yes, men are capable of packing snacks and vacuuming

I am a momentum father and housekeeper.  What I mean by this is that I am perfectly good at all the little things that need doing every day to make the family run smoothly – getting the bag together, dressing the children properly, keeping track of the food, vacuuming.

But I have to work into shape.  I need to build that momentum.  I do not just have it.

I am, after all, a guy.  And I am not culturally programmed to pack small bags of snacks.

It is, however, not a question of inherited skills, of simply being a man.  I don’t buy that.

Not one bit.

I argue that it is about expectations and practice.

I got into practice during my first leave in 2008.  I am less in practice now but it is coming back fast.

Over at the new parenting site parentsask.com, Rick Suvalle (who blogs under I Peed On My Kid!) wrote a whole entry on how men cannot multitask, how he basically screws up all the daily tasks of Daddyland.

Every dad I’ve ever spoken to is exactly like me. They can’t do anything but play with their kids when it’s their turn to watch them, unless it’s watching TV at the same time. Of course being a stay-at-home dad requires more than just playing Polly Pockets and watching Yo Gabba Gabba on an infinite loop. There’s laundry to be done. Dishes to be washed. Floors to be swept. The list goes on. And on. And on. I actually have an actual list my wife gives me, but it doesn’t help. Without fail, if I’m watching my kids and I try and do anything else, I will mess something up.

What I suspect (besides a good schtick for a blog)  is a lack of confidence on old Rick”s part, to go with some serious soul crushing gatekeeping by his wife.

Some advice, dude.  Take control of the house.  You shop.  You clean.  On your standards.  There will be mistakes.  Learn from them.

What is the worst that is going to happen?  You end up at McDonald’s a couple of times.  A kid smells a little like pee for an hour or two.

Sheesh.

It is all about momentum, not testosterone.

And you can still watch football and play video games and hunt deer with rocks (since this is apparently our only natural skill).

Yep, I am off to track me some elk in the winter night right now.

And I have my little bags of snacks all ready …

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6 thoughts on “yes, men are capable of packing snacks and vacuuming

  1. Nope, no soul-crushing gatekeeper in my house. My wife is actually extremely supportive of my choice to stay at home with the kids. Granted she’s not the happiest person in the world when I accidentally shrink her favorite shirt, but who would be. Regardless, I think we’re actually on the same page here, Nathan. We’re both admitting to being “guys” and that’s why we have to work at this is stay-at-home dad thing. You’re just saying that it’s nature and I was just positing in a very fun and light way that maybe it could be nurture. But in the end we’re both working at these skills. While I’m bound to mess up things, I do do them on my own terms. I make my mistakes, I learn from my mistakes and sometimes I choose to actually do something about them. 🙂 And you’re right about the momentum, when I get going, I really get going and when I stumble I just get back on my feet…or pick up McDonald’s for dinner.

  2. But neither of you will know the pressure of being an at home mom until you learn to sew and craft, post pictures of your hand made creations on your adorable children on your blog, make cupcakes that look like critters for a large group of small children, and worry about how your butt looks in your new jeans. The snack baggies are a good start, but it’s still a long way from modern American motherhood at home.

  3. Which by the way, is the reason I love living in Sweden, not the USA. The parents in the USA have waaaay more pressure on them in so many ways when compared to Sweden. Pressure to make more, do more, have more, be more, so the kids will make more, do more, and be more, thus theoretically becoming better people. Or something.

  4. Yeah, this is why it needs to be redefined away from motherhood in the US to parenthood. You know, lose the cupcake pressure.

    And, Rick, I totally appreciate what you are doing and now feel a little bad for picking on you. However, the gap between nature and nuture is a wide one, and if you fall on the nature side, then what hope is there for co-parenting? So women should just, in general, stay at home and Dad’s need to get to work?

  5. The pressure is to have a household work the way women do. Actually, there is no need for that. A household – if a couple is married or living together – is taken over by the male part for some months, why shouldn’t it be run totally different?
    Yes, maybe there will be some uncommon mistakes (the last shirt accidentally shrunk was by my female home help) and, yes, maybe there will be a different standard when it comes to orderliness & cleanliness.
    However, in the end life will go on & will be enriched by another perspective.
    I could argue a lot especially what makes the difference between men & women when kids get older.

    Actually, it’s not about multitasking. It’s about making a difference.

  6. Exactly! I could not have said it better myself. What do some women think, that a father is going to leave his child shoeless in the snow? There might be some chaos, and raised eyebrows from snotty daycare staff, but that seems a small price to pay for getting dad involved.

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