If Moms Were More Like Dads, We'd All Be in Trouble

mom stressedHere's a news flash for you: Moms are stressed. Between the hunt for work/life balance and our kid's other sneaker, finding time to smell the roses just ain't happening. More and more we're told it's our own fault, our own insatiable taste for the perfect life that is making our blood pressure skyrocket.

Fueled by Pinterest photos of elegant made-in-your-living-room shelving for the baby nursery and every fearmongering study in the media, we have turned ourselves into organic baby food-making, driftwood-headboard-building, GOOPy Gwyneth Paltrow wanna-bes on the relentless hunt for the chimera known as perfection.

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And scolding fingers wagging near our noses are warning us that we need to take a page out of Susan Powter's book and stop the insanity -- ourselves.

After all, as Karol Markowicz said in the New York Post this week, we are looking in the wrong places as "real perfection happens when you aren’t looking."

And fellow Post writer Kyle Smith, in his follow-up to Markowicz, explained that we'd be a whole lot better off if moms were "more like dads" who "don't give a shit."

Lightbulb!

I can just stop looking and stop giving a s--t, and a magical unicorn will poop balance and sanity over my house! GENIUS!

Except ... someone would have to clean up the unicorn poop. And that someone would probably be me. 

Let me get this disclaimer out of the way: My husband is a wonderful father. I say this not to score some points for the upcoming holidays, but because he's a man who is wholly committed to raising a happy and healthy human being. He puts our daughter on the school bus every morning before work. He probably packs more lunches than I do. He coaches her soccer team, and if you asked him what a dream Saturday looks like, it would probably involve him, her, and two Xbox controllers. (I'd be on the couch, reading.)

But if the devil is in the details, my husband is safe from fire and brimstone. He is not -- and never has been -- detail-oriented.

Case in point: On a recent holiday that father and daughter had off -- while I was working -- they were about to leave the house on an adventure, and I had to stop them. Turning to our 9-year-old, I asked, "Did you brush your teeth? Did you brush your hair?"

No and no.

She's 9. You have to ask these things. My husband doesn't. Not because he doesn't believe in dental hygiene, but because it simply doesn't occur to him.

This is where I come in, why I have to manage the minutiae of our lives. I don't go overboard. I ignored the too-short leggings with stained knees that she'd put on beneath her tunic because I've learned to pick my battles.

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I would even venture to say that it's not Pinterest perfection that I strive for but simple sanity. And I'm often the only one keeping the balls in the air.

Not because my husband doesn't care, but because when snow hits the ground, his first thought is not, Do last year's boots still fit her? For the record, they didn't. And because he's a good dad, he took her boot shopping -- but only because I reminded him to do so.

I'm uneasy casting this as a classic Mars/Venus issue, because there are sure to be households where this dynamic is reversed. But it's clear that in most relationships, this dichotomy exists. One parent manages the minutiae. The other leaves them to it.

This is not a remnant of the 1950s relationship, but a simple difference in our make-up as human beings. Just as it's often said that every relationship has a carer and caree, even modern parental units tend to have the person who manages the details and the one who does not.

At a recent girls' night, every mother at the table had similar tales of their husbands or boyfriends. These are men who are all good fathers, who get high marks for being involved, modern men, and yet they fumble on the daily details -- the teeth brushing, the diaper bag packing, the "did you go potty before you left the house" assurances.

Oh to be the parent who doesn't give a s--t. The freedom! I can practically hear it shouting my name, urging me to the couch to binge watch Netflix instead of baking cookies for the bus driver's holiday gifts. 

But someone has to make the cookies, and if that someone is going to make them, they might as well taste good, right? Maybe a recipe on Pinterest will help.

And oh, right, someone has to call the pediatrician. Someone has to address the Christmas cards.

Someone has to give a s--t.

Our kids certainly don't.

If left to her own devices, my daughter would never brush her teeth (especially not at night). She would wear clothes that she's long since grown out of to school. And she sure as heck would not get that nasty flu shot.

She's just a kid! Sure, we're working on responsibilities and independence, and she gets better every day (she fed the dog this morning after only being prodded once), but it's not her job to "give a s--t" yet.

More to the point, she can only do so much. She can't buy herself new winter boots or pick herself up from dance class.

She needs a parent who manages the details, one who may turn to the other parent and say, "Can you be at the dance center at 5 on this day?" but who ensures there's someone there. She needs a parent to bake the cookies for the bus driver and the cupcakes for her birthday.

Could she survive without some of what I do? Absolutely.

But is our kids' survival all we care about? I thought it was to ensure our kids were happy and healthy, felt loved, and had the tools to one day be successful members of society.

To turn out a kid like that takes planning. It takes work. It takes getting the details right.

So, yes, I'm stressed. But someone has to be ...

Do you think moms should just "stop giving a s--t"? Who is the detail person in your family?

 

Image © iStock.com/ArtMarie

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