Regardless of what kind of mom you are — work at home, single, full-time career or stay at home — I think the majority of us can agree that being a mother is hard. And even when you are one of the lucky moms to have a partner that is supportive and helps out, let’s be honest…moms today still carry more of the weight when it comes to the kids, which is the way most of us want it.
That’s why I write so much about moms taking some time to re-discover who they were before they had kids — when we didn’t talk about bowel movements or the color of boogers (read my post about signs you need a girls trip here.)
But what about the men in our lives? The fathers of our children? The ones who sometimes pretend not to know how to take a rectal temperature or that the smell of a poopy diaper makes them gag. The dads who say they are scared to take their three toddler daughters to Costco for fear of losing one (true story.) The men who seemingly have no problem maintaining their workout routine, errands schedule or happy hours after having kids?
According to the two women I heard at the pool the other day, dads don’t deserve a guys weekend. “Every weekend is a “guys weekend” during the summer,” I heard the woman beside me say. “He golfs on Saturday and Sunday while I take the kids to church and now he wants to go to Arizona with his college buddies. What the heck?”
I get it. I really do. My husband travels for work quite a bit. One time his company rented out the Harry Potter portion of Universal. I felt really bad for him. Another time he got to eat at the famous restaurant Nobu in Vegas while I dealt with a case of pink eye and two book reports.
But truth be told, as much as those experiences were pretty cool for him, it did come with some guilt. And I know there are plenty of times my husband would rather be at my daughter’s first grade play then at a Hilton Garden Inn just outside Little Rock.
I think men — in general — are increasingly struggling with work-life balance. The desire to “be there” for their kids as coaches, cub scout leaders and homework helpers coupled with long commutes and 24/7 work expectations can make dads equally stressed and unhappy as moms.
Additionally, with more moms in the workforce than ever before, dads also now have more responsibilities. Activities such as packing lunches, house work, and after school car pools are no longer just for the woman in the house.
For me, going on a girls weekend is no problem. I see my kids a lot. Sometimes I would say even a little too much. It’s easy for me to justify why I need to get away.
But what about dads? Do men that travel and work long hours deserve time away from their kids and family?
I say yes, and here’s why:
+ Dads today are stressed. Men today face the same challenges women did in the 1970s and 80s. How can you be a good parent and a good employee? Men often are not given the same leniency as women when requesting time off for their children’s well-being, such as illness or school-related activities. Most men today want to be more than just the provider, but the 24/7 work environment makes that tough. Just like working moms, when a dad is at work, he’s thinking of home and when at home, he’s worried about work. Separating yourself out of that kind of stress-charged environment can be exactly the re-boot a dad needs to get back in the game of life.
+ Managing mid-life crises. While aging can hit a woman hard, hitting that mid-life milestone for a man can rock his world. Sometimes it just takes a weekend with his buddies to realize how good he has it.
+ Guys don’t share. Most men don’t call up their bestie after their boss yells at them in the middle of an important meeting. Or they don’t text their buddy to say: “Dude, I just found the most amazing pair of sandals!” It’s just not what they do. But they may share a sentence or two about how it felt to get passed over for that promotion during halftime or their fear for how their son who may be struggling in school while drinking a beer with their oldest friend from high school. And that sharing can get them through an entire year.
+ Remembering what it was like B.C. (before children). We moms always complain about how we lose our identities after we have children. I have to imagine men feel this a little bit too. Every night my husband walks into a house full of pony tail holders, barbie dolls and stuffed animals. He has sat through hundreds of Disney princess movies, worn rainbow loom bracelets and gets introduced to various American Girl dolls on a regular basis. Even when he started teaching his daughters his beloved sport of soccer, he watched them do it with tutus as uniforms and tiaras on their heads. And while I think he loved every second of it, I can imagine it must feel good for him to get around some testosterone for a few days that is not just at his office.
+ Quid pro quo. One of the biggest things we have worked on in our marriage this year is trying to stop keeping tabs on who has done more for the family. For a long time, this is how I saw things: I do all the cooking and cleaning and chauffeuring and coordinating and child caring. He spreads fertilizer and picks up our daughter from soccer on Mondays — if and when he is in town. Clearly not even in my mind.
For some reason women do not value their partner’s contribution as much as theirs. We constantly underestimate what men do such as time spent picking up something at the grocery store on the way home from work, fixing a bike, refinancing the mortgage or even the rare occasion they do the dishes. Thinking your husband doesn’t do enough is something you should work out together…not a reason to tell him you don’t think he deserves some time away.
But let’s face facts. I don’t feel so guilty taking my trip(s) if he takes one himself!
At the end of the day, life is for living. It is healthy for you and your marriage to have some time away to focus on yourself and strengthen your friendships. If trust or his behavior is what is causing you doubts about his going away, then those are issues you need to work on — and fast.
But taking one for the team and letting him have his guy-time. Well, you may just be surprised. He may even do the dishes when he gets back.
Do you encourage your husband to have some guy-time? Do you “let” him go on a boys weekend? Let me know in the comments below.