Discover more from snarky memoirs
father's day, a day for resentment
an ode to partners who identify as he/him and can't find the kitchen scissors which have lived in the same slot for 7 years to save his first-born's life.
On June 1st, I started to get ads for father’s day gifts and see posts for gift guides for “the dads in your life.” And - prepare yourself - I hated it. I hate all of it. I am so triggered by every ad for camping gear, every gift guide comprised exclusively of tools, every shirt for dad that equates him to a super hero, every piece of art and custom-made book about how dad gives the best snuggles. I am not here for it.
DO allow me to elaborate, obviously, as this is a charged topic. And also please allow me to caveat before I begin: I am not hating on dads, nor am I hating on the dad in my life - that is, the father of my children and love of my life, my very own piece of man and man-piece. He’s a great partner, a true partner to me and for me, a loving father, a person without whom I would not and could not do the whole parenting gig. So like, it’s not about me secretly hating him or anything he lacks, it’s not about me hating my own dad or anything he lacks, and it’s not about me hating any of the other really great dads I’ve had the pleasure to meet and do kid life with in my community. This is just commentary on “super dads” and how it makes me vomit a little bit.
airing of grievances
So now that’s out of the way, let’s begin with the piece of “art” that sent me into a rage:
So many things to discuss, least of which (or perhaps, most important of which?) is how no one could ever play with these mini figs and that is the best part of a cool set of mini figs: the playing. Right off, I don’t like this because I just want to play with them and I know my Lego-loving husband and son would feel the same.
I am feeling the need to hedge again, like I know this is a simple gift, and it’s just meant to be cute, and uplifting for dads, for a man or men who work hard, because lots of them do, and just want to watch sports, unwind after a long day at work, whatever. But I really don’t like playing into this kind of stereotype: dad must be strong, must be cool, must be funny, must be smart, fast, brave, and tough. Does dad growl and have bulging muscles around his artificially enhanced skeleton as well?!
What about tender? What about compassionate? What about vulnerable? I think I’d rather have a man - and a dad for my babies - who is ready and able to sit on the floor with a kid in the throes of a tantrum and not also lose his shit. I want a man who is well-regulated and can handle the emotional roller coaster that is childhood and dealing with and loving toddlers, who are life’s most complicated psychopaths. Batman is so unregulated that he can’t even fight crime as himself! He hides behind a literal mask! The hulk is so strong because he loses control of his emotions and literally breaks things for an unknown amount of time until he magically calms down and/or ScarJo calls him “big guy” in that alluringly husky voice of hers and snaps him out of it. Like?! Duh!?!
do you absolutely dig this bullshit? become a subscriber to get it straight to your inbox!
but muscles tho
Funny and strong are awesome (and have I mentioned how much I love muscles lately? because “strong” in a muscular sense is my preferred cup of tea when it comes to males and all the forms they come in) but I want him to be brave with sharing his feelings, not prepared for the battle to defend his family or whatever the fuck toxic masculine message we are apparently still selling to our boys and men. Just do some laundry!Be emotionally available to your kid! Don’t lose your shit at the smallest inconvenience! Et voila: dream man for moi!
I don’t love standing around the playground bitching about my partner as a pastime, but I was commiserating recently (on Voxer! I will never shut up about Voxer and voice texts!) with a friend about our respective mans. Our situations and grievances were very different, and yet at the core of them, they ended up being more similar than at first glance. At the root of both issues, was the fact that women - moms - seem to adapt to having children on a physiological level. We’re attuned to our kid(s): hearing them cry at night, sensing when they’re sick, etc. I don’t want to get into the specifics of either of our stories, but suffice to say: evidence shows WE as the mothers are on top of our shit with these kids, and we are thusly carrying the emotional load of that. The men in our lives, meanwhile, are blissfully unbothered getting their 8 straight hours of sleep like complete assholes! So resentment builds, you could say.
hashtag not all men, obviously
I think this is my other beef with Father’s Day. Take this reel by one of my favorite content creators, who creates flawless mini plays on life with a boomer mom. It’s obviously satire and it’s funny because it’s so accurate, with quotes like “Did you just put the kids to bed? Get out of town! You are one amazing father.” And it’s also sad because these women who see men in this light raised US to see these same incredible victories in the absolute bare fucking minimum of male participation in the family unit.
My friend said something like how she’s tired of us celebrating our men for “all they do” when, if you have a “great partner,” that means he carries like 30% of the family load vs. your normal useless father figure who does maybe 10% and that’s IF you have a lawn to mow. It’s hard to have a resentment-free celebration when he will “take the kids to give you a break,” meanwhile you don’t actually get a break because there are still so many things to be done that he doesn’t even really know about, except for if you don’t do those things and then everyone notices and wonders what’s up with you.
