When I was in 11th grade, I had a math teacher who would always give us M&M’s before a test. She said this was because the sugar rush went straight to our brains and gave us energy to recall calculus formulas. I don’t know how much truth there is to that but I loved having a little candy to dull the pain of performing the worst subject on earth.
To this day I keep a little chocolate around for these and general chocolate loving purposes. So I was just sitting down to write and said to myself, “Self. You need some chocolate.” Obediently I went to go explore my choices. I knew for a fact I had a Ziplock bag full of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups that my brother gave me for my birthday. There was also a Toblerone bar I bought at the airport recently that I’d only eaten two pieces from. As I was debating which delicious treat I would choose, I reached up to the highest cupboard in my 60’s beach style kitchen. Yes I keep it high and mostly out of sight so that when I do experience bad moods I don’t wind up devouring the entire stash in one sitting.
The horror that overwhelmed the following moment was inexplicable. NO CHOCOLATE. Nothing resided in that cupboard except for a half a bag of croutons and a few candy wrappers.
“SCOTT!” I shouted in alarm, turning quickly and marching toward the bedroom. “What happened to all the chocolate?!” I opened the bedroom door and there was my 6’4” fiancé, sheepishly holding my 5 lb Chihuahua in front of his face in a feeble attempt to escape my wrath. I burst into laughter. “Did you really eat ALL the chocolate? There was a whole bag of those peanut butter cups AND a full candy bar!”
He moved the dog up in down in an affirmative nodding motion. “You little rat!” I laughed playfully shoving the man, unable to control my laughter or shock. I understood how Ron Burgundy felt when Baxter ate the whole wheel of cheese – I couldn’t even be mad, I was impressed. I realize he’s a big guy but that’s a LOT of candy to consume over a weekend. “MEN!” I threw my arms up and smiled, realizing after a few days of feasting I really didn’t need the extra calories.
The experience, which occurred only a few moments before this writing, got me thinking. What is it with guys and their ability to eat SO much food? And why wouldn’t he consider that I would be interested in eating MY chocolate. I mean sure, have some, but leave at least one for me?? I’m over it, I swear, but SHEESH.
Candy shenanigans aside, that chocolate stealing bubblehead asked me to spend my life with him, which may mean children. There are a lot of things I look for in a man, but one of the first qualities I look for in someone I’m taking seriously is if he is the caring, compassionate, super-loving type who would be an exemplary father. (Maybe I should add chocolate thievery to one of those first things I look for, but really, I’m over it.) My kids deserve someone who will BE there, and coming from a meh experience with my pop, it’s critical I search carefully. Sadly however, the image of the father is one that gets shit on. A LOT.
Case in point, the image to the left, which I stumbled upon yesterday and inspired this article. I don’t know what your first reaction is, but I assume most people read it and think, “Aw that’s nice. Mothers really are nice people.” But read a little deeper. What a slam that kid gave his/her father! Where did the whole Dad-bashing thing come from? Surely we can’t all be suffering from Daddy issues…right?
Think about the images you see of men performing as fathers. I’m talking about commercials and movies – not your friends who are awesome fathers because I have some of those too and they aren’t who I’m talking about. I’m talking about the man in a commercial who is handed a baby and baffled at how to change it. Mothers who are terrified to leave their babies for fear that their husbands will not be able to properly care for the child. Think of movies like Daddy Day Care, Big Daddy, Mrs. Doubtfire, Three Men and a Baby, or Mr. Mom. In the end the men end up not killing the children by accident or “run-by-fruitings,” but the point is clear throughout each of the films: men are not suitable caretakers for children.
Which, ladies and gentlemen, gives us the same implication we’ve been hearing for as long as there has been procreating: caring for children is women’s work.
I refuse to believe that men are worthless. I come from a family where my father worked as a doctor and my Mom stayed at home, then Dad got sued, we lost everything and she had to go to work because my father’s medical license was suspended. So we pretty much were the manifestation of those movies, and it played out similarly. My father was an awful cook, never picked us up on time, and breakfast was always some version of overly sugar coated something. Why did this happen?
Because again, men are unsuitable for raising children, that’s women’s work. My father was much older than my mother and extremely “old fashioned” – and by old fashioned I mean sexist. He deeply believed that caring for us was something my mother was in charge of, even though he wasn’t working. I mean, he loved to play with us and spend time with us, did some of the punishing and so forth, I’m not sitting here and complaining about my old man. He was a great man and I love him dearly.
What I am saying is that we are perpetuating bad ideas about men and fathers that needs to stop. Had my father lived in a different world where child rearing was believed to be an egalitarian effort, I suspect things would have been different. Boys and young men are raised watching media portrayals of Dads as dumb asses, and I hate to think that because of this, perhaps they believe they will be unsuitable for raising children when the times comes.
I’m here to say you’re not – you can wipe a baby booty as well as anyone. You can tuck them in, read stories and make sandwiches. I know for a fact you know how to make a good sandwich. That seems to be a trait all men are extremely skilled at because you all LOVE sandwiches. What is it about sandwiches? Something about bread and protein? They’re easy to make? No heating apparatus necessarily required to produce a solid sammy? I digress…
Fortunately all isn’t lost in the media, as there are cool and present dads in some movies like Sleepless in Seattle, Taken, Father of the Bride, Boyz N the Hood, and The Pursuit of Happiness. However more mainstream in my opinion are the absent fathers or the stupid fathers who can’t tell their hand from their ass, therefore are unable to deal with children. And that’s just stupid.
I believe that men are just as caring and extraordinary creatures as women are, and we need to give them more credit. I am at that age where my buddies are becoming Dads, and it’s incredible to see how they change and almost always meet that challenge.
“Any fool with a dick can make a baby. But only a real man can raise his children.” Jason Styles, Boyz N the Hood
What do you think? Am I over thinking it? Or are fathers portrayed negatively or less apt at raising children than women in media? Also, any donations of Reese’s peanut butter cups or Toblerone bars will be happily accepted.