February 22, 2021

“If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy.”

One year ago, a new father in Maryland made this post that went viral overnight.

So every time my daughter latches on to my wife’s nipple she makes this “Ah sh!t, this hurts,” face. I’m looking like…

Posted by Ronnie Dunston on Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Okay, funny right? And you’re probably applauding this guy for acknowledging his wife’s superpowers and admonishing dads to help out.

But guys, I want you to consider this:

Being a parent and an equal partner in your marriage is not a place where you “help out.” No one at your paying job is going to ask you to “help out.” The thing you should be expected to do is your fair share—at work and at home.

Mothers aren’t “magic.” We put in the work because there’s no other choice. We multitask because we have to in order to keep up with the changing needs of our family.

Dads—women need for you to step up your game, not put us on a pedestal.

And this doesn’t just apply to dads. I’m talking to all men who are in a living partnership with a woman.

We women are the CEOs of our homes, and it’s not by choice. Even in mostly egalitarian partnerships, who has a handle on everything and has to stay three steps ahead to make sure it is all well-orchestrated? Women.

Who notices just before the laundry detergent runs out so it goes on the shopping list? Who is proactive about making sure the kid has what she needs for her science project? Who creates the weekly menu so the family eats nutritious meals? Who notices when the toothpaste runs out, the dog needs food, and that plumbing project needs to be scheduled? It’s usually the woman.

Most women I know have had to literally “train” their husbands to be equal partners in marriage and parenting, but we’re still the executive officers. We still have to carry a large part of the mental and emotional load, and it’s simply exhausting. Honestly, we’re sick of it. We don’t want to have to ask you to “help out.” We want you to step up, notice what needs to be done, take the burden off our shoulders, and do your fair share.

This mental and emotional labor takes its toll. Imagine if your boss had to instruct you at every turn instead of relying on you as an autonomous resource. You’d never say, “Well, just tell me what to do.” You’d be fired.

We want to know how you can be so competent and self-starting at your job, but you seem to become a helpless child at home.

When I think about this, I wonder if it’s caused by the gender roles we teach our kids. I also wonder if it isn’t a little about privilege. Do men feel entitled to do less work at home? Do men think it’s okay to just rely on their female partners? Are we women being enablers? I think it might be a little mix of all of this.

So, how about we all start to do better?

Women, when you see that the toothpaste is almost gone, leave it for him to discover. Men, observe your wife. Get to know all the little details required for keeping your comfortable home running smoothly, then step up and do your fair share. In the end, you’ll both be happier.

This popular old southern phrase comes to mind, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

Believe it.

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