Don’t even come at me for men being breadwinners and “that’s their contribution,” because at this point in our awareness of society and gender roles, we all know that the amount of money you contribute to your household doesn’t exempt you from other duties, functions, things to do inside the family unit like picking up your own fucking dirty socks etc. We know that the amount of money we bring in to the household doesn’t equate to our value to the family unit (this is one I struggle with personally but deep inside I know this sentence is factual!). Money making doesn’t absolve you from knowing where the diapers are, knowing what food your kids like, knowing what’s up with school, caregivers, hobbies, sports, bedtime routine, sickness, sleep issues, swim lessons, friend groups, interests, family dynamics.
So yeah, I’m tired. Of celebrating “amazing dads” who maybe aren’t actually that amazing??
catch-22 or whatever
I still feel warm fuzzies when I see a man wearing a baby (a man wearing a baby! can you even!), pushing another kid in a cart at the grocery store - no female companion in sight. I still want to give this man a high five. I want to give an extra smile to the man I saw this morning at a coffee shop with his 3 kids, corralling them to stay at the table, eat their drop biscuits with jelly, not spill his coffee, not bump into too many other patrons. I want to give him words of praise and I want to send like “good for you” vibes to the wife he might have, who is doing whatever she might be doing but NOT with her kids! What a victory for her! Does she work or is she at home sick? I’ll never know but I’m thrilled for her, fictional as she might be!
Obviously all of these men with kids and no partner in sight don’t all have wives at home, I hope y’all know that I know that. But you can see my point, right? Even if this man at the coffee shop is a single dad, even if he’s got a husband who’s at work instead of a wife, the point is: I have been trained to be impressed by this! He’s such an involved dad! He’s such a GREAT dad! Why!? Because he’s there.
Meanwhile, I still am battling the urge to ask every mom from preschool if she works and if yes, what does she do that she’s still so flexible, and if not, did she used to work and does she miss it and how many other kids does she have? Does she want more? How will she “handle it all” with more? As if she knows, as if I know, as if we both don’t know that handling it isn’t a thing. As if this extra data is needed to justify her - and me, and all of us, being at preschool pickup in the middle of the fucking day, nary a Y chromosome in sight!
It’s the “working mom” vs. the “dad.” It’s the “dad’s watching the kids while I go get a pedi on Saturday morning,” vs. “dad’s gone golfing.” It’s all of us asking where the kids are when we see moms out and about without them. My favorite thing to do when asked this, by the way, is to gasp in a very dramatic fashion: “OHMIGOD, THE CHILDREN!” Then make like that Forrest Gump meme, as if I really did leave them somewhere, forgotten little urchins.
who are the real heroes?
So back to the superhero merch. I think what it comes down to is twofold, or perhaps it’s not folded since I gave up laundry and I was the only one who folded jack shit in this houseso now it’s just two things which are in a ball on the floor:
1. where is the MOM superhero merch?! I AM THE ONE who is brave, tough, didn’t faint at the birth, didn’t lose my shit after the 89th episode of Mickey Mouse Funhouse (or I did lose my shit, but then I apologized and took deep breaths and changed channels to Daniel Tiger instead). I AM THE ONE who is smart, fast, and also fucking hilarious. So where is MY superhero present?! How come I just get a plant - another fucking thing to take care of, by the way - a precious handmade card, and breakfast in bed so I can “sleep in” meanwhile the kids are screaming bloody murder downstairs while I “relax in bed.”
I sound like a grade-A asshole saying all of this, obviously, but I’m trying to make a point, ok?
2. I really enjoyed my donuts in bed on mother’s day this year and I obviously treasure the adorable drawing my 4-year-old made me, but so much of what us moms do is so invisible, and feels so impossible to make visible even, and it’s hard to deal with that when celebrations of us are compared to our celebration of the dads who simply walk through the door and we all throw confetti and his favorite beer and 4 hours of his favorite sport - alone, or better yet with his best friends - at him.
Like we couldn’t possibly be more grateful. Couldn’t possibly ask for more. Couldn’t possibly have gotten any luckier with any other golf-loving man with halfway decent biceps and corny jokes he’s passing down from his father.
is there a solution orrrrrrr
So, you hate me now, eh? Snarky memoirs gone too far? You think I’m a monster? An unfeeling biotch? Maybe. This has been brewing in me for a while, exacerbated by those infuriating father’s day gift guides comprised exclusively of multi-tools and drill bits, brought to the surface by my insistence on consuming patriarchy-centered or -adjacent documentaries and books, which typically center around the audacity of one or more middle-aged, unqualified, white men, probably with small dicks.And as a result, I am triggered by every.tiny.thing. and blame men for all of it.
