Matthew Jelalian: Happy Mother’s Day to all the different types of moms out there

May 12, 2019

My wife belongs to a couple of mom groups on Facebook.

Usually, most of the posts consist of women helping one another make up a new, ridiculous name for their son or daughter that nobody will be able to spell or pronounce.

But every once in a while, there will be a serious post about parenting. The ones I find most interesting are the ones that feature bad dads.

For example, recently there was a story of a man who refuses to change or bathe his daughters because he thinks it’s inappropriate for a man to do that. There was also a man whose toddler broke some expensive electronic device, and now he plays favorites with his kids to punish that child. Then there’s the obligatory husband who thinks he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for “babysitting” the kids so the wife can have some time to socialize with her friends.

To be clear, these groups contain thousands of women, and most of the posts aren’t about crap dads. That being said, these stories are common enough to surprise me with their frequency.

More is expected of dads now than before. Gone are the days of pacing the hospital lobby floor, sucking down cigarettes, waiting for your wife to finish giving birth in another room. Now we’re expected to hold a leg during birth, attend soccer games and be emotionally open with our family.

But this is a far cry from the parenting work women have to do. There is no unspoken Instagram or Pinterest competition to out-Dad each other. Nobody asked President Trump how he would balance being the father of a young boy while being President.

That stuff doesn’t happen to men. But it happens to women.

A wide variety of women, with an even wider variety of interests, personalities and skill sets are all expected to be these super moms to their children. Some of this pressure comes from less-than-stellar husbands, some of it comes from church, some of it comes from the neighborhood and some of it comes from other women.

But nonetheless, these women are still expected to perform. Maybe part of the reason why women tend to handle it so well is that they have to. Men don’t. You see men leave spouses and children all of the time.

I’m just thinking of three women in my life. There’s my mom who has been married three times (two left and one died.) There’s my wife who outworks her whole department and brings home college-graduate money without a college degree. And there’s my mother-in-law who’s her era’s raging feminist, but my era’s conservative housewife.

All three of these women are very different. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some of these they’re aware of, and some of them they aren’t. They’ve all had their own difficulties.

But none of them have ever “left for five minutes to grab some smokes” only to never be seen again. They’ve all stuck around and tried to be the best moms they could be.

Since it’s Mother’s Day, I’d like to give a shout out to all of the different kinds of moms out there for trying their best.

I’m wrapping up paternity leave, and I don’t know how stay-at-home moms do it. In my head, stay-at-home parenting would be the easiest kind of parenting, because your focus is on two things, your kids and your home. You don’t have to carve out a separate eight hours for work on top of that.

But boy, has parental leave taught me otherwise. I have a newborn who can’t be put down without screaming like he’s on fire. And my 2-year-old has declared a holy war on anything in our home that costs five dollars or more.

Not only that, but staying inside with the kids all day is so draining. I swear if I have to watch another episode of Blippi, I just might gouge my own eyes out with my son’s Sesame Street toys.

I’d also like to mention working moms. You not only have to deal with all of the crap at home, but you have to deal with work-related problems as well. Sure, you get to go talk to adults, but it’s not like you’re having mimosas over brunch. You’re trying to get work done, so you can pay the bills that keep a roof over those ankle-biters’ heads.

And then there are single moms. I don’t know how you do it. I’d rather do anything besides do this whole parenting thing by myself. You’re the real MVP and I don’t care how short of perfect you think you are.

Lastly is all the moms who have a hard time being a parent. To all the women who didn’t have examples of good parents growing up. To all the women dealing with depression. To all the women who got out of abusive relationships. To all the women who are still in those relationships. To all the women who couldn’t afford to take unpaid leave. To all the women who didn’t mean to become moms.

To anyone who feels like they’ve fallen short, thank you for sticking around and trying your best. I’m just sorry you get to celebrate by eating burnt toast in bed.