Mothers have a very different mindset to fathers, don’t they? Very, VERY different.
This is how it works, as far as I can tell. Mothers have been told by society to take the burden of everyday nurturing. So we worry about everything from haircuts to whether shoes fit properly. We rush around washing and tidying things and wondering whether everyone’s getting their five a day or whether their development is stunted. We over-analyse our parenting and beat ourselves up for not being able to finish a sent—OMG WHAT IS THAT STAIN?
Dads, however, have a rather more relaxed attitude to parenting. Society has told them that as long as they come out of the pub five minutes before the birth and don’t drop the baby on the coffee table, they’re automatically in the top 10% of the best Dads in the Universe.
So Dads - who are great, by the way – do fatherhood however the hell they like. They throw their children into the air, merrily bashing their head off the ceiling. They take them out half dressed with toast crusts embedded into their hair. They fall asleep in front of the telly while their toddler does electric socket maintenance with a pair of kitchen scissors.
And somehow, mysteriously, it all works out fine. Nobody gets hurt, and everyone has a good time.
Now, of course, I know that every household is different. Some dads are get-up-and-go hygiene fiends, who can make a packed lunch and recite the Gruffalo while relaxed Mum lies in a bath strewn with rose petals, smoking a cigar. But let’s face it, most of the time, Mum’s gone to Iceland and she’s contemplating knocking herself out with a value pack of frozen burgers to end the burden of responsibility for 2 glorious, concussed minutes.
Here are just a few areas in which Mum attitudes and Dad attitudes differ. Feel free to add your own while glaring forcefully at your partner.
Dads clean, but in very different ways to Mums. Mums do lots and often. Dads either take charge of everything or wouldn’t notice a pile of washing up if it crawled out of the sink and bit them on the knackers. Mums in the latter camp are probably reluctantly in charge of the constantly sinking, stinking household. You could go on strike, but he wouldn’t notice, and you wouldn’t be able to stand the mess, because motherhood has turned you from a housework-hating slob into an OCD lunatic.
If Dads like and WANT to clean, though, it’s a different story. Then, they spend the entire weekend upending the house and the garage and reorganising every nail, paper clip and molecule. Meanwhile, you have to evacuate with the kids before you’re asphyxiated by Febreze.
Dads laugh in the face of danger. While you were worrying that your kid will fall off a small wall outside your house, Dad’s strapped that kid to the back of his racing bike and is scaling the north face of the Eiger with only a Fruit Shoot and a Dairylea Dunker in his rucksack. Dads aren’t averse to risk when they’re at home, either. Remember that three-week-old hummus at the back of the fridge that now has a face? He gave that to your child while you were out.
Dads don’t have to worry as much about how they’re perceived by the rest of the world. Basically, if they don’t leave the baby in the road, they’re on a winner with all the clucking grannies and unsolicited parenting critics out there. And somehow it makes them more attractive, too. Hot single ladies swoon at the sight of a deranged, sleep deprived Dad holding a baby in a papoose. Meanwhile, you look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, the opposite sex avoids you as if you’re covered in radioactive slime and everyone is more than happy to tell you you’re doing it all wrong.
If you were to slice a Dad’s head in half (oh, and it’s tempting sometimes), his brain would probably be divided into very simple and separate compartments – sex, food, sleep, sex, work, sex and a small bin at the back full of facts, football fixtures and his login for Netflix. But a Mum’s brain is a mad henhouse of screeching to-do lists, anxieties and recriminations. ‘I had a BISCUIT yesterday even though I’m on the Paleo/No sugar/Low GI/Points diet!’ ‘I forgot to do her homework with her, I’m such a terrible Mum,’ ‘ WASH THE GYM KIT TOMORROW! DO IT, YOU IDIOT!’ ‘Why am I so knackered? Am I ill? Will I die and leave the kids? I don’t want to die. What if I have a heart attack? I should never have eaten that bloody BISCUIT.’ Etc.
So yeah, Mums and Dads have very different approaches. And that would be fine. Except that sometimes, even when you work 24 hours a day fulfilling your child’s every teeny weeny need, they still prefer Daddy - who is currently on the sofa drinking a beer and doing absolutely eff-all.