I’ve been hearing about sleepaway camp for as long as I’ve known my husband. I’m pretty sure it came up on our first date. Why? Because my husband describes it as the defining experience of his childhood.
He believes it allowed him to grow and change in ways that would never have been possible without those 4 weeks away from home every summer. As he describes it – at summer camp, he wasn’t defined by school labels or parental oversight. He could be anything he wanted to be.
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When you have a lot of kids, people do a lot of counting. They look at your crew of children, count them up in their head and then say, “Are they all yours?”
So it was pretty typical when my husband and I were out to lunch recently and a woman leaned over to inquire whether we were indeed responsible for all these children hanging around us. But then she said something I didn’t expect.
“Wow. 5 kids. That’s a lot of children to take care of. Actually I should say you’re taking care of 6!”
“What do you mean?” I asked. (Oh my gosh – Am I pregnant and this woman has some kind of maternal intuition?! Please no!)
“Well, your husband too.” she said, laughing.
I knew what she meant. She meant my husband was my 6th kid.
“No, he pulls his own weight,” I said. “In fact, he’s an amazing dad.”
I’m going to give this woman a pass since she was older and I’m guessing she grew up in a time when dads literally didn’t touch a diaper. And because people are prone to saying dumb things to strangers (myself included). But really, why is there still a tendency to treat dads like bumbling idiots?
Way before I had kids, I remember taking a trip with one of my best college girlfriends. I naively asked her, “Who’s taking care of your daughter? Is your husband babysitting?”
Now my friend was very quick to clarity that dads don’t babysit. They parent. Noted. And once I become a parent myself, I completely understood what she meant and why she had made this distinction. Dads should be equal partners in this journey of parenthood.
But society still sometimes relegates fathers to second class parents. Even though most dads I know are incredibly hands on, very responsible and have changed more diapers than they could ever count. And when we discredit the contribution made by dads, we do a real disservice to our children.
This doesn’t mean men and women parent in the same way. Nor should they. My husband and I are very different in our approaches. I can pack a diaper bag while making the kids breakfast while canceling a doctor’s appointment. My husband admits that would make his brain explode.
But he’s the one who gets the kids to school on time, grills Sunday night dinners and could play in the pool with them for hours. I last about 7 minutes in a pool before I’m shivering and desperate to get out. And this is in Florida. Where it’s like 100 million degrees outside (estimate).
Neither of us is a better parent. We just each have our strengths. And our weaknesses.
Like the time that I forgot to go to my son’s teacher conference. But somehow remembered to take a nap that day.
Or the time he forgot to give the children dinner. One of the kids reminded him that they were indeed very hungry and could they please be fed before bedtime.
But despite these parental missteps, we are doing our very best to raise loving, creative, passionate children. And I couldn’t imagine doing this job without him.
Like the other night – I wanted to get the kids into bed early because they had school the next day. My husband wanted to watch the last few exciting minutes of a NCAA basketball game with them.
The children stayed up. And even though I was a little cranky about it at first (because I was so desperate to have these children sleeping so I could get the house chaos under control), I’m so glad they did. Because they will remember that game and those moments with their dad for a very long time to come.
A husband wrote an email to his wife…
We need a new toaster.
She wrote back…
Why? Ours is fine.
It never goes off. You set it for 15 minutes and it stays on for eternity.
Eternity is a long time to cook toast. Why don’t we just unplug it?
We can try but we’ll never remember to plug it back in.
That’s true. And it’s very hard to toast a bagel with no electricity.
And the toaster also blew a fuse in our kitchen, causing all the outlets to stop working.
That is one high maintenance toaster.
We have the worst toaster luck. Remember the one that took 40 minutes to cook anything?
Or the time the girls set the toaster on fire?! I told them to go downstairs and get some goldfish which they though meant, “go downstairs, cook microwave popcorn in the toaster oven and accidentally set the kitchen on fire.”
This kind of stuff happens to other people, right?
