About every six months my wife, Christi, goes on a weekend getaway with her friends—and I’m left alone with our two preschoolers—for three full days.
The last time my bride enjoyed a much-needed weekend away, I had both children at the grocery store. Besides pushing them a little faster and spinning them around a little harder in the cart, I didn’t do anything unlike Christi when she takes them by herself.
I made sure to wipe down the cart with antibacterial wipes.
We got our free sample cookie from the bakery.
The kids each got to pick one item of their choice.
We even made it to the checkout counter without a tantrum.
But as I walked through the store, people were watching me. Every now and again, I’d get a smile—albeit perceived condescension—from some (I’m sure) well-meaning individual, as if to say, “Great job! But are you really doing okay?”
Overhearing my conversation with the cashier about the kids and our weekend together, one woman obliviously blurted, “That’s a very nice thing you’re doing, babysitting the kids for your wife.”
There are two wishes I have about the weekends Christi is away.
First, I wish I could give her more of these opportunities. She deserves them.
Second, I know every man enjoys accolades, but I wish I could go to the grocery store that weekend without feeling like a hero.
Perhaps the media perpetuates the problem. A recent BYU study of two of the most popular Disney “tween” TV shows found that “every 3.2 minutes, a dad acts like a buffoon.”
From the 1950s to 1990, another study found the number of times a mom tells a joke at a dad’s expense increased from 1.8 times per episode to 4.3 times per episode.
No wonder I’m a hero for taking my kids to the grocery store. “Buffoons” can’t pick the right groceries, let alone manage their own kids at the same time.
Perhaps this is why many families today are choosing to turn off these television shows. What’s happening in their homes looks much different—and so much better—than what’s being portrayed.
A BabyCenter study found last year that 26% of Millennial dads are the primary caregiver in the home, 58% place family before work all or most of the time, and 70% make it a point to be home for dinner as often as they can.
Like our family—and many families we know—household chores are split between the genders as well, with 77% of Millennial dads taking responsibility for bedtime routines, and 65% holding bath-time duties. These are my favorite times of the day.
Oh, then there’s the time I scored a 10 on a diaper change. We rate diaper changes. If both baby and parent need a change of clothes, that’s a 10.
Or the time our son was sick and he threw up all over me, and projectile vomited into my mouth as well. That’s a great memory.
Or when Christi is overwhelmed, the kids are in a funk, and I decide it’s time to go on a family adventure to break out of the rut.
Or when we feel like the enemy is attacking our family and I pray circles around our home, covering our kids’ rooms, and praying over our marriage.
I write none of this to brag. I have nothing to brag about. Millions of dads are doing the exact same thing.
As one man wrote in the study, “Being an involved dad isn’t a trend. It’s just the way things are today.”
Because chances are, he’s killing it at home.