Growing up with two brothers I always knew there were some major differences between the way men do things and the way women do things. You know, the whole “Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus” thing (which I’m pretty sure my mother had a copy of on her nightstand for several years in an attempt to try to make sense of it all).
Pre-kids, this male vs. female thing didn’t make too much difference in day to day life. I was the “multi-tasker”: jumping from one thing to the next, making dinner while simultaneously checking my email, listening to music, feeding the dogs, and tidying up. Paul was the “fixer” and the “get it done” guy. One project at a time, if there was a problem, yo, he’d solve it (to paraphrase my fave rapper, Vanilla Ice). We each took care of ourselves for the most part- of course there were tasks that were shared but Paul has always ironed his own clothing and I do mine. It works for us.
After becoming parents though, some of the differences between the male brain and the female brain became much more obvious. And so, I give you:
Moms vs. Dads: How We Roll
Mom: Car contains carseat, stroller, baby carrier, extra diapers, a change of clothing for Junior, a package of wipes, spare plastic bags just in case, and at least one Wiggles CD. Settings on the satellite radio: 90’s on 9, Kids Place Live, the Disney Channel.
Dad: Car contains a carseat. Settings on the satellite radio: CNN, Headline News, Fox News Network, ESPN.
Mom: If Mom is helping to cook dinner or is cooking it on her own she plans what Junior will eat as she goes. Some chicken might be seasoned with less spice, or a bit of cheese added to the vegetables so that Junior will eat them. If Mom is not involved in meal prep she is prepping Junior- washing hands, getting him into his chair, and tucking a bib or napkin around his neck. She sits down to eat only after preparing a plate for Junior with everything cut up into appropriate sizes. Is up and down from her chair several times to fetch more ketchup, rinse off dropped utensils, and refill the cup of milk. All meals are eaten lukewarm if lucky, mostly room temperature.
Dad: If Dad is helping to cook dinner or is cooking it on his own he says, “What is Junior eating?” If Dad is not involved in meal prep he comes into kitchen after being told dinner is ready several times. Sits down and enjoys his meal hot off the stove.
Mom: If Mom is cold, children are presumed to be cold and sweatshirts are forced onto them. Mittens and hats come out of storage the minute the outside temperature dips below 50.
Mom constantly monitors the temperature in the child’s bedroom. If it is warm in the bedrooms when Mom comes up to bed she will spend 10 minutes getting the window fan out of storage, quietly installing it while Junior sleeps, moving the pile of stuffed animals away from Junior’s sweaty head, and tucking the sheets just so over him so that he’s not too warm and not too cold. She will then get up several times during the night, checking on Junior each time and adjusting the fan, sheets and blanket as needed.
Dad: Dad is rarely cold. If he is, he puts on a heavier jacket.
If it is warm in the bedrooms when Dad goes to bed, he spends 5 minutes getting the window fan out of storage, installing it in the master bedroom, and shoving the bed comforter onto Mom’s side before going to sleep.
Mom: Packs for herself and for Junior. Packs bag of dog food to send to the in-laws with the dogs, along with written instructions. Packs carry-on bag with healthy snacks, a change of clothing for Junior, extra diapers, wipes, and small toys. Makes sure that Junior’s favorite movies and apps are installed on her iPad.
Dad: Packs for himself. No carry-on other than his wallet and a book of crossword puzzles.
Mom: Takes child’s shoes and sweatshirt off in preparation for security. Holds onto boarding passes for whole family. Takes off her own shoes and sweatshirt and walks through security with child. Gathers everyone's items and puts shoes and sweatshirt back on child before putting her own on.
Dad: Takes off his shoes and sweatshirt and goes through security. Gets his shoes and puts them on.
Mom: Apps on iPhone include Facebook (for sharing the funny things Junior says), Instagram (for taking photos of Junior), Love to Count, Interactive Alphabet, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, Sprout Online, Tally Tots, and My Pregnancy Today.
Dad: Apps on iPhone include ESPN sports scores and Angry Birds.
Mom: Stealthily eats Easter candy in the dark kitchen while Junior is occupied in the other room. When Junior asks for candy before dinner she says, “Maybe after dinner IF you’ve eaten enough.”
Dad: Openly eats candy in front of Junior and then is surprised when Junior wants some. When Junior asks for candy before dinner he either lets him have it or says, “Um. What did you mother say?”
Mom: At the end of the day Mom makes Junior help clean up his toys, sorting them neatly into labeled bins.
Dad: At the end of the day Dad ignores the toys strewn all over. If they’re in his way they might get tossed into one large pile or shoved under the coffee table.
Mom: Leaves house with Junior, extra diapers, a change of clothing, bags of fruit snacks and mini boxes of raisins, a sippy cup with water, hand sanitizer, reusable grocery bags, and a list of things she needs.
Dad: Leaves house with Junior and his car keys.
Mom: Shows love for Junior by dressing him nicely, giving him tons of hugs and kisses, making sure his diet is well-balanced, and buying organic snacks and creativity-stimulating toys.
Dad: Shows loves for Junior by wrestling with him at night.
Now, I’m not sharing this list in an attempt to say that one way of parenting is right and one way is wrong or to say that women’s brains are more highly evolved than men’s (ahem). I'm also, obviously, totally generalizing here so don't get your knickers all in a bunch if you're a mom who eats candy in front of the kids or a dad who carries extra diapers wherever you go. I simply wanted to illustrate some differences that I’ve been noticing more and more lately the farther Paul and I get into this whole parenting gig, differences that don't make one of us a better parent or person than the other, but that show the difference between how the male and female brains work when a third-party (aka Junior) is added to the mix.
Anything I missed?