One flu over the cuckoo’s nest

What I originally thought was just a minor sniffle turned out to be a case of the full-blown flu.

Mess up the hair more, swap out the stylish clothes, add more blankets and used tissues and this is so me when I am sick image courtesy of Unsplash)

Mess up the hair so that it looks like an animal’s nest and make it brown, replace the stylish clothes with mismatched sweats, add more blankets and used tissues scattered among kid toys and do away with this whole suffering in silence thing she has going on and this image really captures how I look when I am sick. (Image courtesy of Unsplash)

I do not handle being sick well. While I am mostly better now, I’d spent the last few days either in bed or under a blanket on the couch. The effort of getting marginally presentable each day was exhausting. I wanted my mommy to magically appear and make it all better, but my mommy is busy taking care of her mommy right now. I coughed, and sneezed, and resigned myself to be miserable.

One of those days, as I lay there envying the liveliness of extras on the Walking Dead, my door opened and in walked my eldest son. In his hand was a yellow flower, the first of our daffodils of the season. “Here mom, this is to make you feel better.” It was lovely, except my sinuses, thoroughly blocked, would not allow me to breathe in its scent, and its bright color caused my eyes to water.

“Do you like it?”

“I love it, baby.” Although it probably sounded more like I wuv get, baby. Achoo! Snort. Snort. Ack! I hate being sick!

“Dad asked me to help him more in the garage, but I’ll be back to check on you.”

“Dad did?” Bless him. “Okay honey, have fun.” I pulled the blanket back over my shoulders as Kiddo returned to play in a great outside world I couldn’t currently enjoy, thankful that my hubby was on point. I assumed LT was out there somewhere too, but I couldn’t dreg up the energy to be sure.

It could be worse. I could still be traveling for work or I could be doing this all alone.

A few days earlier, I had been trapped on a plane, forced to make small talk for hours when it should have been a mere forty minute flight. One the poor unfortunate souls stuck in that tin can with me had asked innocently enough, “so who’s watching your kids while you are gone?”

“Their dad.”

“Oh,” the older man responded as his face became the picture of sympathy, “and are you okay with that?”

“Of course.” Um….Why shouldn’t I be?

The comment still bothered me, days later buried under blankets on the couch, even though I could barely remember what it was like to breathe.

Tuesday was International Women’s Day and the internet was full of images and writings of strong woman. It was a day to celebrate how very far we’ve come in terms of empowerment, but I believe there are still a few gaps in the modern-day feminist narrative, keeping true gender equality just out of reach. One is our perception of what makes a good father.

What does fatherhood have to do with feminism? I am able to pursue my dreams, my own sense of self, and be all I can be because I know someone else has my back at home.

When I travel as part of my day job, I don’t typically worry that I’ll return to find my backyard now serves as an arena for an underground cock-fighting ring, or that I’ll trip over a stack of random Polaroids detailing a night that will never be remembered or evidence of a hundred other bad decisions. Nor do I worry that homework will be excused, bedtimes avoided, or that ice cream and candy will be served exclusively for breakfast. I don’t worry because my other half is a parent and not a babysitter.

And yet, this simple fact may read like praise, as if my husband keeping the household from descending into chaos while I am otherwise indisposed is somehow above and beyond what all fathers and husbands should do for their families. I understand that not every father is as engaged with their children or as willing to pick up mom’s slack (especially after several days of solo-parenting before mom started to complain about feeling like death warmed over), but I’d like to think that the default assumption about the role should be slightly higher than the slacker / man-boy / comic-relief dad so favored on sitcoms.

When someone tells me my husband is a good father, I want them to say that because they saw the half-dozen kids use him like a swing-set during a school field trip, or because they overheard one of the hundreds of super-secret one-on-one talks he and one of the boys share about an individual child’s worries. I want them to say it because he is a great father and not because he simply shows up when there isn’t any other option.

Continuing to accept that men are somehow less capable of caring for a family is much the same as continuing to accept that women are any less capable of running a business or more and can be just as damaging to the next generation.

And so, during this Women’s History Month, I will rejoice in the accomplishments of brave women who fought for my right to vote, celebrate those who broke through the glass ceiling, invented Kevlar, fire escapes, and computer compilers. I will drink to those ancient women who created beer and to those more modern women who redefined math and physics.

But at the same time, while I am proud to be a STEM woman by day and a writer mom by night, I am so very grateful to be partnered with a man who isn’t afraid to make breakfast, who isn’t too manly to fold laundry, and whose very machoness isn’t threatened by agreeing to play with colored blocks. I may hold his parenting skills to a higher standard than the sitcoms, but then again, I don’t find the alternative very funny.

