they might do things differently than you, and be happy that you have a balanced home life. Or go on being a control freak -- the choice is yours.

If the men in your lives are truly incompetent at basic home care, I can only imagine that there were signs that this was the case before you decided to marry and procreate with them. Did you think the guy who was a border-line jerk when you were dating would suddenly become Mr. Let Me Do the Dishes Tonight Honey Because You Look Tired once you had kids?

There are pigheaded men out there who give all the great men and fathers a bad rap. But, ladies, if they were all single they would die out, and we wouldn't have this problem anymore!

In the meantime, let's appreciate all that fathers do. In my house, that's an awful lot!

Posted by: curious new mom | June 16, 2006 11:27 AM

Marc,

You are fantastic!! Your comments were very incisive and real! Your wife, daughter and little monsters are lucky to have you.

Posted by: SR | June 16, 2006 11:28 AM

Amen, Another Single Mom.

Posted by: Proud Papa | June 16, 2006 11:28 AM

"In my house, we never take the other for granted."

Like the poster who wrote that, I also thank my husband for everything he does. At first, when we were dating, he would say, "Don't thank me, it is my obligation." (He's foreign.) I told him, "No, I want to have good manners. I am always going to thank you because I appreciate that you did that and I don't ever want you to think I don't appreciate the things that you do." After a while, he stopped telling me not to thank him and he started saying thank you to me also.

When I want him to do something, I ask. Maybe it's the same task all the time, like taking out the trash. The can is totally full and smelly, but he doesn't always notice. Yes, sometimes he doesn't want to do some things and occasionally I get miffed and nag. Example: "Your clothes are all over the bedroom! Pick them up!" but I still thank him when he does it, even if it's three days later. And I try not to do the same things I criticize him for, because I often catch myself doing that!

Communication is key. Expecting your spouse to do something but refusing to simply ask or have a discussion just leads to frustration and resentment. If a note was hanging on a cabinet, I'd just say, "Hey, can I throw this away?" Letting little things like that bother you can destroy so much time and potential happiness.

I think it was Garrison Keillor who wrote that the keys to a good marriage were, "Good sex, good conversation, and good manners." Seems like this is what most men AND women would appreciate.

Posted by: MayLin | June 16, 2006 11:28 AM

Actually watching cars trun left for 500 miles doesnt do it for me, but the tank top undershirts are kinda comfy. I'd rather kepp on sleepin' in till 11. Then marathon Grand Theft Auto sesh, with beer and corn flakes for lunch. Everyweekend.

See - wrong demographic Show of Hands. I appreciate the try tho. Usually "honey do" list, youth athletics scouts etc dominate the w/e.

Sometimes the TV doesnt get turned on at all and I like it that way. Maybe I'll get to watch a world cup game. The Tivo has come in real handy for Sunday night catch up (fast fwd through the ads) if there was something we really wanted to watch.

Posted by: Father of 3 | June 16, 2006 11:28 AM

Come on, guys, lay off Laura, she was just making the point that sometimes one spouse notices something small and the other doesn't. I thought the rest of her post was nice.

And, before you all go saying her thing about the note is such a female thing, in our household it's the total opposite. I'm TERRIBLE about throwing things away. I always just leave it on the counter and it drives him NUTS. He's the one who I am sure is thinking, "And I look at it and think, what, does [s]he think it's just going to get up and walk itself to the trash?" I try to pay more attention but honestly I just don't think about it, my mind is on other things. So it can go both ways.

Posted by: messy mom | June 16, 2006 11:29 AM

Beer Fridges Rock: The kegerator/designated beer fridge (dbf for short) goes in the man cave. That way the missus don't have to explain nothing.

Posted by: in the man cave | June 16, 2006 11:30 AM

See, I think Laura was exactly right. Perry's blog was totally typical--he has his "jobs," and he does them. In Laura's house, she didn't make "put old notes in the trash" a specific job, so her husband doesn't do it. And who wants to have to make every last little thing a "job"? Then you're a "nag." Why can't men look at things more globally--what needs to get done around here to keep the house neat and the household running smoothly? Men seem to think they can do their jobs and be done and then relax. Women know that there are always little things to be done. And spending Saturday afternoon oiling hinges and tightening loose screws is not the same as paying attention to the house and the family 24/7.

Posted by: Arlmom | June 16, 2006 11:30 AM

For the guy reorganizing his wife's grocery list: Try giving your wife a grocery list template sequenced in the way you like it, i.e., by the way things are laid out in the store.

The list can contain items that you buy regularly, which your wife can circle if you need to get them on a particular trip, and blanks to fill in for other items. In addition to providing an organizing device, the list can serve as a reminder to check on your supply of things you buy regularly.

Have seen this work in a couple of households.

Posted by: THS | June 16, 2006 11:31 AM

"For the guy reorganizing his wife's grocery list: Try giving your wife a grocery list template sequenced in the way you like it, i.e., by the way things are laid out in the store."

THS, we do that for Costco since there are a finite number of things we buy there (but the list has blanks for extras).

The grocery store has too many posibilities (new recipe, etc) for a template. Mind you, I'm not complaining. I'm just saying that I like it one way and she doesn't "get it". Instead of it being a "problem" in the relationship, I just remake the list. Takes me 5 minutes at home but saves time and shoe leather at the store.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 11:36 AM


boy, Father of 4 sounds like a real gem, giving his young daughters(probably too young to take proper care of an animal) kittens and not getting them neutured, so the cats spawn too many more cats, letting a 2 year old have fun 'chucking around' the kittens? then giving one of them to a neighbor with a boa constrictor???? Bad enough it sounds like Leslie's family only cleaned the litter box once a week-- so much for teaching children kindness and responsibility for the helpless creatures of the world. I bet father of 4's son grows up think he can 'chuck around' other kids or later, women. Is no one else bothered by the cavalier attitude toward animals? or is kindness and respect reserved only for humans?


Posted by: Rita | June 16, 2006 11:38 AM

It's not about you anymore. It's about your wife and kids. Live to serve. You will win over your spouse with a selfless attitude.

Does any marriage flourish when a spouse demands his/her rights? Looks out for self only?

Take a break once in a while. Take the kids fishing.

Posted by: FIsherman | June 16, 2006 11:39 AM

Rita, your comments about Father of 4 can't really be serious? Because he certainly isn't.

Father of 4 I still love ya. And BTW, my cat is lucky to get the box done once a week.

Posted by: Dlyn | June 16, 2006 11:41 AM

"Ladies, not all men are incapable of a successful trip to the grocery store. "

curious new mom - WRONG WRONG WRONG!!

Every man (who is literate) is capable of a successful trip the grocery store. It all depends on how you define "successful".

If successful trip is getting everything on the list, every man is capable of doing that.

If a successful trip involves reading you mind (i.e. he got iceburg lettuce but you wanted green-leaf lettuce and you only wrote 'lettuce'), than no, it wasn't successful but THAT'S YOUR FAULT. No human can read somebody else's mind.

If you want specific things, be specific when you make the list. If you write "baby food" and he brings home baby food, it's a success. If you wanted organic, low-sodium green beans and they aren't in the bag, your list was lacking.

Posted by: Father of 2 | June 16, 2006 11:41 AM

For anyone who thinks this is a male-female issue, you're totally off base. We've got the same dynamic going on and we're both female. I think she worries way too much about some stuff, she thinks I worry about other things that are unimportant. This is what happens when you put two individuals in the same household. If you let it and don't ascribe it to gender (which makes conflict unsolveable, I think) then it's easier to sort out.

I'll admit that the "clueless" phrase set my teeth on edge (if you know you are clueless, then why not gain a clue?). Then I thought about it and realized that I am clueless--although possibly teachable--about some things that important to her because I am NOT HER. And we are never going to prioritize in exactly the same way for that reason.

I think we'd BOTH like a red beer fridge, though.

Posted by: Gender isn't the issue | June 16, 2006 11:42 AM

It's fun when a newbie starts reading Father of 4.

To know him is to...um...um...know him.

Posted by: Regarding Rita | June 16, 2006 11:43 AM

I think Perry has a huge point when he talks about the burden of being the primary breadwinner. Perhaps it isn't as true now as it was for our parents but the sense of responsibility to care for the family is innate as well as the angst about being able to do it well.

Posted by: Silver Spring | June 16, 2006 11:48 AM

Rita, I think most of just know Father of 4 talks a tough game but he's really a total sweetie.

Also, just wanted to agree with those who say take nothing for granted, enjoy your spouse, and just ask for what you need. My husband is a gem and a wonderful father. We each say thank you and I love you all the time, and neither of us feels unappreciated. We each have things that we're more aware of in the house, like Laura said, but I think we both know that's true, so it doesn't cause resentment. And if we need something done, we ask for it. It's nice.

