Recently at an event of my son’s I go the working mom question. Some of the other moms, a mixture of both SAHMs and working mothers, were admiring my six layer rainbow cake. One mother marveled at the deliciousness of the cake (admittedly, it was really pretty and tasty and wondered how I found the time to do it while being a full-time teacher and mother of two. And somewhat biting and with a little dose of snark, she made the inevitable comment, “How dooooo you do it?” I laughed and went to my typical response, “I don’t sleep!” Laughs and chuckles all around as my little white lie reassures them all that I am indeed not any better at this mom business than any of them are.
Yet, the truth, the real truth, is the answer I gave my sister when she asked that same question, though with much less snark and more pity head shaking. I don’t do it. I don’t do it all. Never have, never will. The real truth is that I am part of a parenting team. I don’t do it. We do it.
While there are plenty of times in my life where I prefer to go it alone, parenting is not one of them. Parenting is tough, really tough. It takes an exasperating amount of energy which no one outside of toddlers themselves possess. It takes patience. Patience that Zen monks have because they are meditating on mountains while the rest try not to lose it. I would love to see those monks be patient trying to get my daughter out the door. They would be back up in those mountains in no time! There are days when parenting feels like climbing Mt. Everest and days where parenting feels like you are placing a flag on the summit (anyone who has ever potty trained their child knows all about this!). But just like climbers, and even those monks, no one gets there all by themselves.
Today is Father’s Day and I am very privileged to have my husband as a father to my children. Together, we do it. That cake got baked because he put the kids to bed. He packed their lunches for the next day while I packed ingredients into the mixer. He folded clothes he washed while I folded the batter. He arranged play dates and our upcoming calendar while I arranged Skittles into a rainbow on the top of the cake. He picked up my daughter and in-laws to attend my son’s event while I picked up my classroom at the end of the school day. Together, we do it.
Which brings me to the point- this question is not legitimate. We need to stop putting undo pressure on ourselves and other mothers to “do it all”. We legitimately need to acknowledge and respect the partners on our side. Dads do not babysit. They parent. Parenting involves all sorts of people and groups. Let’s replace the question “How do you do it?” with the question “How can I help?” Because let’s face it, parenting is tough. Let’s not making it any tougher than it already is by trying to go it alone or by leaving each other alone in our struggles. Together, we can do it.