I am usually too busy parenting to pick up a parenting magazine, but the other day I was waiting in the pediatricians office and flipped through the pages of either Parents or Parenting (can't remember!). Sometimes I find these magazines somewhat interesting... but it is usually a lot of marketing for really overpriced strollers and cutesy cupcake recipes. I find it more enriching to read the Mothering magazine blogs or accounts from my friends (personal blog shout-outs, yeah!)
I think we can add gender stereotypes to the list of what is included in these mainstream magazine.
A survey asked the question of mothers, "Who is the better parent?"
As if that isn't already the most loaded question of all time... try answering that in your household without it resulting in an epic fight... but the responses (or the ones they chose to print) were super DUPER depressing.
The results were not unanimous. Women did not just vote for themselves. Many stated that their husbands/partners were the "better parent". Awww, sounds so nice, right? It's not nice. In essence, women either said that they were better because they were "more responsible or knew how to clean up better". Or they were NOT the better parent because, "I'm so tired from taking care of the house that I am cranky with my kids."
Some of the answers alluded to the idea that the fathers were more fun to play with because they came home from work refreshed, as in they had enjoyed a momentary break from toddlers whining and pooping all over the place. Other answers insinuated that Moms were better because they were the only one that could be held responsible to make dinner, clean up the bathroom or pack a suitcase. Um, is it just me, or does this seem unfair?
These weren't stereotypes forced upon these women, they have chosen these roles for themselves. Or maybe if not chosen, they have let themselves fall into these roles. Moms clean, feed and handle all of the rules (and thus are too tired or burnt out to enjoy time with their kids) while the Dads shirk all household responsibilities and get to be the "fun" parent.
I know this isn't the norm for parenting roles, but jeez, it certainly seems to be happening a lot!
Maybe this survey struck me because sometimes I do feel that I miss out on the "fun" part of being a parent because I spend an awful lot of time handling parenting logistics instead of playing. By bedtime, I am so done with bickering, pushing and general rebellion that I lose my patience. Yes, I yell and I get grumpy. Gregory can return from work and approach whatever battle I am fighting with a fresh perspective. Their Dad is the patient, reasonable one while I'm the psycho b&%ch they've been stuck with all day.
I am not saying that it's easy to come home from work and then have to discipline kids. Both mothers and fathers, whether they stay home all day or not, have exhausting roles to fulfill. What bothered me most is that these mothers are perpetuating an unfair balance in their lives. Is that really what you want to gain from mothering from your children? "Well, they can count on me to get the laundry finished, but they don't think I am very fun!" Yuck.
What about you? Other moms and dads, do you fall into this trap or try to fight it?