Masculinity and Monday Morning

Today is the first day of the new semester and my wife is out of town (she left at 4 AM). I rose at 6, woke up both my kids, snuggled them for a few minutes in my son’s bed, then went to the kitchen. I assembled breakfast for each, got my daughter onto the potty and had her brush her teeth. Nico went into the living room and listened to Nova Scotian folk music for a song or two, then I steered both him and his sister into the kitchen.

My daughter demanded chocolate milk and told me, “Mommy says I can have chocolate milk for breakfast if I want.” We debated this for a bit and agreed on dinner (I think she meant this kid nutrition drink). My son wanted to jump on our bouncy-house, which was in its bag in the mud room. In fact, he was sitting on the bag bouncing. I suggested breakfast instead, brought him to the table with tickling, and put a spoonful of cereal with his morning pills into his mouth. Then I made tea and ate some coffee cake.

After breakfast, I got Nico to the potty, dressed him (we had a dispute about which pair of shorts he would wear), made his lunch, my lunch, led a wild hunt for the blue polka-dot blanket my daughter wanted for school, got my daughter dressed, her hair brushed and in a pony tail, and put everyone into their shoes. At some point, I remembered to get dressed, but I honestly can’t tell you when that happened.

At 7:30, the three of us left the house and walked to the far corner to wait for the bus. Nico’s aide was there and, as the neighbor children arrived, my daughter played with one of her friends for a few minutes, before coming back to cling to me. Nico stood in line with his aide, and, mostly without help, climbed aboard the bus and walked to a seat, where he sat down next to the neighbor girl, H. Ellie and I waved, then walked back to the house.

Inside, we grabbed bags and a stuffed bunny, to snuggle, headed to the garage, and drove to pre-school. I dropped my suddenly shy daughter off (she’s in a new class today), kissed her, and headed off to work. After my day, I shall fold laundry, make dinner, clean the kitchen, bathe my children, and then try to get some writing done after they go to bed.

This quotidian litany is in no way spectacular. But somehow we still live in a society in which men cleaning, parenting, cooking, etc. is not quite masculine. It’s odd. I get a lot of praise for it, often couched in the terms of “my husband never …” or “I wish my husband would …”

This is what masculinity looks like. For me, anyway, on this Monday. Your mileage may vary.

9 Replies to “Masculinity and Monday Morning”

  1. madtruk says:

    There are still days when I look down on the way to work and say: "Pants. Good job." And this is without having to get anyone but me and the occasional dog ready for anything. Having been in your shoes as house-dad (albeit for just one child) for a couple of years, I can honestly say it's just a ton of work that goes under-appreciated until something goes wrong. If that sounds familiar, you're doing it right.

  2. Teresa Kintner Gunderson says:

    Oh for a day when gender gets its intrusive little fingers out of every pie! That's a typical morning for most parents who are filling the "primary" role for the day, regardless of whether they are called Mama or Papa.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I don't know how "masculine" cleaning, cooking, and parenting is, but my limited experience tells me it's really hard work.

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