Gender Traitor? Guess What This Dad Wants for Father's Day

In many ways, our home is where gender stereotypes come to die. I'm a balding stay-at-home father with a Yorkie, so I've been making ego adjustments for many years now.
06/07/2013 09:45 am ET Updated Aug 07, 2013

This stay-at-home dad is tired and wants a new dishwasher for Father's Day. There, I said it. Now let me explain.

I have been waiting patiently for our dishwasher to break down once and for all. But its death scene will not die. The machine still works on about half the dishes per load, but leaves the other half covered in caked-on bits of grit that can only be removed by hand washing each dish. Some dishes even come out dirtier than before they were loaded. We have had the filter replaced, treated the hard water problem and made temporary fixes on the rusted basket. My Palmolive-softened hands can't take much more.

This topic is close to home for me -- literally. I grew up as the youngest of six siblings, and my parents could not afford -- or maybe just refused to buy -- an automatic dishwasher. So, regardless of gender, each child took miserable, weekly turns washing dinner dishes for eight by hand.

Such a story is "handy" when my own kids complain about their chores -- especially the one about loading the dishwasher rather than having to wash the dishes by hand! They laugh, however, when I tell them how I would fake some lower back pain or try to bribe my sister to evade the drudgery. I swear my fingers are still wrinkled from all that submersion. I remember standing at the kitchen sink in agony as I watched my buddies play "crazy tackle" football in my backyard as if accompanied by a "Time of Our Lives" soundtrack. That was wrong and still stings.

I acknowledge a new dishwasher is a luxury. Indeed, it's a luxury to be a stay-at-home parent at all. And since a dishwasher costs much more than my wife and I would usually spend on a holiday gift, I'm proposing we pool the resources that would have covered Father's Day and several birthday gifts to cover the cost. That's how sick I am of washing grit off glasses I can barely fit my knuckles into.

In many ways, our home is where gender stereotypes come to die. And the one about the primary caregiver (usually the mom) not ever wanting an appliance (like a vacuum) for a gift is no exception. I say bring on the appliances! Granted, as a male in the caregiver role, I don't bear the burden of gender oppression, which allows me the freedom to be as pragmatic as I'd like.

On the other hand, I suspect many women might welcome an appliance or two to make their jobs easier, as long as there are some other, more mom-focused gifts included with that blender. Probably most important are the levels of trust, respect, humor and communication in a relationship. The higher the levels, the safer it is to give a mate an appliance. (Note to male readers: try this at home at your own risk. I'm just sharing a suspicion. Note to female readers: am I way off-base here?) Or it may just be that when it comes to gender, I'm an equal-opportunity offender.

For some readers, this post might illustrate "what's wrong with this country and men today," both of which they might say are headed to an undesirable place in some type of basket. Whatever. Comment below or tweet me if you'd like. Call me a gender traitor. Call me the most politically correct man in the world (which I was once called by a very traditional man in a very awkward exchange). I can take it: I'm a balding stay-at-home father with a Yorkie, so I've been making ego adjustments for many years now. But this caregiving father still wants a new dishwasher for Father's Day.