Except I DO love men, mine in particular. I AM lucky we found each other, and I AM glad he’s the kind of person I can talk to and work these balance, equity, emotional load issues out with. I DO feel grateful that so many women in my life are supported by wonderful partnerswho happen to be dudes, and carry a great deal more than 30% of the load of running a house with a family inside.
And I’ll be bold too, and say, even those guys who are here for the sperm contribution and making of money and mowing of lawns but perhaps not much more: they deserve to be celebrated too. Maybe they deserve our jokes and memes and and good talkin-to, also. A little re-education, perhaps. Couples therapy. But there is such thing as wanting more and simultaneously celebrating what we have. That might be the only thing I CAN say with certainty about marriage between a man and a woman: there is so much nuance and duality. I love what I have; I want more. I love what I have; I need a break. I love my man; he annoys the shit out of me. I love my man; I will commit mariticide if I have to answer “what’s for dinner” one more gd time.
And, importantly: if I had the confidence to bet money on stuff, I’d bet our next credit card payment that my own man-piece would say all these things about me, too.
We are all doing our best, with the tools we have access to, aren’t we? Don’t I tell myself this on a regular basis when I lose my cool, feel inadequate, less than? Don’t I tell all my friends this when they are struggling? Don’t I tell this to my son to teach him resilience? And why should it not also apply to fathers of all sorts and levels of involvement?
…but also why am I the only one who knows what time swim lessons are and where the goggles are and where the pool towels are kept and how long it takes to get there like get a grip ugh.
I just finished reading all of what I’ve written and after adding and removing and editing and such for over 2 hours, I’m now feeling like I shouldn’t post this at all. People are going to think bad things about me, people are going to think I don’t appreciate my spouse, people are going to think I’m unjustly belittling him in a public forum, people are going to think that I THINK we shouldn’t celebrate dads because all men are useless!
But what I really think is this: if YOU THINK any of those things, you didn’t read carefully enough. I’m simply tired of pretending like the bare minimum is ok, the bare minimum is all we get, the bare minimum is better than what our moms got so we should just be grateful. The bare minimum is the best these men can do because poor men, they have other, harder responsibilities to bear on their broad shoulders, such weighty expectations like heroically saving us from some mysterious foe, they couldn’t possibly deal with a grocery trip on top of all that! And so we, little women, could not possibly ask for more of them, more than this time they give us. More than this love they give us, in the form they choose to give it to us, with the limits they impose.
Is there a call to action? Maybe. I’m not here to dispense marital advice though, so no. I’m just here to air my grievances and be a snarky bitch! Men are the worst; I can’t get enough! If you want mire fodder, I’ve gathered some links, comical and serious, mostly comical:
That twitter thread about men not wanting to do laundry
A comical and rage-inducing look at weaponized incompetence, as displayed mostly by straight men.
The rest of the boomer mom series on instagram
Gut busting flips on weaponized incompetence on instagram (plus other vids on flipping misogyny, and reverse cultural othering)
Wanna air your grievances in the comments? Try to do it without shitting all over your partner, but also feel free to shit all over your partner because this is a safe space! For non-men! Oh and also, I guess happy father’s day? kbye!
I’m sorry this is absolutely not true in my house at all, I am taking copious liberties to beat the point home. MP has excellent folding skills and even uses them without being asked or prompted, on a regular basis because he’s awesome. He doesn’t read these but just in case I really do need to clarify this point.
Again this does not apply to my man, I am simply pandering now, ok? If anyone fainted it was me, from the drugs, and the shock, and the trauma to my uterus, but he stood tall and firm, I assume, idk I was fainting, remember??
Once more want to clarify this is not me ragging on my own partner, it’s more of a general lament. Men are the worst, and we love them. It doesn’t make sense but it totally makes sense.
I feel like if men could or would be honest about dick size, we’d find out all bullies and assholes either have small ones, or are otherwise self-conscious about it, idk this is a totally other topic so I guess I'm just dropping a dick-size hypothesis here for us all to chew on. heh.
One of my neighbors has said that we’re “obsessed with our husbands” and I love this. MP drives me bonkers and also I am obsessed with him, yes.
because this is the kind of marriage I have