Thanks to all you dads and hubbies who are doing your best and changing the role of men! And especially you, Marc, you made some really nice points.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 11:48 AM

Show of Hands, I've got my hand half raised. I like to drink beer and except for American Idol , the TV stays off. On weekends, I kick the kids outside and enjoy a few cold ones on the deck. It's what I call "Taking care of the kids". I never have, and never will, drive one of our children to a soccer game or birthday party. That's my wife's job, and it's what she calls "taking care of the kids".
The keg fridge is a great idea, and The shed is the perfect place to store this type of furnature.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 16, 2006 11:50 AM

Hey, Father of 2 -- I don't think the point of my post came across, so I'm not sure how to react to your statement.

I will attempt this clarification: I think men are perfectly capable of going to the grocery store. My husband does so on a regular basis, and most often using the list he constructed -- no mind-reading necessary.

How did I know he was capable of this? Because he already knew how to shop/cook when I met him. It never occurred to me that he would suddenly require remedial classes in grocery procurement once we got married.

Posted by: curious new mom | June 16, 2006 11:50 AM

Father of 4 I still love ya. And BTW, my cat is lucky to get the box done once a week.

why bother to have a cat if you feel this way?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 11:55 AM

I read my wife's mind. Like Kurtz cruisin up the Mekong I tremble at what I find, but I do get the pre-washed mixed greens and not the iceberg. The horror, the horror...

Summit Beer Dispenser. Tap handles available on ebay. No excuses. It is to save the planet.

Rita. We all need sensitivity training and should be turned in to the thought police for abusing kittens and propogating destructive sexist stereotypes. Sorry, My fault. You're right. God be merciful upon my soul.

Laura I see your point. Mess by a thousand cuts eh?

Marc, be nice to the dog just in case there's a bump in the road.

Don't go changin' to try and please me...

Posted by: Father of 3 | June 16, 2006 11:56 AM

ShowofHands wrote: "Come on. By a show of hands, how many fathers here sit around all weekend drinking beer wearing "wife beater" t-shirts and watching NASCAR?

I'm looking at you Fathers of 2, 3, & 4.

Come on, fess up."

What about shirtless watching soccer all day while drinking whisky? Does that count?

And someone else wrote about their husband having pink underclothes as a result of doing laundry themselves and how he doesn't care. Why should he? You're the only other person who sees it. If he did get upset, that's cause for worry.

Posted by: Jacknut | June 16, 2006 11:59 AM

curious new mom, I guess I didn't get your point (the first post). I get it now. :)

Posted by: Father of 2 | June 16, 2006 12:05 PM

Two Things:

1) Self cleaning litterbox, worth $100, really worth $10,000 in lack of throat drops for screaming matches. All the fights we haven't had since we bought it. Random plug: Last weekend was Memorial Day (aka Dump the dog at the pound, go to the beach day) a similar phenomenon to Labor day (aka the kids had a dog this summer, they watched the miracle of life, and now its time for them to go back to school, and learn about responsibility so we're dumping the dog and the untrained puppies day) go see if your local rescue neesd help. A lot of them would kill for help writing grants, web page help, or leash holders if you can't foster.

2) Single Moms--we take my mom out for Father's day since she did both roles for me when I was growing up. I'm sad my dad died when i was 3, but really, Mom has been nothing short of amazing.

-l.

Posted by: ljb | June 16, 2006 12:06 PM

Jacknut, you forget the guys in the locker room(s) will see the pink undies. But they are guys - they will know why.

As for "Show of Hands", I'm not going to dignify the comment with a response - or did I just do that?

Posted by: Father of 2 | June 16, 2006 12:08 PM

curious new mom, it thinking it over, my original post wasn't directed at you. It is directed at the women out there who feel men can't go to the grocery store successfully.

I stand by my original statement that all men are capable. All men can buy what is written on the list (other than 'up doc'). If it is "wrong", it is the result of an incomplete list.

Posted by: Father of 2 | June 16, 2006 12:14 PM

Wow. I am really lucky I had a dad who was so great at being a fully participating co-parent.

My siblings and I all are in our thirties now, but we have fond memories of folding laundry with our dad while watching basketball games on TV; having him coach our teams in elementary school and junior high; getting ready for school each morning with Dad as hairdresser (when we sisters were still little), backpack finder, and primary homework-checker. He wasn't the fanciest cook, but he prepared a good share of the meals each week as well. The rest of the housework we all did as a family: all five of us dusting, vacuuming, and organizing each weekend. I'm telling you: this guy even served as the sole chaperone and host of my 10th birthday party.

And there really didn't seem to be a big deal made of any of this. I never heard him asking for more credit or seeking more praise. He loved being with his kids, he respected his wife and her efforts, and never in his life had he expected anyone to do much for him. I think he'd find appalling any kind of prideful ignorance about the hard work done around the house by my mom.

I am so lucky to have had a father who wasn't clueless. He was an integral part of the functioning of our family.

Posted by: displaced westerner | June 16, 2006 12:17 PM

One poster mentioned men not thinking of taking care of chores or housework in a global sense (ala 24/7) and just trying to get their chores done... When I was 8 it was just me and my dad together for a year, so I'm used to seeing a male figure actually do everything in the house, but whether your a man or woman, you gotta draw the line somewhere. The to-do list can always be endless (at no point in time will everything be clean, fixed, prepared, etc.), so you need to carve out family time or personal space (or your candy apple red enviromentally friendly kegerator).

Balance. Moderation. Not too sexy as ideas go, but what don't they apply to?

Covert grocery store strike missions are extremely complicated and require intensive intelligence briefings pre- and post-trip. The enemy will frequently camouflage necessary targets, relabel foot soldiers, and force one-of-a-kind items underground in hopes of demoralizing the modern male soldier. It is unclear at this time whether the generic mitilia is working hand in hand with the brandname warlords, but neither is an ally...

Posted by: marc | June 16, 2006 12:21 PM

Jacknut One time my wife packed a pink towel in my gymbag as I went off to work and I didn't notice until it was time to take a shower. Boy did I make sure I didn't drop the bar of soap that day.
Rita, If you're miffed about the kitten diddie, this one will probably really get you steamed:
When I walk to the 7-eleven with my kids for a beer run, my 3 year old will run to the back of the store, pick out my favorite beer and hand it to me at the counter. This infuriates my wife, but I'm actually really proud of the little stinker. I reward him with a pat on the head and he gets to pick out his favorite piece of candy.
Now this is the cool part:
The cats walk with us and wait outside the store until we are done.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 16, 2006 12:23 PM

One other thing about the grocery list:

DO NOT assume that just because you have brought home the same type of lettuce for 17 years that we men know that. If you want something specific ASK FOR IT by name. Do not say "laundry detergent" when you mean "Seventh Generation non-petroleum based laundry soap in the 108 wash bottle."

There's a reason why we don't say "beer" when you ask what we want from the store. We say "A six-pack of Guinness draught in the can." We know that if we just say "beer" you'll get to the beer aisle and end up getting something we don't want.

Now some of you women may think we have an obligation to remember that you bring home 1 head of Boston Lettuce and 1 bunch of spinach every week. We men do not have any such obligation. If you attempt to impose that on us, be prepared to learn the statistics for the entire Nationals lineup, complete with WHIP ratios for the minor league pitching staff, in case of an emergency callup.

Posted by: Jacknut | June 16, 2006 12:25 PM

Hey, I have a novel idea. If you don't want to clean the litter box, don't. Maybe get rid of the cat or at least don't bother feeding it. Forget all the small repairs around the house. They're not really needed. Don't take the trash out either.

Here's the deal. Your wife won't do these items either. She also won't cook dinner, wash clothes, clean the house, pay bills or keep track of the kids. This stuff isn't really important.

Hey, Peapod probably could even deliver more beer when the two of you finish the existing stash, so that neither of you will have to exert any effort to go get more.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 12:29 PM

Perry, thanks for your article. I agree with what you said on many points. However, my experience is that Dad's get credit for things that I do all the time.

"What a nice husband for picking up the baby after work!" Um, no one says what a great mom I am when I pick up the baby after work. Or take him for a walk, or run errands with him.

You are right because dad's didn't do this before, that it seems like Superdad now, but if you boil it down, not exactly heroics.

Posted by: New Mom | June 16, 2006 12:29 PM

"If it is "wrong", it is the result of an incomplete list." F o 2

HAHAHAH, so naive.

You should know by now that it is not an issue of accounatbility. That modification of the list was obvious! Pay attention to body language, use that esp - and if in doubt call home and ask! This has been and will be your fault. Wasnt there some previous post where Leslie recounted just such a phone call by a veteran husband surrogate shopper. Crisis defused - but blog ignited.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 12:32 PM

I get to take out the trash and cat poop, do the laundry and the grocery shopping, cook and clean and be the sole support of my child (no child support, ex-hubby left the country). I'm the only person who can stay home with my daughter when she is ill.

