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Jewish World Review June 17, 2003 / 17 Sivan, 5763

Betsy Hart

Betsy Hart
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Consumer Reports

Differences between mom and dad | Father's Day has come and past. So what did dads want most of all in honor of all they do? "A hug," finds a poll by Parenting magazine. That's what 26 percent of dads said they would like, though it was closely followed by "time alone" at 23.5 percent.

Well my husband is received both of those things for Dad's Day. We'll soon all be on our way to Chicago together to visit my family there, but he'll return home after just three days while the four kids and I stay behind for another week. In other words, he'll get his big hugs and then his time alone --- seven days of it.

I return home with the kids on Father's Day itself, June 15. This is how I know there's a difference between men and women: His friends - though happily married themselves - are acting like he won the lottery.

"A whole week to yourself? Wow,' " they say. They're envisioning his freedom to come and go as he pleases, his total lack of responsibility in terms of any "honey-do" list, the action movies he can watch at his pleasure, the fact that there will be NO DIAPERS to change or children to pick up from birthday parties at some gymnastics place he's never heard of 45 minutes away, for seven full days. And that's not to mention the unending rounds of golf he can play.

OK, so maybe the reality won't live up to the fantasy (I hope it doesn't). But I do know that no matter what happens various wives are actually feeling sorry for the guy, offering to have him over to dinner with their families so he stays fed and cared for.

I can only imagine the reverse. My friends, who would probably think sending the kids off with a husband for a week was pretty strange to begin with, would be saying, "Oh, are you going to be OK without the children? Won't it be lonely?" "How will he be able to handle them without you?" And no one would be offering to make me a meal.

(For the record, my husband and I have together left the little ones for a week, and I did survive with aplomb.)

But here's another way it would be totally different: When I get on that plane to return home without my husband but with our four little ones, most of the other passengers will be downright irritated. They'll vaguely mutter to themselves that with that many kids I should have driven wherever I was going. No one will offer to help. "That'll show her," they'll think. They will breathe incredible sighs of relief when they realize we aren't in their row. And If the almost two-year-old dares to cry - which I will, for the record, do everything possible to prevent - I'll be shot death-stares meaning, "Didn't you know better than to have a baby?"

Ahh, but if my husband were to walk on that plane without me and with just one little one, much less four, he would be positively feted. What a wonderful, sacrificing, devoted dad, the other passengers would think. My husband would be continuously asked, "Can I hold this, do that, handle thus-and-such for you?"

I know this is true because it's exactly what happened the last time I flew to Chicago with the older children and my husband followed me out later with only one of the little ones.


And anyway our return trip will follow a week of me trooping the little ones here and there around the city with barely a door being opened for us.

Oh well, I guess the other way to look at all this is that people must be thinking, "She's a mother - of course she can handle it."

Meanwhile, one of the things moms want most, besides a long bath, Parenting magazine says, is two hours of uninterrupted, snugly reading time with our kids.

That wasn't exactly a top ranking item on the "dad's" poll.

Yes, there are differences between men and women, husband and wives. "It's ever thus," as my mom would say. "It's pretty good," I would say.

I hope my husband doesn't have too much fun next week. I have an idea he'll eat several pizzas, play a little golf, watch a few action movies - and miss us a lot.

But I suppose that will make it all the sweeter when he finally picks us up at the airport on that Sunday and we say. . . "Happy Father's Day!"

Not a bad plan, if you ask me.

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JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


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