Anyone who has navigated preschool drop off knows that it often requires as much strength and stamina as completing the American Ninja Warrior course. There are toddlers everywhere, rushed parents trying to separate from their children, and someone is often in tears (no comment as to who!).
Now try doing this all with a baby in tow, and it is that much more difficult. Think American Ninja Warrior with one hand tied behind your back. As moms, we have figured out how to tackle this task and we get it done. Sometimes we feel great about the accomplishment. Other times we are just glad to be on the other side relatively unharmed.
So when my good friend, Matt, recently made his first attempt at drop off with both his two-year-old daughter and newborn son, he knew he was in for a challenge.
Here is what he had to say about the experience:
“I walked into camp one week after my son was born with both kids by myself. I had one in each hand and my daughter’s unicorn book bag on by back. As I walked in, several moms applauded me for a job well done. The praise and admiration made me feel great as I walked down the hall to drop my daughter off. I really felt as if I had already mastered the dad of two kids thing. As I drove away with my son, I felt I could conquer anything. But then I thought about something.
Having done drop off for my daughter for several weeks before my son was born, there were always moms with at least two kids, if not more. These moms were loaded with strollers, car seats and bags, chasing kids down the hallway. But no one was praising or applauding them for their Herculean efforts. Any why not? I realized there seemed to be a certain expectation for moms. I guess that is because after all, they did bring these kids into the world, so we know they can do just about anything!”
While I very much appreciate Matt’s validation of how hard it is to bring a child into the world, it brings up a really interesting point. I, along with many of my mom friends, accomplish the extraordinary challenge of drop-off with two kids nearly every day (often twice a day if you count pick-up). Not once can I recall a pat on the back, let alone a round of applause. It’s not that I expected it, after all, this is part of my “job.” But don’t people get rewarded at their jobs for accomplishing something difficult? Just as Matt said, it almost feels like as moms there is an expectation that we are just automatically capable of handling things.
Now, I am in no way trying to devalue what dads do.
My husband often handles drop-off for Jack so I can stay home with the baby. And Matt deserves all the accolades he can get for bringing both kids only a week into double parenthood. That round of applause was totally warranted and well deserved. But why shouldn’t moms be applauded as well? It’s an important reminder of how hard we moms work every day, often with barely a nod of recognition.
Ever since our daughter was born seven months ago, I have been learning to juggle the responsibilities that come along with caring for a toddler and a newborn. There are many days when I feel I have it all together, but some days it is really difficult. It’s not difficult in an I-can’t-do-it sort of way. But, if we are going to be completely honest, it’s not easy to manage both a toddler and a baby by yourself. I would love to, on occasion, get the recognition that Matt got on that day at drop off.
So, to all the dads out there, if you are reading this, make sure you thank your wife for all of her hard work. Whether she’s a stay-at-home mom or works full-time outside the home, odds are she has put a lot of effort into making sure your kids’ day goes as smooth as possible.
And to all you moms out there, remember that what you do every day is incredibly challenging, and you are a champion for getting it done.
Consider this your round of applause. You deserve it!