If you want to have a look into a new mom's soul, start by taking a glance at her browser history. The things I googled after my son was born two-and-a-half years ago would make you think I couldn't keep a goldfish alive, let alone a human. Almost all of my searches started the same way: "How do I . . . get the baby to sleep? Make the baby stop crying? Make the baby learn how to hold his own bottle so I can go back to sleep? (I have yet to figure this one out, but I feel certain there's a gap in the market for a product that can accomplish this.)
Don't get me wrong, I feel very lucky to have [the partner that I do], but the constant amazement that my husband shows up every day to parent left me perplexed.
Almost every time I started to type this phrase on my keyboard, Google would try to help me out, autopopulating the common search phrases sleep-deprived mothers everywhere were searching for. At the top of this list was something I was not looking for: "How do I get my husband to help with the baby more?"
It happened in public, too. At family parties and outings, well-meaning friends, coworkers, and cousins would ask how things were going, only to respond shocked when I told them my husband was up with the baby all night, or he was the victim of a 5 a.m. diaper blowout. "It's so nice that he's so hands-on. You're so lucky," they'd say.
Don't get me wrong, I'm convinced I have a four-leaf clover stuck to the bottom of my shoe that I don't know about, because I do feel very lucky to have a partner for childrearing and beyond (a nice bonus is that he's a way better cook than I am). But the constant amazement that my husband shows up every day to parent left me perplexed. There's no question that there's been a generational shift of both parents working, and as such, both parents chipping in at home. For some reason, social conversation just hasn't caught up to that shift yet.
Research shows it, too. A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found that a majority of fathers are involved in their children's lives — whether that be physically or emotionally. The study found that fathers also consider their role equally as important as the mother's, putting to rest the notion that the kids are mom's job (which is particularly helpful if mom has a job on top of this job!). And while there are definitely cases of moms pulling all the weight — especially if you're a single mom — many two-parent households likely see a division of labor when it comes to parenting duties.
Add another kid to the mix, and the scale may even tip heavier to dad for a short time. After the birth of my second son, I was so exhausted I could not handle my energetic toddler bouncing around the house all day. No matter where my husband went — whether it be Costco, the gas station, or the ATM, I tasked him with taking our toddler with him. And while newborns are physically more taxing, spending your day with a toddler is emotionally taxing (not to mention every errand now takes double the time). And here's where I'm really thankful — he did it without a peep, even when our son was having a major meltdown.
I don't know how long it will take for others to stop asking me how much my husband helps (let's hope this conversation piece dies with it), but until then, I'm making a promise to stop smiling and nodding and instead tell them that luck has nothing to do with it.