And father's day is never fun for a kid whose dad moved to the other side of the world; I'll take her to a movie on Sunday.

So, when you are irritated with your husband/wife not pulling his/her weight, just remember there are those of us who pull all the weight. Try to let the little things slide.

And happy father's day to all the wonderful dads on the board (some of you regulars really make me smile). I hope you are all appreciated and loved.

Posted by: single western mom | June 16, 2006 12:38 PM

To anonymous poster at 12:32pm, I would respond but Jacknut said is so well at 12:25pm.

To Jacknut, I say "AMEN!!!!"

Posted by: Father of 2 | June 16, 2006 12:38 PM

f of 4:
how do you get the cats to wait outside? and my son has trouble discerning between regular guinness and draught...

Posted by: marc | June 16, 2006 12:40 PM

Folding laundry while watching sports is one of the best schemes out there. Supervising the kids at the town pool on Saturday comes in a close second for spectator sports while fulfilling fatherly duties. "She wore an itsy bitsy yellow polka dot..." Man! Do they get younger every year or am I just gettin' old?

Note to self: buy sunglasses and dont stare - it's rude. When staring keep mouth closed so as not to embarass children, set bad example for son and daughters...

Oh God. I have daughters!

Posted by: Pater of 3 | June 16, 2006 12:48 PM

"There's a reason why we don't say "beer" when you ask what we want from the store. We say "A six-pack of Guinness draught in the can." We know that if we just say "beer" you'll get to the beer aisle and end up getting something we don't want."

Ah, but sadly that doesn't always work. I tried that with my former SO; I'd say, "Hey, going to the store -- what do you want?" He'd say, "Beer." I'd reply, "Not specific enough -- what are you in the mood for?" He'd say "Anything". I would then rattle off a few I knew he'd like and he'd say, "Any of those are good." I would then go out and procure a variety from the last list. He'd look at them when I got home and say, "Wow -- this is good... but I'm really in the mood for this other beer. I think I'll go get a growler in a few minutes."

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | June 16, 2006 12:49 PM

CentrevilleMom, I can see why your former SO is "former".

It's a simple thing. If the brand matters, tell the other person. If you don't, deal with the results and don't whine.

If the brand doesn't matter, tell the other person. When you don't like what you got, deal with the results and don't whine.

Posted by: Father of 2 | June 16, 2006 12:52 PM

Father of 3 loved your 8:29 am post. Much as Perry drives me nuts sometimes because he lacks my maternal instincts and obsessive ability to keep the closet door closed so that the cats stay out, I do love that he's a guy. Sure am glad he didn't sign up to be a woman either. Although men drive me crazy at times women sure do too.

And Perry, just to be up front, I'm never taking back the cat poop job. I could get pregnant anytime and cat feces are very dangerous to an unborn baby's health...

Posted by: Leslie | June 16, 2006 1:03 PM

I empathize with the painful angst being expressed by a lot of the women here. My husband is an amazing person, brilliant and intensely hardworking. He runs a small company, and works late into the night solving math problems and handling all the intellectual and management aspects of his team. He also frequently cooks and sees our son to bed with books and play. He takes vital time out from his work to handle issues that arise with daily life. But he does literally nothing around the house without a request. Given his herculean efforts, I feel like a jerk for being upset about this, and indeed my level of upsetness has diminished over time as I have accepted the situation, although tensions surface from time to time, e.g. now following the birth of baby#2. In comparison with what we are both trying to do with our work, I fully appreciate that many of these household things are trivial and annoying, but the fact is that if our lives are to maintain any component of external, rather than mental, aesthetic these things have to be done. Now, I am a university professor, trying to get tenure, supervise the projects of five lab members, get papers written, and write grants. In some sense my deadlines are "softer" than my husband's, and I definitely don't have the physical stamina for work that he does so I am always in bed earlier and do considerably more putzing around (like reading this blog :-)). Still, I am pretty bummed about carrying the sole responsibility for our home life, in all its social, medical and organizational aspects (including all the notes left on doors, boxes from unpacked equipment that will stay exactly where they were opened for years, etc etc), and living with the constant mental buzz that this involves. As many of you know, most of us women can't really switch that off even if we wanted to, so there's some part of this that is a nonnegotiable division of roles. But I really hate, loathe and detest being a nag; it kills me. I keep "lowering the bar": just the trash, I have said, for the past five years; JUST take out the trash on trash day without being reminded. But that has so far never once happened, to my recollection. Dear husband never knows what day of the week it is. It does mystify me that someone can churn out patents and run a company yet not know when it's recycle day. He would probably argue that that's exactly how it is possible.

Ah husbands. We do love, admire and appreciate you. And by gum, single parents, I can't imagine the difficulty of doing this parent and work thing alone. A very sincere happy Father's Day to all of you. Let's keep muddling along as best we can.

Posted by: argh | June 16, 2006 1:07 PM

To my husband, thanks for being a great dad. You show them adventure and risk-taking when I can't let go (fear of hurt children). You give them unconditional love. You work to provide for them. You are honest and reliable. You admit mistakes if you make them. You are a role model for what they should look for in a man before they marry.

To all the other dads, HAPPY FATHERS DAY

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 1:09 PM

To argh,
Your post makes me want to cry, and never get married.

Posted by: Single4Life? | June 16, 2006 1:11 PM

"And Perry, just to be up front, I'm never taking back the cat poop job. I could get pregnant anytime and cat feces are very dangerous to an unborn baby's health..."

I've been snickering at this concept of pregnancy = stability of nitroglycerin. "Look out, man -- one pothole and *BOOM*! Another college savings account to open!" :)

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | June 16, 2006 1:12 PM

Okay, I have another little tidbit my wife and I refer to...

One day a man is out working on the car and finally fixes the brakes/transmission/whatever, he walks inside and sees his wife scrubbing the tub. He says, "Honey, let's go for a quick ride!"

So what happens, well of course the wife gets pissed because he doesn't appreciate her scrubbing the tub and keeping the house cleaned and he gets the brunt of her frustration. All the while he's thinking, geeze I just spent three hours I could be watching football fixing the car so she'll be safe.

Hello, they were both trying to do something for the other, and neither realized it.

So instead of complaining about things, my wife and I just say Car/tub and we step back and look at things a little differently.

BTW wives don't ever tell your husband he cleans the bathroom wrong. Or it will be your job for three years until you come to him nicely and say, "Honey, I don't care how you clean the bathrooms, I just need help. But can I show you a few secrets?"

I can clean a bathroom in 12 minutes without 500 gallons of water now, and yes I was doing it wrong. But who cares when you attack someone in a nagging way.

Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's, and to all the Mom's all I ask is give him some "loving" let him sleep in and appreciate the good he does. Because let's be honest, cars are more important than tubs. :)

Posted by: 3Girls1Wife=2MuchEstrogen | June 16, 2006 1:13 PM

....I remember it was a Fridgidaire. Had one of those long, horizontal chrome handles. We used to keep it in the kitchen. It was like a member of the family. I'm tearing up over here....

Posted by: Beer Fridges Rock | June 16, 2006 1:18 PM

Marc, I don't know why, but the cats seem particuarlly fond of my son that used to chuck them around. We would walk around the block, and the cats would follow. One day, we had to cross rt. 50 and we were afraid the cats would try to cross with us and make road pizza. the kids wanted to go back home, but I promised them if one of them died, I would replace it with a new kitten. We went for it, the cats stayed. They are a little smarter than I thought, the cats i mean, they waited for hours until we crossed over the highway to go back home.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 16, 2006 1:19 PM

My husband cooks. Only makes sense that he shops. Still trying to break him of the notion that *I* should make the grocery list, esp. when he knows how many eggs and the exact quantity of milk remianing. On the other hand, he calls me from the grocery store to ask what I'd like...

He is very good at the "big picture" stuff, but I am the one left to execute the minutiae, schlep the kids, call and deal with contractors, do home repairs, yardwork, etc.

So what can moms and dads do to teach their sons about "getting a clue"? My teenage sons already do lots of chores, generally without grumbling. It's teaching that big picture, coupled with an appreciation for the details, that I'm grappling with. (I want my future DILs to adore me! :*)) One of my kids is going away to a summer program for six weeks, and I hope he gains some common sense and a sense of reality while he's there!

Posted by: Derwood Mom | June 16, 2006 1:19 PM

I think we dads have said many times that we don't expect to be thanked for the things we do that are not noticed. It is just something we do to allow the rest of the household to run more smoothly. That's really what the honey-do list is all about. Do I have to patch the cracks in the wall? No. But the house doesn't look as nice to visitors if it is there. Do I have to change the oil in the car? No. But someone has to eventually or the car will stop and my wife won't be able to leave the neighborhood. And I like to save the $30 on the oil change. Do I have to mow the lawn? No. But the homeowner's association will fine us if I don't and my wife doesn't like our house looking like we are "trash".

