Lowering the Bar

I hate being wrong. Unfortunately it happens more often than I’d like to admit.

MJ and I got into an argument recently. Normally I win these because, well, I fucking love to argue. I’m quick on my feet, I’m loud and I use MJ’s words against her quite masterfully. But a few days ago she caught me napping and delivered a right hook that sent me sprawling.

You see, I’ve been pissy lately. It’s a combination of financial woes, work stress, poor health and the daily grind that is raising a toddler. As a result I’ve been short-tempered and unpleasant to be around. So when I snapped at her for no good reason she told me to relax. But a few minutes later when I verbally lashed out at Will for something trivial, then she started letting me have it both barrels.

She told me I was miserable. That I was making her miserable. That I’m never happy and because of that, no one’s happy in our house.

Truthfully, I knew she was right. But I wasn’t about to tell her that. So I launched into my defense strategy. Unfortunately it was pretty half-hearted and weak. I couldn’t refute the fact I’ve been in a bad mood or that I’ve been snapping at people unnecessarily. So I tried to divert attention from the problem. Here’s my ill-advised argument to MJ:

“You know, I can’t believe you’re criticizing me right now. You ever think I’m in a bad mood because you’re constantly on my case and you’re never satisfied? I take Will to daycare everyday and I pick him up. I start dinner. And look, I even did the dishes and cleaned the kitty litter before you got home. I don’t have scientific evidence to back it up, but I’m pretty sure most husbands and fathers don’t do as much as I do. Maybe you should consider yourself lucky that I’m as involved as I am and get off my ass!”

Right away I recognized my tactical error. And I knew she had me.

I always preach about how dads need to step up and take an equal part in parenting, and the importance of making that the norm. I’ve launched into countless diatribes on these very pages complaining about how low the bar is set for men and fathers, and how it’s incumbent upon us to raise it without making it seen like some monumental undertaking.

Yet there I was, my verbal diarrhea spewing at full throttle, bragging to my wife about how I’m meeting the minimum requirements and telling her how lucky she is that I’m even putting forth any effort at all.

Game, set, match.

Just last week I got all high and mighty because a national media outlet started a whole section for “involved parents,” but called it “Mom’s Corner.” I sent an e-mail to the decision-makers calling them on the carpet for their narrow-mindedness. I told them there are plenty of dads who do the “Mom stuff” like cooking, cleaning and taking care of the kids. I directed him to my blog and the countless other involved dads I’ve come to know in real life and on the Internet, as proof of a societal shift that places men and women on equal footing when it comes to parenting. I shouted about equality from high atop my soap box.

I guess it was too high, because the fall is smarting.

Maybe it’s a good thing, because the minute you get complacent or start patting yourself on the back is the time when reality kicks you in the ass. And I can still feel the boot.

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4 thoughts on “Lowering the Bar

  1. I always say that one of the best qualities a person can have is being able to admit when he/she is wrong. Congratulations on that. One thing of advise though. As Patriots fan, I assume you know your stuff pertaining to the NFL. Well, try not to use the phrase “The bar is high.” Marty Morningwheg used that in his opening press conference as the Lions head coach. You know how that has turned out right? It’s still used mockingly in these parts. Keep up the good work, and I’m sorry the Pats didn’t get to Dallas this year. Maybe next year they will go all the way. Oh wait, there probably won’t be a next year as the idiots in charge of the union and the owners are going to deprive us of NFL football.

  2. Well done you for being an involved Dad. Everyone has bad moods and off-periods, your wife sounds cool, I’m sure she’ll forgive.

    As the fiancee of an involved Dad, I know I’d rather have him involved and sometimes grumpy than uninterested and pleasant!!!

  3. I can relate because I have been that guy. In fact I am the guy who told one of the moms at school that she needs to get new batteries for her silver friend or alternatively tell her husband that he is not getting the job done. And now you know why diplomacy and I are often at war.

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