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This was more difficult than I thought. I’ve just left the children for the first time ever for longer than a short conference trip, and thus smudged my mascara big time when curling up next to them at 4.30am this morning and giving them the last hug for the next 4 ½ weeks.

Not only do I miss them all already but I also feel like a bad mum sitting here at Frankfurt airport waiting for my connecting flight. I feel as if I was abandoning them and making their life a misery.

But why should I feel like some kind of a non-maternal she-devil? I’m going back to Japan for work (an important part of most parents’ lives) and my children are staying at our home with their father (my husband) going about their daily routines in a similar way as if I was there. Ok, they will not see their mum for a month. But they will see their dad. So, I don’t really know why I need to feel like a bad mum. My kids love me, and I love them. And importantly, my husband loves our kids as much as I do. But for some reason, society tends to assume that that’s not the case (for instance, when it comes to maternity/paternity leave or custodial rights), and therefore seems to value mothers’ contribution and care higher than that of fathers’.

Regardless of what society might think, my husband is a great caregiver. He’s not the best cook in the world, but he is capable of boiling some pasta, making a Spanish omelette, turning the oven on for some fish fingers and using the toaster – and in emergencies, walking to the nearest curry house to feed the kids. He’s also not as tidy or obsessed with cleanliness as I am, and if we didn’t have an au pair, I’d expect the house to look like a tip when I am not there. But more importantly than him being Nigella Lawson or Kim Woodburn (or any other domestic goddess) he does an amazing job at being a parent. He spends his weekends putting up tents in the garden and sleeping in them with the kids, he takes the kids climbing at a local climbing wall, creates a dinosaur cage out of old cardboard boxes or a secret den by using dining chairs, a throw and some cushions, and even on a school night after work he helps our son with his Terracotta army homework or our daughter with her phonics, and afterwards lies underneath our dining table with the kids pretending they are in a cave and reads to them.

My point is that children don’t really care whether they have beans on toast for dinner on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and a Spanish omelette the rest of the week, or whether or not there are toothpaste marks on the bathroom mirror or a build up of dust on the sideboard. Children just want to have a caregiver who (in addition to proving a safe environment) spends quality time with them, and my husband, like many other fathers, is perfect in providing just that.

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10 thoughts on “Fathers are as good caregivers as mothers

  1. It is so true that it doesn’t matter about the dust bunnies–and dirt is good for our immune systems 🙂 Your kids are lucky to have two loving parents, and ultimately that is the only thing that matters. Have a good conference!

  2. Loistava kirjoitus! Ihan samaa itekkin pahkailin valilla kun olen “joutunut” Suomessa laukkaamaan vaikkarin takia, mutta hyvinhan tuo perhe on taalla parjannyt ilman minuakin! Ja itse asiassa on tehnyt valilla hyvaa ottaa etaisyytta sen kuukauden verran – aippa on ollut entista rakkaampi, kun on ollut vahan aikaa poissa. Eika aippaakaan ihan niin paljon arsyta kiljuminen ja tappelu kun on saanut vahan aikaa ladata akkuja toissa 😀

    • Ihana kuulla että en ole ainoa äiti, joka jättää lapsensa miehen kanssa kotiin ja lähtee itse akatemian ‘houkuttelemana’ toiseen maahan pidemmäksi aikaa kuin vain joku parin pvn konferenssi reissu 🙂

      Juuri näin 🙂 Vaikka lapsia (ja miestä) tuleekin seuraavan 4 vkon aikana kova ikävä, arvostaa heidän kanssaan olemista ihan eri tavalla kun heidät sitten 4 viikon päästä näkee.

  3. Isn’t it wonderful to have a partner in parenting who you trust so completely with your kids (even though they’re the children of both of you)? Of course men can be as great at caregiving as most women, but as you aptly point out – that’s not how society sees it. Traditional gender roles are very pervasive. I’m happy you guys are equal parents. It’s something that still doesn’t happen often enough.

  4. Näinhän se menee, yhteiskunta asettaa meille normeja, jotka onneksi aikojen saatossa muuttuvat. Isä- ja äitinormi muuttuvat, hitaasti mutta varmasti. Onneksi on tiennäyttäjiä 🙂

    • Suomessa sukupuoliroolit ovat hissukseen murtumassa, ainakin hoitovapaiden suhteen (mutta esim. holtajuuskiistoissa äiti taitaa edelleenkin olla lain silmissä vahvoilla vain siksi että hän on lapsen ‘äiti’), Englanti on vanhoillisempi esim. hoitovapaiden suhteen ja Japani edelleen erittäin vanhoillinen (Japanissa lapsen ensisijaiseksi huoltajaksi katsotaan käsittääkseni aina äiti). Me suomalaiset ollaan siis tässä asiassa aikaamme edellä ja muutoksen edelläkävijöitä 🙂

  5. The dreaded mother guilt. I parent totally alone (my husband died) and I feel guilt for being the only caregiver, here 24/7 and maybe driving my kids mad because of it? There is always something to make you feel you are doing the wrong thing, no matter what you do. Enjoy Japan. Wish I was going to Japan again!

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. Parenting is hard work and like you say, parents often feel guilt for one thing or another.
      PS. I’ve just had a quick look at your blog. I’ll go and have a proper read in a couple of days when I things are less hectic 🙂

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