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An Ode to Mother’s Day…I Can Do Anything Better Than You!

I hate to admit this one, but I really do need to confess. Last night, after a discussion with my dear husband of near 25 years, I secretly, in my head, envisioned a scene from

when the male and female stars sang-argued, “I can do anything better than you…”

In fairness to my husband, it is not true in that I can’t do everything better than him; there is a LOT that he is great at, and far exceeds my abilities. In that moment, however, I certainly felt like I had it all figured out. Fortunately, I did not say that out loud, but the ego certainly was doing a happy dance.

MIKE: Yes, I’d rather not relive that conversation. She might not have been singing out loud, but that smug look on her face, for “being right” certainly said a lot that I did not want to hear, in singing or any other form of prose.

As a family that lived in the reverse of tradition -- my husband was the full-time parent to our four kids while I worked a professional career outside the home -- I have always been careful to reinforce the masculine traits in my spouse. While society called him, Mr. Mom, I reinforced that he is my husband and an awesome dad to our crew of kids. Trading a briefcase for a diaper bag and buying feminine products for teenage girls take a strong man to face all others who would not do the same.

MIKE: While “Mr. Mom” does not bother me as much as some of my fellow at-home dads, I don’t hear people calling women “Ms. Dad” when they mow the grass, play catch or do any other traditional “male roles” around the house. It is a double standard.

As our children reached the teen years, and the girls learned the meaning behind the word and label of “feminist,” I also stressed with them that I support women, but not at the expense of men. I told them that we all have a role to play, and God gave us each unique talents. They even witnessed, firsthand, that their own father got way more nurturing genes than me. The family joke is that unless someone needed to be hospitalized, Mom made the kids go to school; dad, on the other hand, was the go to person for tummy aches or fevers.

MIKE: While my wife is very compassionate and kind, there are certain things I do better at managing. She is so used to being on the go that anything and I mean anything that stands in the way of her to-do list is at risk, including any illness. This is compounded by the fact that she rarely gets sick. When I am down for the count with bronchitis, she roles her eyes, quarantines me in a room and carries on the house until I am back to myself.

There is one area, however, where I know I have more talent; that is in the area of parental or maternal instincts. One could argue, DUH, as maternal is in the name, but my husband was with the kids way more than me. Business trips and a demanding job took me away from the house on a number of occasions. (By the way, the evidence so far shows that he did a great job with them. I can only say that now, that it has been about 12 hours since that “discussion” we had.)

MIKE: Good thing she added that last comment. I am in total agreement that her mom instincts pay off 9.5 out of 1o times. I am just annoyed by the accuracy, and that she is working in advance of my thought process.

There is science behind maternal instincts. Only females can give birth and that triggers oxytocin levels that ultimately promote the formation of a special bond when mom holds the baby and is only reinforced during feeding; not to mention that the mom-child bond starts in the womb. Dad’s bond is developed more socially or externally, where mom has the advantage of internal and external bonds. Many men work hard at this bond, including my husband. For the most part, it is just more natural for women.

MIKE: I am really fortunate to know many men, both working and full-time dads who are really great with kids. We can’t birth them, but they are no less a part of us, whether we are families by birth or by choice. We chose to be involved dads. I would not trade that for all the business suits, meetings or glamorous travel in all the world.

This leads me back to last night’s discussion. I observed something about our child – something I have been saying for a while – and my hubby was not in agreement. This is NOT the first time we have had this discussion, and in the moment I was losing my patience. We had laid out an action plan maybe two three or four times with little follow through. I was perplexed that he couldn’t understand why nothing changed. I reacted with “DUH” written all over my face, which triggered his response…which then triggered my response and so on…

At one point, when we sat in the car in silence, I started singing in my head, channeling my best Annie Oakley voice, “I can do anything better than you can…. I can do anything better than you….” Good thing it was in my head because I don’t sing well, and it would have been adding fuel to the flame. After all, the matter was not life or death, and did not require hospitalization. Life goes on.

MIKE: First, I really don’t know or have the passion for show tunes like she does. They don’t play those songs on, my Major League Baseball SiriusXM radio station. Next, at that moment, I was already feeling like a chump, so any gloating or themes of her superiority would NOT have brought out my gentleman qualities.

There is one lyric in the song, after the two have berated each other on what they do better, when he says, “Well, I can’t make a pie,” and she says, “Well, neither can I…” Sometimes we find common ground in what we won’t or don’t do, versus what we do.

MIKE: Amen.

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