I've come to appreciate motherhood as one of the great rewards of winning the XX chromosome lottery. But I was always a bit envious of the boys growing up. Not because they got to get dirtier, or play Little League or because they could pee standing up. No, I was envious because they had the chance to grow up to be dads.
It was always "Father" who knew "Best" in those black and white shows I watched, ad nauseum, down in the basement afterschool. And things did seem to go swimmingly for Kitten, Princess, Bud and the Beav with Dad at the helm. But these 50s sitcoms sure didn't give an 8-year-old girl viewing in syndication much hope of achieving anything beyond "better." Moms, while nice for a potential pot roast or sock darning, weren't exactly the ones dolling out sage advice at the end of the day. Eventually, some of my early small screen favorites found their way into color, but "The Courtship of Eddie's Father." "The Andy Griffith Show" and "My Three Sons" intensified my "fatherhood envy" even further--Mom was completely expendable in these widower-oriented shows.
But women's lib changed things. It changed lots of things, of course. But to this tube-centric kid the thing feminism seemed to change most was the Moms I saw on TV. Shirley Partridge got to cruise around in a totally groovy bus and play keyboards in the band. And while life wasn't always a cakewalk for divorcee Ann Romano, she and daughters Barbara and Julie seemed to do just fine "One Day at a Time." And as far as I was concerned, while probably not the best example of having "come a long way, baby," Carol Brady appeared the embodiment of "having it all" -- no professional career that I could ever detect but still got to have a full-time housekeeper and a butcher that delivered.
It seemed like media moms were finally coming into their own, perhaps at the expense of media dads.
So many of the dads on the airwaves in recent years--- Homer Simpson, Ray Romano and Phil Dunphy, to name a few -- are always good for a laugh. But they take a clear back seat to their wives when it comes to effective parenting. It's Mom who seems to know best. Dad seems to know nothing at all. And this just isn't a fair representation.
Even in the brave and somewhat-new world of on-line opining, it is the moms that are getting all the glory. It's mommy bloggers this and mommy bloggers that"we need more Dads to share their stories. I briefly considered asking my very insightful husband to sit in for the week. But the idea of a "Dada Madison" post sounded a bit too much like a Marcel Duchamp retrospective at the Chazen. So you're still stuck with me.
But I will use my time wisely, and request that this Father's Day we remind the dads in our lives that they are much more than the one-dimensional characters we see on TV. Remember to gift them with respect and appreciation, right along with that grill accessory or Home Depot gift certificate.
Sure, I see a little of Phil and Ray's "bumble" in my husband, but I also see a lot of Pa Ingalls grace under pressure, Ward Cleaver's wise words of wisdom, and Dr. Cliff Huxtable's way with a sweater. My kids' dad is more than just the yin to my yang; he's the Mike to my Carol Brady -- minus the perm, three of the kids and (much to my chagrin) the live-in housekeeper.
I have no doubt in my mind it's our shared approach to parenting that makes this family run (albeit not always) smoothly. Maybe I need to break out of my sitcom rut and turn to reruns of cop shows, like Starsky and Hutch or "Miami Vice", for "partnerships that work" guidance.
And, come to think of it, a pastel t-shirt and white Italian blazer would be a much more inspired Father's Day gift than just another tie.
How are you celebrating dad this coming Sunday? A "Father Knows Best" marathon, perhaps?comments powered by Disqus
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.