Daddy blogger Clint Edwards revealed he once felt he deserved praise for getting up in the middle of the night to tend to his baby, until he told that to his wife.
“I was chatting with my wife about the long night we’d had getting up with the baby, when I said, ‘At least I get up with her. A lot of men don’t. You should be grateful,’” Edwards wrote in an op-ed for The Huffington Post. “I was tired. And I said it like she was really lucky to have me. Like I was going above and beyond as a father.”
“It was just after 7 a.m. Mel paused for a moment, leaned back in the chair, Aspen sleeping in her lap,” he wrote. “Her eyes were a little red, and her brown hair was in a loose ponytail. She held the baby a little closer, and took in what I had said. I expected her to agree with me. We sometimes talked about the fathers we knew who didn’t get up with their babies. They viewed it as the mother’s job.”
Instead of agreeing with her husband, Mel responded by saying she wished he would stop saying that:
At the time, Mel was a nearly full-time college student, a mother of three, and a school volunteer (a requirement of our children’s charter school). She spent hours sitting at our kitchen table, hunched over a keyboard, a textbook to her right, and at least one child tugging at her pant leg. And despite her commitment to education, and how much I pitched in, she often commented on the pressure she felt to keep a clean house — not to mention take the children to the doctor, cook meals, shuttle the kids to sports and other extra curricular activities, keep them looking clean and healthy, and monitor their behavior in public. She was a student and a mother, and yet she felt an enormous pressure to be the sole caregiver of our children. And there I was, feeding into those expectations by mentioning my help in the night as if it were some generous extension of my role as a father.
Naturally, I didn’t think about any of this at the time. What I said was my way of trying to get her to notice my contribution to our marriage. As a father, I often feel like I’m really breaking the mold because I do pitch in around the house. If I’m home from work, I’m cleaning; I get up in the night and do numerous other things to help make our marriage a partnership. But for some reason I felt like I should receive special attention for doing things that have been, for so many years, seen as the mother’s job.
Edwards questioned why his wife didn’t appreciate what he said, because he felt he did a lot of things other fathers didn’t.
“Because it doesn’t make me feel like we’re in a partnership,” Mel responded. “It makes me feel like you want me to kiss your butt every time you get up in the night. This is your baby, too.”
The husband was upset and left for work angry, not reflecting on the argument until well into his commute.
“I was 20 minutes into my 30-minute commute when I thought about the last time I had washed dishes. I’d assumed that I should be getting praise or a reward, and for the first time I asked myself, ‘Why? I ate there, too.’ Then I thought about vacuuming the carpet, or doing the laundry, realized I had the same expectations about those chores, and suddenly I felt like a jerk,” he wrote.
“The understanding that Mel was responsible for home and child care was so deeply ingrained in my understanding of family and contribution that I’d placed myself on a pedestal for doing something as simple as helping my wife with our baby in the night.”
When he arrived at work, Edwards realized the selfish nature of his argument. He called his wife and apologized.
“You’re right,” he told her. “This is a partnership, and I shouldn’t act like I’m doing some amazing thing because I get up in the night. I’m going to stop.”
Edwards’ post quickly went viral, with many readers expressing their shock at the fact that he would ever ask for praise for doing parental duties.
“He should be grateful she didn’t give him a swift kick in the groin after saying that she should be grateful for his help. I would have!” one reader commented on Independent Journal Review.