Yes, My Family IS Better Than Yours

I had a very pleasant Twitter conversation today about I Don’t Know How She Does It, that film that came out today starring Carrie Bradshaw. Er, Horseface. Er, Señora Too-Skinny. Sorry, that’s maybe mean, but it stays.

Quick aside: Carrie Bradshaw rhymes with Terry Bradshaw, that marvelous QB of Steelers fame. Awesome.

I saw a preview of this film– which it appears is based on a book by a woman named Allison Pearson– last week and cringed for 97 seconds or so. My skin crawled. And the book is apparently critically acclaimed. I submit that those critics are idiots and you don’t want their acclaim for your book, if, that is, the movie is true to the book.

My Twitter friend has read the book, it appears, and she referred me to a very good summary of the movie.

How could you possibly critically acclaim a book that places zero value on a woman unless she fills every stereotype known to man and that lets the guy off easy? One stereotype: she was too tired to have sex with her husband. You know what? Instead of wanting sex, her husband should have freaking well done the bloody dishes and maybe even tucked the kids into bed.

I’m going to reveal something personal now, so beware. Not tooting my horn, but I AM tooting my family’s horn. Because they’re better than yours and you need to know why. I cook on weekends. I do the dishes pretty much every day. My oldest boys trade off vacuuming every day. Everyone has at least one daily chore, even the 3yo.

I cook and clean. I make sure kids do their jobs. I do laundry. (I’m the father. It bothers me that people are still surprised by what I do in the home. I have several friends who do much the same– and more.)

Hotness and I smooch a lot. I look at her and can’t help but feel… deeply attracted. She is beautiful and smart and good and I respect her for who she is, her work ethic, her discipline and lots more. Apparently she finds me attractive too. Because we smooch a lot. I could go into details, but with both of us pitching in around the home, engaged in each other’s lives, and engaged in the kids’ lives and issues, we have more energy.. for other stuff.

Anyway, thinking about this issue of how women are subject to certain value judgements has really highlighted in my mind how important it is that I make sure I support Hotness in what she does. I DO know how she does all that she does– she does it by having her priorities firmly in place and by filling the lives of those around her with love and by not being in it alone.

I mean seriously, it’s 20 freaking 11. The days of fathers who see it as their job to bring home the bacon and then warm a chair while the wife cooks the bacon, cleans up after the bacon, and feeds the kids the bacon, are long, and happily, gone. Father means a heckuva lot more than the guy who got a woman pregnant. At least it bleeding well should.

So my family is better than yours, according to that film discussed. Because apparently most families are barely held together by a mom who is so frazzled and off balance that she can barely think straight. And, according to that film, a woman only has value if she is ambitiously pursuing a career while raising two (2! hah!) kids. She has to be seeking it all. Or she has value if she’s been in the corporate world and sees it as an empty world and forsakes it to move her family to the country and cut herself off completely.

A woman who creates a home- which is fine if it is messy or not- and who works closely with her husband to raise kids who are on the path to becoming responsible and wise adults, and who is satisfied with that and has and sees no need to work outside the home– this kind of woman has no value? She is to be judged as less than a woman whose life is going in all directions?

How about the woman who is married but has no kids and is actively pursuing an ambitious career? She and her husband find great joy in sampling exotic food, traveling when they can, and spending time together. She has no value because she has no kids? What do you know about why she doesn’t have kids? Who the *&^%&! are you to even judge that?

How about the woman who DOES have kids AND a career? She also uses day care or a nanny. Is her value more or less than the other women?

What a STUPID question.

It’s like women can’t win– even despite (or perhaps due to?) the feminist movement. You know what kind of movement we need in our society? One that I would call the ‘Stop and Think’ movement. Or the ‘Clam Up’ movement.

Let’s make a deal: I will look past my knee-jerk judgements if you will do the same. Or maybe I’ll just do it anyway.

But my family is better than yours because we are a team. Our home is not messy, nor is it pristine. It’s not cluttered with countless belongings, nor is it spartan. We all pitch in and we love and even like each other. We spend time together- both in the home and out. We try new things together. The kids are real people with real personalities and they are delightful and and frustrating and sometimes my heart breaks for them.

Truly though, my family isn’t better than yours. But they’re MINE. I am blessed to live with my seven favorite people on this planet.

Your turn. Why is your family better than mine? What problems do you see with the value judgements and expectations we put on women? How can we change the way pop culture sees and depicts fatherhood?

About jaredgarrett

Jared Garrett is the author of Beat, a YA scifi thriller, and its forthcoming sequel, both published by Future House Publishing. A new series, debuting in January 2016 and also published by Future House, kicks off with Lakhoni, a fast-paced rescue adventure in a world reminiscent of Aztec culture, to be released in January 2016. He self-published Beyond the Cabin, a novelization of his childhood in a cult, in December 2014. Both Beat and Beyond the Cabin were Whitney Award nominees, and his story Song of the Wind, received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. In addition to writing, he's spent fifteen years in adult education and is an accomplished public speaker and workshop leader.
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