We are simply acknowledging a simple truth: this job is really hard, and our wives have always made it look effortless. When working full-time, men leave the house for at least 40 hours a week and, in that time, our wives are civilizing the kids, feeding us all, and keeping the house organized. When our kids call for mom they are not trying to undermine dad. They’re just calling for an expert.
When we try to take over and run things, the house and the family actually devolve. The kids abandon all pretense of effective communication and simply grunt and growl when it’s time for another slice of pizza. Also, you’ve fed them pizza for the past four nights with leftover pizza for at least one lunch. There are clothes everywhere, and a family of raccoons is threatening to take over one of the bathrooms. One daughter is wearing pajamas pants with a Christmas gown, while another child is in danger of forming dreadlocks.
When you go out in public like that—with Punky Brewster and Rasta Junior—people give you a pass. You’re a man and you’re spending time with your kids, which apparently warrants praise in this day and age. Maybe the knowing mothers you encounter are simply aware that to even get out of the house you had to first do battle with the raccoon family so as to give the kids some toothpaste to spit out on the bath mat.