Next up in our Runitlikeadad series is Chris Perillo, dad to three beautiful daughters, Parker, Cameron and Sawyer. Fiscal Manager by day, expert lunch-packer and household hero by night. Read on to learn more about Chris, his opinions, and how he believes Dads need to step up to the plate!
Two nights ago my wife asked me to stop watching World War Z on Netflix and look at a website with her. My immediate reaction was, “Really? Right now? Can’t this wait….I’m watching a super important zombie movie.”
It got worse. My wife opened up a popular swimsuit page. She asked me, “Which bathing suit do you think would look better on me? The one that provides extra stomach coverage or the one that provides extra thigh coverage?”
Ummmmm…My immediate internal reaction was to think of former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry’s infamous quote (spoken when he was busted for smoking crack): “Bitch set me up!”
Just minus the “bitch” part (of course).
Talk about a no-win situation. My wife used Italian sounding words, like tankini, to describe some of the bathing suits. I did my best verbal gymnastics when I told her which suit I thought would look best on her. There is never a right answer when your wife asks you such a question.
Do you want to know another no-win situation for many husbands and wives? It’s the division of parental/household labor. It used to be so
easy straightforward. The husband worked; the wife stayed at home and took care of the kids and household responsibilities. Then more wives starting working, but the parental responsibilities pretty much stayed the same: the wife handled the majority of it.
Sarah and I both work. At home, we pretty much split the parental responsibilities and are about 60/40 (ok, really 70/30) on household duties (with her doing more). Sarah and I made a decision before we ever had children that we would be true partners in this dizzying adventure called parenting. I believe the hip term ‘equal parenting’ is used to describe this situation.
Although we don’t always hit the 50/50 ratio square on its head, we come pretty damn close. Sarah is a better cleaner/organizer, so I drag my ass out of bed early in the morning to prepare the kids breakfast and take care of our puppy’s business. I make a mean French vanilla yogurt with blueberries! It’s a balancing act of give and take, but I’m always aware that we are both working professionals, and because of that, I don’t get a pass on helping around the house and playing a present and active role in the parenting of our children.
The strange part is, to me anyway, equal parenting feels completely normal. I have learned to properly condition my daughters’ hair, fasten hair clips, match leggings with the appropriate tunic, and I pack a top-notch lunchbox lunch (mad props to the string cheese!)
The best part about equal parenting is that it has allowed Sarah and I do more stuff. That’s a win-win situation. For example, some nights I feed the kids dinner, give them baths, and put them to bed. (Now that sentence was pretty easy to write. Actually doing those things for three kids five and under—not so easy. But it’s also not rocket science. YOU JUST HAVE TO DO IT.) This allows my wife to get in a 5 mile run and go to book club (i.e., Prosecco drinking club). Other nights she takes on the load, which allows me the opportunity to watch the Game of Thrones season finale and drink some beers with my buddy (we are way cooler than that just sounded.)
I’m often out & about with my three girls too—to the library, grocery shopping, softball practice, to the mall. No mom with me, no grandparents helping out. If Sarah is expected to do these things—why shouldn’t I? They are my children, and at the end of the day it’s my responsibility to take care of them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m nothing special when it comes to handling the fair share of family responsibilities. My wife and I made an agreement, we started things equal out of the gate, so now I’m used to doing the tasks that I should be doing as a parent. I have also noticed that a lot of the guys I hang out with have also taken on this role as an equal, and it’s encouraging to see.
When I do meet the (increasingly rare, in my experience) “traditional” stay-at-home mom, and “worker” Dad, I sort of look at the wife and husband the way an anthropologist would look at an extinct species; I’m really not sure what to make of it. Yes, I must admit some days it would be nice to play the Don Draper (minus all his baggage) Dad role and scoot out of the house avoiding any part of my children’s morning routine. But I must admit, I do smile when I get a shout out from Mrs. M (my daughter’s preschool teacher) on the awesome outfit I coordinated for my four-year old and how it just so happens to coordinate with my new Vineyard Vines belt. Big-ups for the Big-guy!
Are you an equal parent? Embrace your parenting role. I think equal parenting leads to a win-win scenario for both parents and their children.
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