Friday, June 13, 2008

It's a tie at best

From almost the dawn of time until the 20th century, the basic household ritual stipulated that men hunted and gathered while women nested.

It wasn’t always that way. For a brief time, women hunted and gathered, too. At least until Eve picked the wrong apple. Then Adam relegated her to menial duties of childbirth and the kitchen. (Isn’t that why history is “HIS story”?)

Settle down, ladies. I’m joking.

Women bolted to the workforce in a huge way during World War II. My mom quit high school to be a Rosie the Riveter during WWII. Three decades later, 43 percent of the nation’s women were employed. Today – with more than 60 percent of the female population (ages 16 and older) working – the two-parent household usually means two parents are employed. And when the day is done and both of you have come home after a long day of work, it’s mom who’s (usually) expected to make supper, do the laundry, clean house, bathe the kids and still look fabulous.

And when it comes to raising children, doesn’t the bulk of the duties fall to mom there, too? Sure, dad can give tips on hitting the ball, how to tell a lousy joke and impart that unique skill in watching a televised sporting event and know which referee requires an eye examination.

Empathy? Compassion? We’re not programmed for that. But we can grunt in 15 different pitches and tones to express varying emotions.

We can criticize, correct, cajole and carouse with ease. But offering a kind word or positive encouragement is like a foreign language.

Mom at child’s baseball game: "Good job honey! You almost hit the ball!"

Dad at child’s baseball game: "Get your elbow up. Spread your feet. Watch the ball. Tote that barge. Lift that bale."

You get the idea.

Somehow, despite our shortcomings, there is Father’s Day. It seems unfair that we get the same one-day special calendar designation as does a mother.

So when a tie or coffee mug comes my way, I gladly take it. The way I see it, we dads are lucky to get anything at all.

(Note: Check out the National Fatherhood Initiative for far better advice than I can give).

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