Friday, September 30, 2011

A glimpse into my childhood (or why my dad is better than yours)

My childhood started out much the same as many others: both parents were working so I went to day care.  That may be where the similarities end.  My dad quit his job at the University of South Carolina and became the stay-at-home parent when I was still a little girl.  It was UH-may-zing.  I wouldn't realize until many years passed how odd this was for the times.  But there he was--chief cook and bottle washer.  And he thrived in that role. Sure, he took me to story time at the library and he took me with him when he went to the grocery store.  I also went with him when he worked our polling place, when he went to the hardware store, and wherever else his daily errands might take him.  There were also plenty of quiet mornings at home, with him listening to NPR's Radio Reader and me coloring, or playing or "reading" to myself.  When I was old enough to go to school, it got even better.  My dad would make us super lunches and he was a chaperone on field trips.  So what if your mom was there--my DAD was there!  In second grade he volunteered to be the homeroom parent, and was turned down--they wanted a homeroom MOM, not a homeroom DAD.  I'll never forget that.  He handled our problems at school, though I am sure the teachers he encountered wished he hadn't--the man had a magnificent vocabulary and could rip you a new one and you would thank him for it, not realizing what he actually said! 
It wasn't until I was nearly 8 that I realized my family didn't work the same way as everyone else's. Silly me, I just assumed all dads did the cooking (and laundry and grocery shopping, etc). Everything in our house was equal-opportunity: whoever saw that the trash was full emptied it; he who cooked did not clean; everyone helped with laundry. It was also around this time I first had Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for the first time: what was the obsession with this strangely colored pasta dish?  It certainly wasn't the mac and cheese I was used to.  (Recipe coming soon)
I am sure it never occurred to my parents that they were helping me choose my spouse with this arrangement. But that is just what happened.  I love spending time in the kitchen, especially baking and prepping for large gatherings of people.  But my work schedule just doesn't allow that right now.  Lucky for me, I married someone like my dad--a man who can hold his own in the kitchen.  Joe and I also take turns dealing with the children, taking out the trash, and doing dishes and laundry.  By no means is our system perfect (whose is, by the way?), but it works for us.  And I have my forward-thinking parents to thank.

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