Portraits of the Patriarchy
Father Time examines the progressive shift in modern fatherhood
My father had this notion that dinner should be on the table at the same time each night. He’d often reference one of his co-workers, Marlene, who would tell her own family that dinner was served at 6 pm every day. Either you were there to eat it or not.
In protest, my father would often open a can of corn, heat it on the stove top, and then eat alone since he was ready and no one else was. Many times, he wasn’t there anyway to eat dinner. He was either at the gym, on the campaign trail, or “working late,” as most men used to do. Who knows? Maybe he was over at Marlene’s where the food was on the table.
Fast forward to my home, and I’m in charge of dinner. I make the grocery list each week, and I go out and procure the food. Long about 4:45 pm, even when I’m on the road coming home from a long day working, I’m asked, “What’s our dinner plan?”
I don’t have dinner on the table at exactly six o’clock every night, but I am consistent in preparing my family’s meals. I also do all of the family’s laundry. I have a pretty good system going, and I’ve pledged to never do more than one load a day. My father, incidentally, did his own laundry and no one else’s.
My wife and I divide housecleaning about 50/50, and childcare is another even split.
Sound familiar? Hopefully it should. Today’s men aren’t kick-our-feet-up-smoke-a-cigar-and-read-the-paper kind of men when we get home. It’s right to work when we walk in the door. Granted the “Mad Men” man still exists. He’s out there working hard, living one whole separate life on his own. He smokes and slicks his hair back, and his wife does his bidding. This man might even be you. If it is, enjoy your rank.
If it’s not you, and you’re an “in the trenches” kind of husband and father, thank you. Thank you for having dinner ready and for folding the laundry just so. You’re still the rock in the turbulent sea. You’re still the hero. You’re still the man. So, go ahead. Be the man.