This Thanksgiving week, the theme of gratitude is everywhere - we're grateful to have a bountiful meal to set before our families tomorrow; we're grateful for those families; we're grateful for new connections and a growing community of friends. Nevertheless,
And Judith, wise, wise Judith, writes about this tendency of
If you talk to women these days, and the conversation turns to marriage, a great many will tell you how lucky they are. How blessed. How grateful. Because (and this seems always to be the phrase) they have "wonderful husbands"...But keep the talk going (change the subject, shift gears) and the conversation inevitably will turn. Someone will say, "'I have a wonderful husband, but..."...and then things will go south very fast.But then she continues and starts to spin things in a new way:
The way we define motherhood today permits women who are unhappy in their careers, or stuck in dead-end jobs, or simply not all that inspired or successful to opt out of their working lives for the greater "calling" of child-rearing. Men do not generally feel that they have that option...Many men, forced into provider roles they never hoped for, must end up feeling ripped-off. There isn't much of their financial compensation left over once the household expenses are paid. They don't get much by way of wifely compensation either: their wives are too busy nursing their own resentments to be able to give much in the way of the "consoling and commiserating" that...was traditionally considered a world-weary husband's due.Ouch. So even while we're feeling out-of-balance and unfulfilled, our partners are cruising down a one-way road without exit ramps and with only no-frills rest stops. (Think vending machines that dispense stale coffee instead of Starbucks or even Cinnabon.)
I know that I am one of the lucky ones. Husband actually is a "wonderful husband." He is the prototype. To borrow an expression from Becca, he brings home the bacon. (He doesn't cook it, but that's okay; we're vegetarians.) He takes paternity leave. He spends time with our sons. More time, in fact, than any other father I know. He throws them in the air, reads to them about Impressionist painters, constructs elaborate tunnels out of cardboard boxes. He feeds them at night. (Or at least he did; thank goodness we are past that stage.) He does not back away from a diaper blowout. He teaches Big Boy to say "Mommy is the prettiest." He listens to them. He listens to me. He spends most of his time doing things that make my life easier. That make my life better.
I know that he would do anything for me, for our family. He has. Including putting himself on hold to help keep us moving forward. And what does he get in return? A wife whose dissatisfaction with her own life more often than not (less, at least, since I've started writing) manifests itself in frustration toward him. He deserves better. Really he does.
Maybe this motherhood thing isn't so easy on me. But it's not so easy on him either. And I get that now.
Who modeled good fathering for you? Do you have an equal partner on this voyage through parenthood?