I want a subcontracting co-father

Remember that essay, “I Want a Wife”? Read it here. Judy Brady (Syfers) first read this essay to a San Francisco crowd in 1970 (story here). It begins like this:

Not too long ago a male friend of mine appeared on the scene fresh from a recent divorce. He had one child, who is, of course, with his ex-wife. He is looking for another wife. As I thought about him while I was ironing one evening, it suddenly occurred to me that I, too, would like to have a wife.

She goes on to say she wants a “wife” who will clean, not complain about it, and work her through school while also supporting the children and managing the household. The satirical essay was meant to be an indictment of restrictive and unrealistic gender expectations placed on women.

In many ways I have it easy as a man. Because of who I am, I am the beneficiary of white privilege and male privilege–among others, living in this country as I do. I can’t help this, so I simply hope I use such “privileges” for good. (If talk of white/male privilege doesn’t make sense to you, consider reading this article about the pay gap between men and women.)

I also think I have it easy compared to my wife. She’s been through three (count ’em) C-sections, two of which were preceded by much labor, and does all manner of things to make life work for all of us. She’s also playing point right now on middle-of-the-night baby meet-ups, and for that I’m grateful. I’ll never begin to understand the pain of childbirth. So I make that disclaimer upfront.

That said… I want a subcontracting co-father. I don’t quite “need a wife” (or, in my case, “need a husband,” which didn’t quite fit right for me). But just a little help around the house with some of my ongoing (and often unfinished) projects would be nice. Here are a few jobs that I’d contract out to anyone interested:

  • Poop and pee. Yesterday I changed poopy diapers on two children, and in the evening singlehandedly moved a couch out of the living room and onto the porch because our potty-trained child had peed all over it in the middle of the night (My bad–we were out of pull-ups. Also, sweetie, sorry if blogs still exist and you’re reading as a teenager.)
  • Air conditioner. We got two new air conditioners recently, and then one of the units pooped out on us (speaking of poop) a day later. I don’t need the subcontracting co-father to help with the return–I already boxed up the darned thing and sent it back to Amazon. I just need someone to whom I can farm out the task of opening, assembling, and installing the new replacement unit that came, and putting it in my son’s window… again.
  • Poop and pee, green edition. Ha. Poop is sometimes green when it comes from children, but that’s not what I mean. I wrote a couple weeks ago about cloth diapering. We’ve actually put cloth diapering on hold for the two-year-old, since that much laundry is impossible for us to do right now in the wake of a newborn coming to our house. But we want to go back to cloth.
  • Nighttime book reading (second shift only). I love reading to my children. It’s one of my great joys as a father. But I often fall asleep about 10 minutes in. (Okay, 3.) I just need someone to jump in and pick up the slack from time to time. Your cue is when I get punched on the shoulder and you hear, “Daddy, wake up!”
  • Manage car stress. We’ve had both cars in the shop the last month, and the day on which we have to make both an airport drop-off and airport pick-up, both cars are in the shop at the same time. I have all the records, and my mechanic’s name is George. Just make sure you’re in front of Google when he calls to tell you what’s wrong with the car, so you at least sound like you know what you’re talking about.
  • Take out the trash. Obviously. Warning: there’s poop in it.
  • Other duties as prescribed (by the children).
The pay is meager, but the fringe benefits are… incomparable. It’s a good thing my father is coming in to town this week.

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