I'm the packer. I load the dishwasher, car, freezer, attic, garage, and closets. I get at least a third more stuff in those items than my wife does. I help show her that, no, the printer is not broken. She just pushed this lever up a little so that it is expecting the paper in a different slot. And the reason we get white spots on our clothes is because she is either putting too much softener in the mix or she is putting a fabric sheet onto hot clothes. She claims every appliance in our house is broken in some way or another until I show her how to use it.

Remember we dads are like BASF. We don't think of things the family needs. We help make the things the family needs easier to do.

And to lovedbeingamombut who wants to know if she should get a Father's Day card: YES, you should. Somewhere recently I read about a man who was a single parent and his daughter always gave him a mother's day and father's day card. She missed mother's day one year and it turned out that was the one he was more proud of. You GO, lovedbeingamombut. Happy Father's Day to you!

Posted by: Working Dad | June 16, 2006 1:21 PM

You see, Father of 4 has justed proved what I always KNEW about cats. They are smart. And they are laughing at you for taking out their poop.

Just don't do it, Perry! They'll clean up after themselves when they can't stand the stink any longer. It's a battle of wills, just like on "SuperNanny" (or whatever that show is called).

On the other hand, whose cat is it, Perry? I mean, if it's a "family" cat, did you get it specifically on a child's request? Did Leslie bring it home one day from a neighbor's extras? How old are your kids? Isn't it time they learned cat care?

Hooray for dads! Mine passed when I was 15 and I tend to ignore Father's Day, but I think this year I will thank my mom for carrying on so well after his sudden death and remember all the good things dad did for me and taught me when he was around.

Posted by: JJ | June 16, 2006 1:23 PM

To: Perry & Father of 3 & Father of 4 , you guys are my heroes !! Is there anybody else getting this much entertainment out of this ? All of you who wonder what the TRUTH about life is , download and print out & post on your walls their post and follow themn like commandments and i promise , on my wife and cildrens lives , you will be HAPPY ! If you are already happy , please disregard ...

Posted by: shoreman | June 16, 2006 1:26 PM

Many of the women on this blog are kind and thoughtful. But for some reason there are a whole lot shrews here who are filled with hate and bile.

Please do your husband a favor: Leave. Get a divorce. Whatever, just go away. He doesn't deserve this b.s.

And if you're too spiteful to do it for him (and some of the comments make it sound like you are), then think of it as a gift for yourself.

After all, why would you want to stay with a person that is so vile?

Sheesh.

Posted by: Sickened Husband | June 16, 2006 1:26 PM

"We work long hours, longer than any previous generation of fathers." What historian gave him that lie, or should I more accurately call it bs?! Or does this statement mark the beginning of his dramatization of how underappreciated he is? I guess by calling himself clueless, he was trying to exhibit humility- however false it may be. Hopefully, he will one day realize that no one on this planet gets a parade every single day that they do what they normally do on a regular basis- man, woman, or child. And this hardly means that they are not appreciated. You don't buy a diamond ring for your wife every time she cooks dinner, but that doesn't mean you don't enjoy eating. Oh, and I was not going to let go unnoticed the statement in the beginning that describes a wife's most salient function. Thanks.

Posted by: dcp | June 16, 2006 1:28 PM

Please forgive the grammar in last post , combination of clueless & beer ....

Posted by: shoreman | June 16, 2006 1:29 PM

Woa, "dep"! I totally missed that! And I think Perry was listing things he's not getting enough of.

Posted by: JJ | June 16, 2006 1:30 PM

How fascinating that "Sickened Husband" was followed by "dcp" by way of example. So glad to not be married to the mean crazy lady.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 1:33 PM

Thanks, Perry. It's nice to see an alternate viewpoint on here every once in a while that I don't have to dig through the comments to find. I'll say that I agree with the sentiment behind a lot of what you said.

I'm the primary breadwinner in our house too. My wife does some contract work about 1 day a week, and it's pretty much enough to pay for day care, which allows her to both work once in a while and have a day at home without the Peanut so she can get some things done. My job is about an hour away from home, so my days are pretty long, and when I get home I'm often tired and just want to crash in front of the computer or the TV, spend some time with my daughter, and generally relax before I go to bed to get up and do it all over again the next day.

It's not that I don't appreciate that being home with her all day is not relaxing for my wife. It's not that I don't understand that there's a lot of housework to be done and she's working on it as much as she can. It's just that when I come home at the end of the day and see the dishes in the sink, it's hard for me to get up the motivation to take care of them. And then I feel guilty about not doing more of the housework, even though I'm the one out all day making sure we can pay for the house, cars, food, etc.. It's not like I don't do anything around the house, either. I take out the trash, I fix all the little things that break, I do the dishes (some of the time), I trim the yard (she mows). I also built the deck and shed, installed the hardwood floors, and am installing tile in some of the other rooms.

So yeah, I'd like a little praise for doing the things that should be done anyways. Thank me for taking out the trash. You think that I'm asking too much to be thanked for these things? Well let me tell you something. Most men function on praise. If you praise a man for doing the small things, they're much more likely to do them over and over, and it makes us feel good and it makes us want to do more things. It's how we're wired. Want us to try and understand you a little more? Try understanding us. And yes, I praise my wife for all the small things as well, as much as I can remember to. And when she tells me that she doesn't like the particular wording I used to ask her something, I try to remember that for next time.

Posted by: Todd | June 16, 2006 1:34 PM

It's interesting that Perry wrote about how shocked he was/is about the level of anxiety he perceives in the women in his life. I think a lot of this anxiety is self-imposed. But where does it come from ? And why are men more or less immune? Have things always been this way? Or is it a new phenomenon?

When I worked at my one and only office job I became uptight about EVERYTHING. I had great amounts of freedom, opportunity to be creative, respect and support at this job. Yet I remember returning home from business trips or a tough day at the office and feeling compelled to rip into my husband about housekeeping stuff or whatever. I've relaxed quite a bit since leaving that job. Maybe I was unhappy there (although I didn't realize it at the time). I think there's something about contemporary office work that's deadening and frustrating even if it's well compensated. Maybe that's where some women's anxiety is coming from.

Posted by: Friend | June 16, 2006 1:35 PM

PERRY , PERRY , PERRY !!!!!!

PERRY FOR PRESIDENT

FATHER OF 3 FOR VP

FATHER OF 4 SEC. OF STATE

Posted by: shoreman | June 16, 2006 1:38 PM

Hey guys! I have a used kegorator just sitting in my basement not being used any longer. Anyone need it for their cave?

Posted by: Another Single Mom | June 16, 2006 1:44 PM

No wonder the divorce rate is so high in this country. I've skimmed the blogs and found a running theme "Look at all of the things I do and my spouse doesn't." "Look at me, see how much is on my shoulders?" When I find myself falling into this trap (ok, I do get tired of doing the dishes everynight at 10pm after everyone is in bed, after putting in a 9hour day at work with a 2 hour commute, making dinner, putting the kids to bed) BUT, my husband is awesome -- its just the lifestyle we lead with the enormous amount of stress in my opinion on our lives to just keep up. I shop, clean the house, do the finances, the laundry, schedule appointments, take care of the car issues, do get the kids on their merry way but my husband works 60 hours a week, is working on his dissertation, makes our yard look fabulous, is redoing several rooms in the house himself, makes repairs spends a lot of time with the kids and is an all around great guy and keeps me from getting too stressed, which I am because I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders (I think most women do -- its just in their nature -- my husband has a different view of the world). Some weeks I feel like I do more but other weeks he has the load on him. Yes, I do have to ask him to do things but I knew that when I met him.

It all evens out in the wash. The only thing I would say is that couples have to do a much better job of complimenting each other on just the mundane, day to day activities. I think just a "hey, thanks for taking the baby last night so I could sleep" is much better than saying "well that's terrific you stayed up with the baby for 1 night out of three months" in a sarcastic tone.

My coworker's wife died suddenly recently. She was 47, leaving him with 3 kids. Don't sweat these things -- appreciate your spouse's attributes. They could be gone tomorrow

HAPPY FATHER's DAY my husband of almost 13 years! You are the best!