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52 thoughts on “One flu over the cuckoo’s nest

  1. Love it! Those outdated attitudes about fatherhood bother me to no end, too. They’re every bit as offensive as the misguided and antiquated beliefs that women are in any way inferior to men. Gender stereotypes be damned, even when I was married to my kids’ mother I was the much more attentive parent (and she brought home the bigger paycheck). And I was perfectly fine with both those things.

    Hope you keep getting better! There’s been a sickness running rampant through my office, as well. Fortunately I have managed to avoid it thus far (knock on wood). Thank you, immune system!

    Like

    • I am enjoying seeing more dads in commercials. It is like someone just realized guys actually shop too. On the flip side I’ve also liked seeing more moms on tv or screen mess up too. We are just as clueless sometimes.

      I am mostly better. My immune system and my evasive maneuvers when it comes to sick colleagues are usually enough, but this time there was no escape and it knocked me out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. First of all, I hope you’re feeling better. How sweet that your son brought you a flower – he must have a good role model :-). I love this post, Allie. Parenting is hard and I think there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that moms and dads are doing great jobs. At the same time, I totally agree that it’s time to set aside the biases and stereotypes about what men and women are capable of. You’re right, women can be CEO’s and men can be exceptional parents 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I have been in my sick bed this week and my husband has had to sort out the kids and house whilst I lay in state in my bed! Mine was a cold which morphed into something horrific. I think I was knocking at the pearly gates on Monday.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A great post, Allie, and a very valid point. My husband is a great father too, because, why not? As you say, thinking less of men when it comes to parenting is the same as thinking less of women when it comes to business – feminism is about equality for both sexes in all things.

    And I hope you feel better soon – I’m sick as well, and well behind on everything I’m supposed to be doing. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about that 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. First, hoping you are feeling better now. Second, this post reminds me of being a child, hanging with my father who was a stay-at-home Dad. My mother worked full-time so he took care of me. People could be rude right to our faces, asking nosy questions about why a grown man was dragging a little kid around with him, but he didn’t care what other people thought. I suspect that part of my free-spirited nature today is because of my early upbringing with Dad.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry you’re feeling under the weather, and I hope you feel better soon. Wish I could stay and praise your egalitarian attitude, but I’ve got to go prepare a fresh batch of hummus, load the dishwasher, feed the cats, and then fold my laundry. (“She” is asleep, and I don’t want to wake her, because she, too, is also under the weather.)
    Great post, as usual, Allie! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorry to hear that you’ve been ill and hope that you’ll be better soon. I’m in total agreement with you about the fathering issue. My husband is much the same as yours. I don’t know when it became the exception and not the norm. When I’m by myself I have been asked whether my husband is babysitting. Babysitting? They’re his children too!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Amen sister. I know it’s slightly different but I feel the same. Just because I carried out son doesn’t mean my partner gets to slack. Oh no. I expect her to pull her weight. And the thing is I know plenty of women who don’t it’s just societies self imposed double standards that make us think it’s ok when it’s not. I won’t allow my son to think he gets a free ride either. If he chooses to be a father he had better bloody BE one.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My husband is from an older generation to me, so his views are quite old-fashioned re gender roles. I’m not a mother of young children anymore, which means it’s not quite such an issue as it might otherwise be, although I do suffer moments of frustration from time to time. At least he’s happy for me to pursue my writing, just so long as he gets his dinner on time!

    Did you know that at the time of the suffragettes, it wasn’t just women who didn’t have the vote, but a high percentage of men, too? Only the privileged few were deemed fit to go to the ballot.

    I hope you’re feeling much better now, Alli. My sympathy is with you, as I’ve had two bouts of it this winter, and am entering the Spring feeling very weak and wan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can be more forgiving of older generations, tradition being tradition and all, but I hope that they can still be open minded and understand that just because something used to work one way doesn’t mean that is the only way (or even best way) it can work in the future.

      Thank you for the reminder that voting rights were once tied to property ownership. Voting continues to be a privilege we should always appreciate as well as exercise.

      I am feeling better, but much better would be a stretch. It has been a long winter for me as well.

      I hope the Spring is easier on you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This was an interesting post and contained a lot of food for thought. You’ve got me wondering what level of greatness my wife would attach to my fatherhood. I’m not sure I’d get a rating of “outstanding,” but I’d like to think I’d be at least a few rungs above “deadbeat.”

    Liked by 1 person

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