This father’s day, I’m thinking about division of parenting labor. You folks see the posts of me making cookies with my kids, or other crafty activities, and it’s true that in our household, that role is mostly me. I’m also the one who tends to keep track of when they’re growing out of clothes, and the one who shuttles them around to playdates and summer camp and singing lessons.
But more and more over the last few years, Kevin has taken on a lot of the mental labor of parenting — the scheduling of classes and summer camps, the signing up for doctor’s appointments, the filling out of permission slips, the calendaring of school meetings and deciding which ones are actually worth going to.
When they were little, a lot of that defaulted to me, as the female person in our parenting dyad, but at some point a few years ago, frayed and exhausted with my twenty kazillion jobs, I asked him to take on more of it, and he has. (If it’s work he can do without talking to strangers, even better. The computer has been a godsend in this regard.)
In addition to all that, Kev’s always borne more of the mental load in terms of worrying. He’s the car-seat and booster-seat researcher, the one who goes upstairs to check on the kids in the midst of party chaos, the ones who imagines all the terrible ways things could go wrong and then does what he can to prevent them (and reminds me to do the same). He’s the one keeping the babies alive, when I would be off in my own world, buried in the basement on my computer for twelve hours straight, blithely assuming they’ll be fine. I can go out of town for conferences, disappear for five days, and I don’t even need to call home to check — he’s got them.
Kevin’s also more patient than I am, and when Anand is having a hard day with people (people are hard, people!), Kev is the one who can talk him down, giving Anand as much time as he needs to process. Whatever I’ve learned about being patient with people’s emotional challenges and stumbling blocks, I’ve learned from watching Kev. (I’m still learning; it’s not my strongest skill.)
Happy Father’s Day, Kevin. You surpass your cultural conditioning, which is one of the hardest things, and voluntarily give up privilege. Also, you make me a better parent. I forgot to help the kids make you presents for today, and you’re not getting a new grill either, but we will cover you with kisses instead, and I know you will be just fine with that.