Posted by: typical working mother | June 16, 2006 1:46 PM

I would like to join with the others who have raised their glasses (or steins, I suppose would be more accurate) in salute to all you dads out there. Whether you're the breadwinner, the SAHD, the coach, the bake sale-type, the contributor, the homework checker, the story reader, or whatever else, you are appreciated. Have a great Sunday, guys. :)

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | June 16, 2006 1:51 PM

I forgot to say HAPPY FATHER DAY to all the fathers that post here. I enjoy your comments and find them a good way to "understand" men -- sometimes I don't understand my own husband but men and women seem to have differing views of the world sometimes. A friend told me one time to "look in the mirror" before criticizing because inevitably you are going to make the same mistake. I yelled at my husband the other day because I thought he had not turned off the bathtub spicket properly and it was dripping. He correctly pointed out that I was the last one to use it. So there. Unfortunately I think he got great pleasure out of the situation:)

Posted by: typical working mother | June 16, 2006 1:53 PM

Another Single Mom and Curious New Mom -

You are setting the bar way too low for dads out there! Part of being a wonderful father IS helping take care of the household too. Drives me crazy when women think it's soooo wonderful if a dad knows his kids' names and takes them to the zoo on his own once a month or coaches their soccer team (one hour per week). Moms are expected to do it all without thanks. Dads expect a medal for just showing up in their kids' lives occasionally. Come on!

And to all the single moms -- single moms raise great kids, especially guys, very sympathetic to working moms.

Posted by: Leslie | June 16, 2006 1:54 PM

For all you couples that share the dishwashing chore, this is another trick I learned from the wife to make it easier on yourself:
Put the largest dishes in first, like the large plastic bowl and sausepan. Arange them in the worst possible way allowing for maximum empty space. Ignore all the small stuff like cereal bowls, cups and plates, just leave them in the sink. This should take no more than 2 minutes. Put the soap in, close the door. If your spouse complains about the crass inefficiency of your loading method, get angry, stomp around, complain about how you are unappreciated, and hand the job off to your partner because he/she can do it so much better. If you push the button before your spouse notices what a lousey job you've done, great! Next time the chore goes around, say in a loud, confident voice, "I did the dishes the last time! It's your turn!"
Hope this helps.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 16, 2006 1:55 PM

"The truth is that a lot of men don't struggle with the same work-home balance issues that moms face, and we don't understand or relate to most of it . . . . I was shocked by . . . the never-ending anxiety. Shocked by the extreme highs and lows and frustration and resentment on all sides of the table. Generally, just shocked."

Maybe that explains why my husband didn't support my wanting to sell our single-family home in exchange for a townhome so I could stay home when we had children, or why I was hysterical when my daughter's first steps were taken at day care. Since he missed her first steps also, and didn't mind, he couldn't understand why I minded. Is it a biological difference? Or is it because men are conditioned to think of themselves as the breadwinner (albeit, much to my chagrin, they don't always want to be the sole breadwinner), whereas the women, even those who went to college and professional school under the assumption that they would be career women, deep down inside feel like they should be entitled to stay home and watch their children go if they choose and their finances would allow it? And feel that if their children suffer because they work, it's their fault?

By the way, it sounds to me like you're a great Dad and husband.

I got my husband to clean the cat box during my combined 18 months of pregnancy, but since then it's whoever gets home first (and we don't really change the litter as much as we should . . . .)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 2:07 PM

How to get hubby to tackle that mountain of dishes that needs to go into the dishwasher?

1. Raid his porn stash
2. Spread individual pages of porn throughout sink
3. DO NOT TAKE CHILDREN OUT OF THE HOUSE!!!

Posted by: June | June 16, 2006 2:12 PM

singel4life and typical working mother: being single was sure fun, but I wouldn't exchange the freedom and simplicity of my former life for the profound satisfaction of the companionship of my husband and our lovely son (#2 is too young to call but we are hopeful). We wanted a partnership of working people, plus kids, that we both spend time with together for at least several hours a day, plus a nice house, plus travel, plus, .. etc, and are trying to do it all without the support of nearby grandparents or a staff. This is probably unrealistic. Many people with either of our careers have a spouse who provides more support, or help from the extended family, or an au pair, and no doubt this is the better answer than getting cross with each other for not quite pulling it all off.

Posted by: argh | June 16, 2006 2:14 PM

I'm the one who wrote the post about wanting to downsize so I could stay home with my kids. I forgot to mention that, even though I've had negative feelings over not being able to do so, the balancing has been made easier by the fact that my husband is a wonderful dad who easily does his share or more of the chores, taking the kids to the doctors if my work schedule won't allow me to take off, etc. Don't want to be unfair on Father's Day!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 2:19 PM

JJ, Those cats seem harmless and all, but you don't wanna forsake their litter. Trust me. Perry is doing himself and the whole family a favor by taking out the litter!

I get a fair amount of the "oh, what a great dad you are... " because I dropped my son off at preschool or took him to a playgroup or some such other common activity that every mom across the globe does on a daily basis. I take it less as a compliment and more as an indication that the woman saying it is either not used to seeing an involved dad or is seeing something she wishes her husband would do.
Kudos to everyone out there giving time, attention, and love to their children and families. Happy Father's Day to all the dads!

Posted by: marc | June 16, 2006 2:26 PM

No, Leslie, I'm not setting the bar way too low for dads. I said very little about what I think it means to be a good dad, so I'd appreciate you not put words in my mouth. I'm quite certain that nothing I said suggested in any way, shape or form that a man is a good father if he only "knows his kids' names and takes them to the zoo on his own once a month or coaches their soccer team (one hour per week)." I did say that it shouldn't matter whether they know how to properly shop for groceries, load the dishwasher and do the laundry. And, quite frankly, I stand by that statement.

Posted by: Another Single Mom | June 16, 2006 2:31 PM

To Centerville Mom, who wrote: "Ah, but sadly that doesn't always work. I tried that with my former SO; I'd say, "Hey, going to the store -- what do you want?" He'd say, "Beer." I'd reply, "Not specific enough -- what are you in the mood for?" He'd say "Anything". I would then rattle off a few I knew he'd like and he'd say, "Any of those are good." I would then go out and procure a variety from the last list. He'd look at them when I got home and say, "Wow -- this is good... but I'm really in the mood for this other beer. I think I'll go get a growler in a few minutes." "

I'm glad he a former.

To all you single ladies and non-traditionally inclined men out there: NEVER date a man who can't decide what type of beer he wants. Those types of men are usually pretty wimpy sorts who faint at the first sight of a poopy diaper.

Man, I should apply for Carolyn Hax's job. :)

Posted by: Jacknut | June 16, 2006 2:35 PM

I am a little skepticle on the concept of complementing your partner for doing housework. It seems to be very gender specific. For instance, this is good advice for women:
If you have one of those plant-watering, apron wearing, table-wiping, booboo kissing, piggy counting, stove jockeying husbands like myself, When you see him mopping the floor, a great compliment would be something like this: "Hey baby! I like the way you handle that stick!" He will really dig it. It will remind him about the benefits of getting whipped into girliman status ain't all that bad.
Another one would be, when he's giving the rug the old back and forth with the Hoover-Vac, "Why don't you come over my way and sweep me off my feet?" Guys just love this kind of talk.
Warning for men! Warning for men! This kind of compliment is very gender specific and doesn't work for women! Do not try this at home! For instance, when you catch your wife on all fours, bent over with her wiggling butt in the air as she scrubs the kitchen floor, this is the time to excersize your constitutional right to remain silent. Anything you say can be, and will be held against you. Don't even snicker, this is the worst and if you can't hold in your laughter try to turn it into a coughing fit and run for the bathroom to get a drink of water. Trust me on this one or you might find yourself wearing a bucket of nasty, soapy water as you visit the apolligy shop to buy a dozen roses and a nice gift.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 16, 2006 2:38 PM

ALL adults should know how to do laundry; "proper" grocery shopping is subjective...and loading the dishwasher was actually the subject of a column in the Arizona Republic this week: www.azcentral.com/news/columns/articles/0615clay0615.html.

Not a gender specific list, really...just qualities of being a grown-up.

Posted by: single western mom | June 16, 2006 2:40 PM


It would be nice if we could have these discussions without such awful generalizations (in this case -- ``you took out the trash and you want a MEDAL???'') But alas, it is not to be.

Whoever it was that spoke about taking our partners for granted was spot on. We are all guilty of it, consciously and unconsciously.

My story: It wasn't planned this way, but somehow we ended up in the stereotypical mode of I-go-to-work and wife-stays-home-with-the-kids. And I recognize our lives in many of the postings above. Allow me to put things into a little perspective...

Our situation is an accident. We always agreed one of us would stay home when we had kids. As it happened, wife had quit work to start her own business when we found out she was pregnant. Since I was the one with the regular check and excellent benefits, I became the bread-winner and she tried to do the run-your-own-business-with-an-infant thing. (As most people who've tried it can attest, that didn't work out very well).

So, here we are, with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. I go to work every day, wife stays home. Her income potential used to be about the same as mine; it's probably a bit less now for a variety of reasons, however I would HAPPILY trade places with her, and in fact it would probably be better financially for our family as the kind of freelance work (writing) I would do I could more easily supplement the family income than the kind of work she does (client work). Simply put if she could replicate my income and benefits, I'd trade in a heartbeat.

That said, this is what we live with today.

It's frustrating at times.

