I'm tired of reading articles by fathers telling how they barely survived a weekend, or even just a morning, taking care of their children because Mom wasn't around.
What prompts grown men to publicly confess that they can't take care of their own offspring?
And what will children think?
Probably that dads are wimps.
Pieces about Dad as incompetent househusband appear in print about as often as columnists with holes to fill discover they have nothing to say.
Intended to be humorous, these confessionals typically follow a formula: The Little Woman went to visit her parents or go into the hospital or -- in modern times -- take a business trip, leaving Dad to star in a role to which he was not accustomed: Parenting.
Maybe someone (male editors, perhaps?) find such pieces amusing. I think they're condescending sexist claptrap. And I think the men who write them are wimps.
Often these fathers acknowledge in print that never before have they been solely responsible for the care and feeding of their own child. That's closer to criminal than comic.
If there's an infant at home, the hapless father usually explains his incompetence at the simple task of changing Baby's diaper without endangering life (Baby's) and limb (Dad's). Maybe that's why there's sticky tape on disposable diapers.
If the kids are older the theme shifts to dinner that ended up in the garbage, forcing Dad to brave the dangers of nighttime traffic to reach the fast food drive-through lane.
Sometimes the kids had to save Dad from trying to hard-boil eggs in the microwave.
There must be a market for these moans of familial incompetence because they recur with the regularity of dirty diapers.
The trouble with these confessionals is I don't believe them. I certainly don't want to believe them.
And if I'm wrong -- if the land of the free and the home of the brave really abounds with men who can't make formula or iron a dress -- I fear for the Republic. How can a nation of freemen who can't get their kids out the door to school expect to win the hearts and minds of Earth's peoples?
The implication of these pieces is that Real Men Don't Do Women's Work. They may be cast as one man's discovering that his wife can do things he hasn't ever done before. But the message I get is more along the lines of Boy in Man's Body Wants to Justify Making His Wife Do Unpleasant Tasks So He Can Avoid Them.
That's about as unmanly as you can get. How much macho does it take to hand your own baby to your wife so she can change the dirty diapers?
I got to thinking about this the other day when I came across another of these pieces. How, I wondered, did we create a society in which a father writes about parenting his own child as if it were an unusual event, as if it were not the norm?
This piece appeared in one of the local Yuppie-oriented weeklies that fill their news columns with mournful tales about how difficult it is to find a mate attractive enough (female) or rich enough (male) to adorn the front passenger seat of a BMW.
Looks and money are the logical values of my generation, the first to come of age since our parents and grandparents decided that commercial television would become our national religion, an electronic shrine in every living room preaching consumerism and the dogma that appearances are what count.
Now many of Earth's most dedicated disciples of things and looks want to replicate themselves and they expect that their children will be beautiful things, too.
A decade ago a young woman considering marriage upon graduating from Michigan State University asked my advice on whether her boyfriend would make a good father, especially since she wanted a large family.
I suggested she invite her beau to a family gathering to observe how he acted under the pressure of being the lone outsider in a house full of potential in-laws.
Once he seemed comfortable I told her to choose from among her infant nieces and nephews one that had just nursed without burping or who lacked diapers.
"Hand him the baby and be patient," I told her. "You'll learn a lot about his character."
Later she told me what happened.
When his plaid shirt got wet, he didn't just get flustered, he got furious and blew up. She didn't marry him.
My three sons know how to change diapers, just as three of my daughters know how to play baseball and the fourth will when she's old enough.
The other day I took care of my kids all day. We had a great time. We usually do. That shouldn't be news.