This appeared in Mumbai Mirror.... on the eve of Mother's Day, it's time to give Fathers a break... what say??
It needed a seriously gutsy guy to break this particular bhanda. And has he broken it! Journalist Toby Young has triggered off a world- wide debate on men and babies, with his brutally honest views on parenting and the entire work-life balance jhanjat that plagues career people these days.Young has four kids under the age of ten. His wife expects him to switch gears at 6 p.m every evening and take over baby duties from her. These duties involve bathing the kids and getting them ready for bed. Young admits candidly he hates doing this! It’s tedious and boring, besides, he’d rather spend the same time working late at the office or hanging out with friends. He says it’s the same for women (his wife is a full time home maker) and most mums find childcare equally tiresome and difficult. But can never admit it. Which is why he goes along with his wife’s wishes even though he finds the whole thing ‘horrendous’! In addition to these delightfully blunt opinions he also points out that most men would rather spend time pushing personal career goals than changing nappies. What’s more, they really wouldn’t suffer from the slightest guilt! In his book, men really don’t worry about not getting enough time with their kids. On the contrary, they resent not having enough time for their careers. “ I don’t think it’s just me,” he states flatly, adding most men he knows don’t enjoy hanging with children. Young adds, “Call me a bad father…” Ummmm. Okay. You’re a bad father,Young!
I am sure countless Daddy Cools reading Young’s piece will agree with him and roar ‘Rah! Rah!’ I frequently observe young dads playing caring-sharing New Age fathers in parks and around swimming pools. They dress for the part, act the part, but their pained expressions give the game away. They really and truly look abysmally bored, as they try and soothe/amuse a bawling brat , or feed an obstinate toddler who spits out every mouthful. Yet, the pressure on this hip, studiedly trendy young dad is such that he dares not step back from daddy duties, even when all he probably want to do is bond with guy friends and swig chilled beer. Give these oppressed chaps a break, girls! See how sheepish they look with infants strapped across their manly chests ( only Hritik Roshan can carry off this look) . Agreed hunks with chunks ( babies) look pretty hot. And kiddos often make great arm candy/ fashion accessories ( better by far than the mini iPad). Even so, I notice there is a great deal of pressure on aak kal ke daddies to attend kiddie parties, organize play dates, get involved with pre-school activities, supervise homework, play football in the building garden, befriend parents of other brats, work on the kid’s extra-curricular interests, doodle, play games on the ubiquitous iPad , watch annoying cartoons with the kid for the umpteenth time, keep an eye on the fancy stroller, manage the myriad moods of temperamental toddlers and fussy nannies on holidays…. Oh God, a thousand other equally irritating responsibilities that didn’t exist a decade ago.
An older generation of dads had it much easier. They produced kids. And forgot all about them till the sons/daughters were adults. It was the mother’s sole responsibility to raise children. And uss zamaney ke moms didn’t have the guts to demand more participation from their husbands. Not even when kids were sick! I have heard fathers exclaim, “ God knows when these children grew up!” Today’s scene is straight out of a Woody Allen film. Not only are young dads expected to share bachcha responsibilities 50-50, the poor fellows also have to fake loving it. Wives insist on hubbies waking up for night feeds or jumping out of bed when the baby cries , quite forgetting the established fact that most men are stone deaf when it comes to hearing an infant’s ear shattering screams at 3 a.m. They aren’t pretending to be deaf, dear mums – there is a genuine medical problem! Accept it.
Mommies, let’s give Daddies a break. At least during the long hot summer. Let’s offer them a chhuti from bachcha duty. Instead, make them work hard in other areas which need their expertise much more. Like shifting heavy furniture around… going off to Lohar Chawl to look for electrical fixtures and bathroom fittings. Leave babies to experts – bais, ammis, daadis, aunties, naanis, nannies, nurses . Relax.It’s official now – hubbies and babies don’t make the best combo. Unless , of course, yours is the exception. Yawwwwn!