I'm not asking for medals here. Instead, this is a recitation of the facts:

I get up with the kids at 0600. I feed them, dress them, play with them. Most days I'm late for work because my wife is still in bed when I need to go. I *also* get up early EVERY WEEKEND. Both days. Don't construe this as complaining -- with the rare exception (everyone is entitled to sleep in once in a blue moon), it works out well.

I *also* take the night shift. I bathe them, get them in PJs, read to them, tuck them in. And then, usually, after they are in bed, I'm the one cleaning the house that hasn't been picked up at all during the course of the day. This I usually complain about -- I, frankly, find it a little ridiculous to be cleaning up my wife's eggshells from breakfast and bussing dishes from my wife's night stand at 10 o'clock at night. But it has to be done; I do it. And, no, I don't expect a medal. I would, however, appreciate a modicum of effort by my wife and kids to pick up after themselves at least a little during the day, but perhaps the kids are too young for that yet (although I think the 3-year-old is old enough to grasp that).

I do the usual stuff, too, that husbands ``do'' -- the trash, the lawn, the cars, a large amoung of the grocery shopping. I also clean bathrooms, vacuum, sweep dust bunnies from under sideboards, cook dinner (about a quarter of the time -- I always make breakfast for the kids). It's just stuff I DO. I had to sit here and think about it -- I don't walk around with a list in my head. I see it, it gets done, end of story.

What ticks me off is being corrected when I'm not doing something her way, being summoned to the bedroom from four rooms away when she wants to intervene between me and a temper tantrum-throwing toddler, and otherwise denigration of my contributions to the family (rarely) by her and (commonly) by catty women who've decided that husbands can do no right, no matter what.

Posted by: Dad of kids from A-Z | June 16, 2006 2:48 PM

"...when I get home I'm often tired and just want to crash in front of the computer or the TV, spend some time with my daughter, and generally relax..."

Maybe your wife is unhappy because apparently spending time with her is not of your list of things you want to do when you get home.

I've seen this with young parents and it often leads to a splitting of the relationship that sometimes is never repaired. It's great that a husband sees she needs some time off from taking care of the kids, and that the husband will thus spend a bit of time with the kid(s), but if there's no desire to come home, chat with your wife, have a meal or watch a movie together, then you're not building your relationship. Sometimes when a mom is tired of dealing with a child all day, what she really wants is attention from you.

Posted by: JJ | June 16, 2006 2:53 PM

"Maybe your wife is unhappy because apparently spending time with her is not of your list of things you want to do when you get home."

Obviously, JJ, you know me so well. That list was obviously the totality of what I want to do every single evening, and there is never a deviation from it or something I didn't mention because it wasn't salient to the rest of the post. And of course you know to a certainty that my wife is not sitting next to me for just about all of the evening.

And of course, you know that my wife is unhappy even though I didn't mention that anywhere in my post.

Go play armchair psychologist somewhere else.

Posted by: Todd | June 16, 2006 2:59 PM

Dad of Kids, I'm sorry that you're in that situation. Sometimes it IS the mom who doesn't do her fair share. My former boyfriend had much the same life and he had 3 kids. He not only was the sole breadwinner, he did all of the household chores and cooked meals every night. Why? Because it wouldn't have gotten done otherwise. Basically, his wife spent her days reading and letting the kids run riot (they were never told to pick up after themselves). The oldest son is in college now and he told me that his dad's description was completely true. Their mom rarely did anything around the house and simply said that keeping up with the kids every day wore her out and she couldn't be expected to clean up every day because they just made a mess all over again.

He was a really good dad and was so sorry to break up his marriage because of how it hurt his kids, but would you want to live with someone who did nothing to help make a decent home?

Posted by: LoganCircle | June 16, 2006 3:01 PM

Oh Todd, I must have struck a nerve. I was using your statement to make a wider point.

Posted by: JJ | June 16, 2006 3:03 PM

Dear Argh,

Our lives sound very similar! I wouldn't trade my husband and 2 boys for anything in the world. And, like you, I have no support "system" or staff near me either.

Posted by: typical working mother | June 16, 2006 3:07 PM

Todd, I think you overreacted. I didn't see JJ's comment as anything like the personal attack that you seem to have seen in it.

Posted by: THS | June 16, 2006 3:09 PM

Next time, JJ, make your "wider point" without referring to my wife, or what I want to do when I get home.

Struck a nerve? Yes, the one that twangs every time someone tries to tell me something about my life when they obviously know nothing about it.

Posted by: Todd | June 16, 2006 3:09 PM

When Leslie asked me to write something for the blog, I was hesitant to do it for a lot of reasons - mostly around privacy and getting skewered. But given how much public exposure the blog has already had, I figured what the heck. Why not clue in on my side of the story.

Well, now I have a taste of what Leslie feels every day with the blog. I've read ALL of the comments at this time, and I'm amazed by many of them. There are definitely highs and lows. Thanks for the honesty on your own lives and personal situations. I've been skewered by some, but also have found comraderie with many that identify or have gained some insight from my posting. This has been fascinating. I think most of us try to be better people all the time - better husbands, wives, dads, moms... I know I'm always trying to chip away at being less clueless, and sometimes I'm successful, but sometimes I'm not. One closing thought - I do all of the grocery shopping (even though it's on-line, I think it still counts) and I also clean up dog poop!

See you next Fathers' Day.

Posted by: Perry | June 16, 2006 3:12 PM

All I have to say that it is hard to be parents of small children, whether you are a man or a woman. All this tit for tat will get you nowhere good pretty darn fast. I know it because I was there with my husband once upon a time. You don't appreciate how hard I work was the mantra that was heard on both sides. He did not see how many dishes I washed and I did not notice how many lawns he mowed or faucets he fixed or cars he washed. Finally, we stopped bickering and realized both of us were working hard, and both of us were working in good faith. The trick is to say thank you to each other often, to not expect things to be perfect, to order pizza when you run out of food and forgo telling the other person where they screwed up, because believe me, we all screw up. Right now, my house has not been vacumed in two weeks, but I straighted up a bit yesterday. The trash was pretty full this morning, but I know my husband will notice it by today. When we get home tonight, we probably will not mow the lawn or dust the furniture. We may opt to go to the pool for a couple of hours and then watch a movie after the kids are asleep. How worth it is it to fight about who does more when you could be spending that time with each other loafing instead.

Posted by: Rockville | June 16, 2006 3:19 PM

Settle down Todd, JJ got your number on a stupid blog, deal with it.

Posted by: clownboy | June 16, 2006 3:21 PM

Well, now, if you'd mentioned grocery shopping and dog poop before, you probably could have saved yourself some serious heartache. :-) And I give full brownie points for on-line groceries -- doesn't matter how it gets done, as long as it gets done. Happy Fathers' Day.

Posted by: Laura | June 16, 2006 3:23 PM

For instance, when you catch your wife on all fours, bent over with her wiggling butt in the air as she scrubs the kitchen floor, this is the time to excersize your constitutional right to remain silent. Anything you say can be, and will be held against you. Don't even snicker, this is the worst and if you can't hold in your laughter try to turn it into a coughing fit and run for the bathroom to get a drink of water. Trust me on this one or you might find yourself wearing a bucket of nasty, soapy water as you visit the apolligy shop to buy a dozen roses and a nice gift.


Father of 4, you are so right about this one. My husband has made this very mistake and did not understand what he did wrong at all. By the way, I love the way you write!!!

Posted by: Rockville | June 16, 2006 3:27 PM

People need to teach their pets how to use the TOILET! Just fasten a screen to a frame and place it under the closed toilet seat. Put a little bit of non-clumpable litter on it, then put the cat there. No, they won't flush the toilet, but will PEE there.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 3:27 PM

But then the dog can't get a drink.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 3:28 PM

yes, he can....from the kegerator

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 3:29 PM

One thing that really kills me is when I need to go to the store for cat food AND litter!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 3:31 PM

Father of 4 is absolutely right. But guys, if it is your job to take out the garbage and your wife does it one day, it would behoove you to thank her and give her a big hug while you're at it.

Posted by: Working Dad | June 16, 2006 3:32 PM

I think Perry has a huge point when he talks about the burden of being the primary breadwinner. Perhaps it isn't as true now as it was for our parents but the sense of responsibility to care for the family is innate as well as the angst about being able to do it well.

Oh please. The burden of being the primary breadwinner is bs. I am the primary (only) breadwinner, and I went this route because it is a heck of a lot easier than being the primary (only) butt-wiper, cook, maid, gardener, you name it at home. My husband does most of the rest of the stuff, and by the looks of our house, you would probably think he does a lousy job, but shoot, he does it and I don't have to, so I am happy to sit in meetings with a bunch of suits all day. At least I get to go home and leave them behind.

Posted by: Rockville | June 16, 2006 3:40 PM

Father of 4, have you ever thought of becoming a "cat whisperer"?