Oh definitely. Go on Amazon and see what toasters look good.
I can’t. Too many choices. There should be once choice for which toaster to buy. Or there should be one endorsed by a celebrity. Like the Bradley Cooper toaster oven. Or the Tim Riggins toaster. Then it would be easy. I can’t handle 157 options. I’ll spend an hour reading customer reviews and then I’ll just log off without purchasing anything.
Okay, I’ll look. I’ll send you a link to what I like.
I really don’t care. As long as it toasts, I’ll be happy. But not too big. I hate when it takes up the whole counter. And make sure it’s a toaster oven. Not one of those old school toasters where you shove the toast in from the top. With two racks. And it should toast something in less time than 6 hours. Because that seems long.
I think this new toaster oven is going to really alter our lives for the better.
Oh yeah. It’s a whole new exciting chapter.
I voted this week in my state primary. This is voting. Florida style…
I took along my oldest daughter who asked, “Who are you voting for?” I told her, “Hillary Clinton. It’s time for a woman to be President.”
I’m not saying a person should be president based on their sex alone. Not at all. I’m just saying that when someone is smart and experienced (which I believe Hillary is) – and they also happen to be a woman, then in my mind – it’s time.
Maybe it will be Hillary Clinton’s time.
Maybe it won’t.
But I do know – that very soon – we need a woman (Democrat or Republican) as the leader of the free world. I want my daughters to see and really know that a girl can grow up in this country and actually become president. That it’s not some crazy unicorn dream. And when it comes to the wage gap, sexism in hiring and other gender inequalities, it could make a difference to have a woman in the White House.
Because I’ve noticed things as my daughters grow and so do they.
Like the day my 3rd grader got her picture taken at school. She watched the boys get up and the photographer asked, “What sport do you play?” and then the photographer would place the appropriate basketball or football or soccer ball in the photo with them. She didn’t hear them ask one girl. Not one.
Why should you assume a boy plays a sport? Why should you assume that a girl doesn’t?
There are incredible female athletes at our elementary school… gymnasts, soccer players, softball players. This sends a message to our girls. We don’t think of you as athletes. We don’t think of you as good at sports.
I still find lines in my kids’ storybooks that use the word “girl” like an insult. You throw like a girl! You know what I do when I see things like that. I take out the fattest black Sharpie I can find and cross it out. And I explain to my kids why I’m doing it.
And it’s the famous #LikeAGirl campaign that recently made us all notice something that we should have all noticed before… the lack of empowering emoji for girls and women.
Unbelievably, if you look at over 1,000 emojis, women are only showcased painting their nails, dancing, or being a bride. Oh wait, there’s also a women getting a haircut and two others that look like they are Playboy bunnies. Yay!!
As Amy Butcher writes in the New York Times, “Where was the lawyer? The accountant? The surgeon? How was there space for both a bento box and a single fried coconut shrimp, and yet women were restricted to a smattering of tired, beauty-centric roles?”
Just think about how often our daughters are having fun with emojis. And as they play, these images are seeping into their developing brains.
Which is why it’s so important to make girls aware of this and take action when you can.
I called the company that took photographs at my daughter’s school. And they agreed that it was sexist and ridiculous to be asking only the boys what sport they played. They promised to not do it again. I hope it’s true. If not, I hope another mom or dad will stand up the next time. And the next time.
Because our daughters deserve better. Because one of them just might grow up to be President.
My oldest daughter’s apps are killing me. How did this mother perish, they will someday ask? Oh, she just collapsed under the weight of trying to decide which apps were appropriate for her kid. Poor lady. I think it was Snapchat that finally did her in.
Pretty rainbow! Yeah, that’s an example of Snapchat.
Please head on over to Alpha Mom to read the rest of my post on Snapchat. I promise by the end you’ll have a much better idea if this app is a good thing for your kid right now. Snapchat has got some great positives and a few big drawbacks. Take a look.