Thursday, November 05, 2009

Homework: Family Matters Seminar: Matroshka

~List ten things your dad would never have done to help out around the house, that modern dads do routinely. Idea: Change diapers, give kids a bath, etc.

I’m taking a different approach to this one.

I’m currently recovering from surgery. For six weeks, I have been told, I am not to lift anything over 5 lbs., which, for the mother of two toddlers, isn’t a very practical suggestion. Yet, I follow it, since it involves my health.

The first week of my recovery, my mom came from NY to help out; the second week, my dad visited. I use my dad as my example today.

Interestingly enough, during their change-of-shift, my parents saw each other at the Salt Lake International Airport. “Those kids sure are cute,” my mom warned my dad, “but those two little ones have the most rancid diapers I’ve ever experienced in my life.”

About that: I don’t think that’s true. And with as much complaining as I’ve heard from other people in the last few weeks about my kids’ diapers, I don’t think it’s so much that the diapers were more gross, as much as the diaper-changers hadn’t changed diapers in such a long time.

Enough about that. It’s getting gross up in here.

Anyway. I was telling you about my dad being here.

I was (and still am, dangit) reluctant to sit up in my room and recover as I’m supposed to; it’s not easy to be upstairs and listen to my kids’ crying or requests when I know that, if things were going as usual, I could fix it in a second. I feel tremendous guilt over having someone else do My work, not just because I can’t do it, but more because I know that it’s not easy nor enjoyable – for them. But for me? There’s nothing – NOTHING – I’d rather be doing.

Oops, sidetracked again.

Anyway, yeah, so I go downstairs to ‘help’ much more than I should, and my dad’s reaction while he was here, to reassure me, was, “Jenny, I have changed diapers before, you know.” I know that. Just being a mom, I guess.

In quiet moments, though, my dad would start to get misty (I get my Crybaby from my dad), and say to me, “I hope you’re thankful for him. You married one hell-of-a man.”

Again and again. On the way to the airport, one of the last things he said to me: “Darin is one hell-of-a man.”

I know he is. I’d like to think that perhaps I know this more than anyone else.

Maybe you can see where I’m going with this, but before I do, I (of course) need to state that I am not, in any way, ungrateful for what my husband does, at home or at the office. I don’t know a harder-working individual on this planet. He is an honest man, an intelligent man, gentle, loving, and with integrity. I don’t feel the need to broadcast this on my blog (LOVEYOUANGELHUNNYBUNZNUGGET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel it. That being said:

What about me? I have been doing this dayindayout for over ten years. I love it, and I choose it. There are many aspects of what I do that I consider simple because I know how things operate around here. But it’s not always easy. Where’s my prize? And by prize, I mean, how many people get misty-eyed looking at what I do and tell ANYONE, “She is one hell-of-a woman.”? Because guess what: what I do is called parenting. I signed up for this all when I had a baby. Does everyone step up to that call? Nope. But guess who did? I did. And so did Darin.

When Darin gets home from work, he changes diapers. Together we’ll cook dinner and clean up and bathe the kids and read scriptures and put the kids to bed (he does have church meetings a couple of nights a week, which means I do this stuff by myself). After the kids go to bed, Darin uses that time to work on a project for work, or on schoolwork (he’s finishing up his doctorate, have I mentioned?) while I usually watch tv and do laundry, or read a book. What he does during those hours between when he arrives home and when the kids going to bed is called Being A Father. I don’t know why this is extraordinary.

In March, I went to NY to visit a cousin and together we went to a concert. While I was gone, Darin took all 5 kids to church (the only time since getting his calling that he didn’t sit on the stand during sacrament meeting). When I returned, a friend of mine recalled: “I saw Darin there, wrestling all 5 kids and thought, ‘Poor Darin!’ before I caught myself and thought, ‘Wait – what about Jenny? She does this every week! When have I ever felt bad for her for doing the same thing Darin’s doing now?’”

Exactly, and thank you. Some would call it generational, and part of it is; I don’t doubt my dad’s sincerity in complimenting my husband, not at all. My dad has said for the over twelve years that I’ve been married that he (dad) himself couldn’t have picked a better husband – that a dad could not want more for his daughter.

But there’s another aspect of this, an aspect that is NOT generational, but cultural, which puts an interesting strain on things: Mom stays home and takes care of things; Dad goes to work. If, when Dad comes home, he chooses to participate in what’s going on in his family’s life, it’s seen as extraordinary. Extraordinary. What if we switched things up a bit? How is it seen when Mom does what Dad does during the day and goes to work?

Oh, don’t get me started.

What is this? Why, it's homework!
You can get in on the fun, too!


Christi said...

So, so, so true!

Kalli Ko said...

here's the thing, good peoples attract good peoples, and so is the case of you and Darin. You=awesome, Darin=awesome.

Also, I owe you soup. Except I have been without car for a week. Other car is at the doctor, has been for 3 weeks. Don't even get me started...

word verf: nuttlerd, I could go so many places with this.

AzĂșcar said...

Yes. To all of it.

Only NO to one section: I've misted up because you're a hell-of-a-woman. Really. Because you are.

Nicole said...

I didn't know you were getting surgery! I hope you get well soon. I miss you guys.

Travelin'Oma said...

I have thought this for decades! Great post.

lisa said...

This is so interesting.Because I hit a wall about three weeks ago getting the kids ready for church by myself while they whined and complained. It has been eleven plus years now and not one person ever offered to sit with us or anything else even when I had a newborn and my oldest was only ten. (And he's now home from a mission.)
I have decided it's because I looked incredibly competent...even with the hole in my pantyhose and the sweat breaking out on my forehead and threatening my children through gritted teeth.
You do too, sweetie.
Grace under pressure.

Bunsies said...

Just to clarify-- from an occasional professional diaper changer--I never said they were the worst ever--just the worst in a long time. Since I haven't changed diapers much lately. The worst ever for me, ( she will be ticked at this) was Tia-- around the time she was tested for CF. I can tell you more if you want. Love you guys. Glaad you are doing well

beans said...

seriously. i'm ticked. because i had smelly poopy diapers. ticked i tell you.

Mrs. Organic said...

Bravo! Especially the last bit.

Lisa said...

Going to work is easy. Even if you work hard, it's easy. Lots of people do it.

Naomi Miles said...

Amen... to all of it! Is it weird to feel like you know someone through their blog? I know we've not met, but I'm sure if I lived in your neighbourhood I'd be inviting you to my house often! Being a mum is a 24/7 job and really not the easy option... I wouldn't change it for the world x

c-dub said...

Yes. Bravo. Amen. And I concur.

I think when a dad chooses to participate it's seen as extraordinary because so many dads don't.

But I will tell you that with every generation I see more and more dads who do choose to participate. And that's the only thing that's going to change the cultural double standard (or whatever it is).

I also concur with the part about your being one helluva woman.

(haha--you know i don't usually do this, but so i swore in my comment and guess what my word verification is? cusser. bwahahah)

Kara said...

I don't know if we have ever officially met. Our kids go to school together and I know your husband through associations related to my husband being a bishop.

I don't know why but I ran across you blog this weekend (I have seen you make comments on another blog and for some reason clicked on your name).

Anyway I couldn't help but make a comment to tell you thanks for writing this. This is just what I needed to hear as I sat in church today(by myself, juggling 5 kids) and listened to my husband being praised and prayed for and couldn't help wondering what about me. Of course then feeling extremely guilty for feeling that way. It was so nice to hear that someone else feels that way to.

Wiberg 5 said...

amen and amen.