Posted by: JJ | June 16, 2006 3:45 PM

Your cat can help you clean the toilet:
1. Lift up seat.
2. Sprinkle in the Comet.
3. Get cat.
4. Prop front door open. (I know this step doesn't make much sense yet, but read on)
5. Open bathroom door.
6. Throw the cat in and put the seat down - quickly!
7. Immediately sit on cover seat. Stay there for 2 minutes, 3 minutes for extra buff.
8. Flush
9. Stand back! Way back! On top of tank is good.
10. Lift up seat. Tada! done!
Your cat can do more than you think!

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 16, 2006 3:49 PM

Watch out, Father of 4, Rita is going to call the humane society on you. But I like your idea.

Posted by: Rockville | June 16, 2006 3:51 PM

The claws are great for removing those stubborn water stains and mineral deposits.

If you CLOSE the door, you can get the whole bathroom clean, but you may need serious first aid afterwards.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 3:55 PM

WHY WOMEN GET A BAD RAP FOR BEING A NAG

Gotta laugh at these things. Little story from lunch time today.

Pick up husband for lunch.

Him--"Honey, so-and-so called me and asked me to golf in the morning. Should I go?"

Me-Sure, it's up to you.

Him-But I could get landscaping done if I don't go.

Me-That would be cool, but do what you want.

Him-I guess I'd rather landscape.

(Dials friend-says to me while it's ringing--"Just go with my excuse--I've already thought about it")

Him (on message to friend) - Hey man, my wife wants me to do yardwork tomorrow so I'll have to pass.

Couldn't hardly believe it!

Posted by: too funny | June 16, 2006 3:55 PM

This guy is truly clueless, alright, playing right into mom's hands. According to she and he, she has it the toughest, the hardest job, the most to do, has to do the thinking, the planning, the organizing. PU-LEASE. Men, grow a pair, stop giving away all your power to the women. They just have brainwashed most of you into thinking "she is all that". This is not Mothers Day, you knuckleheads, it's Father's Day, not the day to go along with mom's and kid's dim view of us.

Posted by: SGA | June 16, 2006 3:59 PM

I have a similar story about my boss who is marred and has 2 little kids. We were planning a happy hour one Friday because someone was leaving for another job. Asked boss to join us. He said it was a really good idea and called his wife on his cell to tell her he would be home late.

Him: Hi Honey, I'm going to be a little late tonight. Taking Jim out for a beer with the gang cuz it's his last day.

Cell phone: could hear some shrieking and yelling.

Him: Okay, okay. Hangs up. Guys, sorry, I can't go because my kid is sick.

Posted by: Funny | June 16, 2006 4:02 PM

What are you talking about SGA?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 4:03 PM

Rockville, you make me laugh.
JJ, I don't know what a "cat whisperer" is, probably because I'm clueless.
Megan, Scarry, you hurt me by not showing up today. It's not like you hurt me, I just feel bad, that's all.
I posted too much today, and now I'm going to shut up for a while. Actually, it's quitting time at work and when I get home it's kids, kids, kids, cook dinner and do dishes. I had a lot of fun today! And now its the weekend! WooHoo! Happy Father's Day everybody!

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 16, 2006 4:11 PM

Father of Four,
You are on fire today!! When is your first book coming out?!?!?

Posted by: Derwood Mom | June 16, 2006 4:12 PM

Mom's and dad's different view of the world.

6 AM: 8-month-old wakes up with 102+ fever. Mom: panic mode -- make dad call nurse line, dose up on Motrin, anxiously await call for dr's appt., worry worry worry; meanwhile, kid naps and fever breaks (breathe). If the kitchen had room for a beer fridge, I'd get you one.

Noon: Dad races home after AM presentation so mom can go do conference call. Kid is happily eating cheerios and laughing and playing.

Dad: "How's he doing? If he's better, I was going to throw him in the truck and go to Home Depot."

Mom: WHAT?!?!?!?! How can you not be panicking???? He had a FEVER!!

Realization: Umm, wait a minute -- he's right. Kid's fine and happy; sometimes, mom just needs a kick to realize that and come down off the ledge. And did I mention taking half the day for sick kid duty, without even asking if it was necessary? Happy Fathers' Day, hon.

Posted by: Laura | June 16, 2006 4:18 PM

Fatherhood without forgetting to be a good husband sure is alot of fun. To all those who have posted how they'll NEVER get married/have kids after reading this blog have to realize that alot of us vent here. Sometimes through humor (my favorite way) and sometimes through venom. "Better out than in!" I always say. Or was it "Better to be in the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in?"

And to Funny: I emphasize that I am marred too! Funny things happen when you hit that submit button.

Fo4, I was crying I laughed so hard when I read about the cat assisted sani-flush.

Hey Perry, What's with cleanin' up the dog dirt? Do you have to hike up that hoop skirt to get it out of the way of the pooper scooper? Dontcha know that its supposed to stay there? That dog is markin' his territory and your changing the natural order of things. Besides its good fartilizer!

Come out people somebody be mean to Perry! We can't let Leslie have all the fun.

Posted by: Pere de trois | June 16, 2006 4:24 PM

Yeah, I'm marred too. Freud always said that nothing is an accident.

Posted by: funny | June 16, 2006 4:31 PM

Hurray for fathers who choose to be parents. It's wonderful to have involved parents who actually know their kids and their kids' lives, and enjoy spending time with them. What a difference you make. Thank you.


Posted by: Columbia | June 16, 2006 4:37 PM

I don't think I'm setting the bar too low for men. I'm just very conscious of the fact the we women get to decide which male genes get passed on to the next generation. It's a very cool and important responsibility that we have!

Often it's pretty clear who is going to be an involved husband and dad, and who is going to be the breadwinner-only type. Sometimes you guess wrong about these things, which is unlucky. (Unluckiest of all is getting neither, of course!) But, really, sometimes it is quite obvious. If he shows his love for you by taking you out to fancy dinners and buying you a big rock of a ring, but regularly works late and doesn't get to know your family and friends, which kind of husband/dad is he going to be? I then tire of listening to women complain about these men, as if they are mystified to discover that their husbands don't do a personality 180 once there were kids.

I do think this might be the first time I've ever been accused of setting the bar too low for men, though!

Posted by: curious new mom | June 16, 2006 5:00 PM

"however I would HAPPILY trade places with her, and in fact it would probably be better financially for our family as the kind of freelance work (writing) I would do I could more easily supplement the family income than the kind of work she does (client work). Simply put if she could replicate my income and benefits, I'd trade in a heartbeat."

With all due respect, I've been hearing this one from co-workers and other men for the past 20 years. It doesn't hold water.
Even in some families where the men earn less, the wife often is the one who stays home with the kids.

Most men (not all) would die of the boredom, repetition, or whatever, of staying home all day with small kids.

I'm sure you and your wife have a great arrangement, but if you were truly serious about trading places, you would simply do it.

I understand that circumstances led her to staying home...and that you were caught off guard by her pregnancy, but honestly, I highly doubt you would have stayed home, if she had had the better job. Most men (not all) cannot overcome their internal barriers to doing so, much less the external ones.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 5:38 PM

Most men (not all) would die of the boredom, repetition, or whatever, of staying home all day with small kids.

Yeah, maybe. And lots of women, no matter what the practicalities, want their man to be the man and make the money so that they (the women) can stay home. We are all very much still wrapped up in the stereotype that a man is not a man unless he supports his family by working at a job, and that a woman is somehow being taken advantage of by her husband if he is the one staying at home and raising the kids. Luckily, my husband and I are not that way. We both get that I have the personality for working outside the home, and he has the patience for staying at home and being Mr. Mom. Plus, I make more and get better benefits than he did, so it just makes sense, though I sometimes get the feeling it makes others (including his family and mine) a little uncomfortable, but who cares? We just live our lives and don't worry about stereotypes or what other people think, as long as our plan works for us.

Posted by: Rockvillle | June 16, 2006 5:55 PM

When will you people mature, and realize that you have to always give 100%?
This means that you are accountable to yourself. You can honestly judge if you are always giving 100 percent to your relationship and family.
If you try to keep score, you will always feel slighted.
If you don't marry someone who also gives 100%, it is your own fault.

Posted by: 100 Percenter | June 16, 2006 6:29 PM

>>

Now June, that's half your problem -- you assume too much and you generalize.

For the record, I DID the stay-at-home dad thing for four months after my second was born. Long story involving cancer diagnosis in wife during pregnancy, but it was an eye-opening experience to be the primary care-giver for as long as I was. That's when I knew I *could* do it and *would* do it. So, please take your generalizations elsewhere. I *will* say this: If you think stay-at-home moms feel marginalized, realize that they at least have a network of other stay-at-home moms (through MOMS club or what not), but stay-at-home dads are TRULY isolated. Except for the women who lived on my street, no woman wanted to even TALK to me at the playground, etc. when I was looking after my 2-year-old and newborn. This persists to this day when I take the kids by myself to the pool or what not. It's a fascinating experience. I know one full-time stay-at-home Dad and he confirmed what I witnessed in a four-month period. Stay-at-home dads get absolutely ZERO respect.

