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Why My Wife Doesn’t Have to Be “Grateful” That I Woke Up With the Baby

We went back and forth for a while. She told me how she appreciated all that I do to help around the house, but she hated the way I acted like I was doing something really great, when in fact I was just doing what a father should.

My knee-jerk reaction was to get pissed off. I wanted to give her a list of other fathers we knew, family and friends, who still subscribed to antiquated notions of gender roles. I went to open my mouth, but stopped for just a moment, thought about my feelings, and realized it was best to leave before I said something I shouldn’t.

So I left for work without saying a word.

I drove to work angry.

I was 20 minutes into my 30-minute commute when I thought about the last time I had washed dishes. I’d assumed that I should be getting praise or a reward, and for the first time I asked myself, Why? I ate there, too. Then I thought about vacuuming the carpet, or doing the laundry, realized I had the same expectations about those chores, and suddenly I felt like a jerk. The understanding that Mel was responsible for home and child care was so deeply ingrained in my understanding of family and contribution that I’d placed myself on a pedestal for doing something as simple as helping my wife with our baby in the night.

By the time I parked and walked to my office, I felt really low.

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I called Mel from work, and told her I was sorry. “You’re right,” I said. “This is a partnership, and I shouldn’t act like I’m doing some amazing thing because I get up in the night. I’m going to stop.”

Mel was quiet for a moment. Then she said, “Thank you.”


**This post was originally featured on HUFFPOST.
Clint Edwards
Clint Edwards
Clint Edwards is the author of the humorous book on parenting This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things and No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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