That said, staying at home with the kids would actually be ideal for me. As they get older I could freelance books (I'm a widely published writer, but not books) and articles. My wife is a professional but her skills don't translate as well to the short-term market. So, yes, your protestations aside, I absolutely WOULD choose to stay home with the kids. Please don't generalize.


Posted by: Dad with Kids A-Z | June 16, 2006 7:17 PM

June --

I will say this. It would be interesting to see what happens in the care-giving department if women's salaries ever achieve parity with men's...

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 7:23 PM

Argh, I could have written your post.

I love my husband completely and he's a fantastic partner, except for that stuff. He's also a fantastic dad.

Being a great dad is not about getting the chores done. neither is being a great mom. I wish we could all learn that.

Posted by: Also there argh | June 16, 2006 7:32 PM

Guess all the dads are home now bathing kiddies, reading stories and ogling their wives (or perhaps firing up the kegerator)

Posted by: PlannerGuy | June 16, 2006 8:51 PM

no posts since before 9:oo , I guess we're all good parents after all ... except for those of you at the bar !

In the Den , wife and kids asleep.

Posted by: shoreman | June 16, 2006 11:25 PM

"I would, however, appreciate a modicum of effort by my wife and kids to pick up after themselves at least a little during the day, but perhaps the kids are too young for that yet (although I think the 3-year-old is old enough to grasp that)."

I don't know your standards of cleanliness, so it's hard to gauge how bad the situation really is...all I can say is that a lot of people don't realize the repetitive nature of the work while done at home. Potty training, diaper changing, meals for little ones. When my kids were smaller, I would sometimes have to clean the kitchen four or five times a day.

Try putting kids down for naps, or even getting a few minutes to sit and rest or daydream. That constant feeling of being on call and available can be quite stressful for some mothers.


And then there's the unexpected trials and tribulations. Hot oatmeal spilling into shag carpeting (previous owners had carpeted the kitchen!) Or having to protect the computer from upstairs bathroom as it flooded through the ceiling down below (and then run to the hardware store to buy a hand operated snake for the toilet because it saves to try it yourself before calling a plumber).

When my husband comes home, often it's either difficult or not worth explaining all of these misadventures. And, I usually didn't complain when my little girl had some sort of bug and threw up for nearly three days while Daddy went away for the weekend to a sporting event. (He deserved the break, but still it was not easy).

A lot of marriages really suffer when kids are small. You both feel unappreciated. It's possible your wife is depressed and isolated. You need to be her friend, and even if she's keeping score, you can re-frame the relationship so that she feels valued and loved.

It's difficult being home all day, and while there are some relaxing days, I would guess with the ages of your kids, your wife's needs come last.

I'm only guessing that she's overwhelmed and maybe unable to accomplish everything you think she ought to do. She may be feeling guilty and embarrassed, I don't know.

Butif you resent her for it, you won't get more of what you want. You'll get less.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2006 11:52 PM

"My siblings and I all are in our thirties now, but we have fond memories of folding laundry with our dad while watching basketball games on TV"

Oh, this brings back a funny memory. Let's just say my father was not fond of some of the changes when my SAHM returned to work. She also took up bridge. I remember one evening, around 1979, when Mom was out with her bridge group, and Dad had no clean laundry (my mother pretty much did all of his, but we kids learned to do ours for the most part).

I remember Dad going to the store to buy new socks and underwear so he wouldn't have to do the wash. The Dad prerogative. A simple solution.

I think it was the application of the philosophy of "Don't complain, don't explain."

How I miss him!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 17, 2006 12:02 AM

I like the concept of sharing the chores equally. When my wife puts out 20 minutes in the bedroom, I have no problem giving her 20 minutes in the kitchen...., just let me finish my nap first!

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 18, 2006 5:12 AM

We have made a huge transition in one generation -- from a world of many SAHMs (at least in middle & upper middle class families) to one in which many parents work at least part-time, sometimes at home.
I think that one focus should be on teaching our children how to do chores.
My husband does a lot more than my father did & is a devoted, loving dad.

I have been amazed over the years to realize that one problem is that his mother (a working mom with a Ph.D.) has very low expectations of her son's fathering & domestic abilities. When I left for a four day business trip, she asked, what would our children be eating for dinner? I told her that I was sure that he would be able to feed them -- he can make pasta, fish, barbacue & he is also really good at taking our children to restaurants.
I also vividly remember coming to her house with 2 children, one in a messy diaper, and her asking me to set the table. I told her that her son could set the table. She didn't believe that he (a man with a graduate degree) could set the table! So she did it herself while I focused on changing the baby.

Thus, I think we need to appreciate our husbands, treasure our marriages, and raise our children to do better.

Personally, as a child of an unhappy marriage, I think it is much better to tolerate a little dirt or a few extra dollars spent on grocery shopping than to fight about it!

Posted by: Meet halfway | June 19, 2006 12:12 AM

Oh my god.

I am NEVER gonna get married.

Posted by: SingleMan | June 19, 2006 9:14 AM

Good call! It doesn't really matter what you do or how hard you work, your wife will always want, expect, and feel like she deserves just a little bit more from you no matter what you're already sacrificed.

Posted by: RunLukeRun | June 19, 2006 9:53 AM

I don't know about all this talk of thanks for doing things you're supposed to do. If something needs to be done at home, and you know how to do it, (for cryin out loud) do it. The thanks comes in knowing that there is one less thing out of place at your house.

Posted by: Joseph M. | June 19, 2006 11:39 AM

At this point, I agree with SingleMan. I always thought I wanted to get married, but I'm not so sure anymore. I'm from Oklahoma, and most of my friends back there are married. Out here on the East Coast getting married doesn't seem to be as high a priority as it is in the country's mid-section, which is refreshing. I was starting to feel a lot of pressure to "find someone" while in Oklahoma, watching my friends, one by one, tie the knot. So, I happen across this blog, start reading the comments, and whether you people are just venting or not, it's freakin' scary. I mean, are there any benefits at all to being married, much less starting a family? I'm starting to believe it might be better to die bitter and alone...and I'm only 27!

Posted by: Sisyphus | June 19, 2006 1:50 PM

>And to all the single moms -- single moms raise great kids, especially guys, very sympathetic to working moms.

Umm, sorry Leslie but the unfortunate truth is single moms raise a disproportionate percentage of criminals, especially violent ones.

Posted by: Superfly | June 19, 2006 2:18 PM

Amen brother.
The problem(s) with the posts on this blog is this raging sense of entitlement and competition between moms and dads.

Here is an idea: You chose to have kids. It is a thankless job. Be good parents and hopefully when you are dying your kids will take care of you.

Dads, quit your belly-aching. I take the trash out too and I never got props for it from anyone.

Moms, you cant have it all. It just isn't impossible. Dont run around trying to please everyone and get everything with the hope of realzing the affection of your kids and husband. You'll be mocked for your stupidity instead. Simplify your life, skip your kids' baseball game and relax. Trust me, they wont notice.

Posted by: SingleMan | June 19, 2006 3:44 PM

Good grief, man! Stand up for yourself! Would you say to your kids, "Sorry I don't live up to your Mom's expectations of what a father and husband should be, but I'm stupid." Saying to the entire Internet that you and all men (by the way, I really resent inclusion in your group) are "clueless" amounts to the same thing.

Posted by: wihntr | June 20, 2006 10:33 AM

To father of 2 - you wrote, "If a successful trip involves reading you mind (i.e. he got iceburg lettuce but you wanted green-leaf lettuce and you only wrote 'lettuce'), than no, it wasn't successful but THAT'S YOUR FAULT. No human can read somebody else's mind."

I had to laugh. I sent mine to the store with a list, specifically listing the brand name of three items... and he came home with the wrong items! We had a good laugh about it, and now, he carries his cell phone with him to the store and if he can't find the one I listed, he calls me.

I hope you had a wonderful Father's Day!

Posted by: arl. mom | June 20, 2006 12:25 PM

nothing ruins a fine day quicker than seeing some mousy, thoroughly whipped chap mewling about how hard things are, and then - in a last-second bid to avoid getting chewed out by the wife, again - letting us know it's not just HIM that's to blame, you see.

it's all men. ("i'm a man. we're clueless.")

what's it like, perry, going through life without a spine?

you wanna be your wife's doormat, ok. your decision. (although from your writing, it doesn't sound as if that decision has worked out so well....ya sound a mite unhappy, there.) but leave "men" out of it.

who elected you to apologize for the gender? in print?

Posted by: ed | June 23, 2006 5:26 PM

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