Louis CK did a PSA about being a father, and, specifically, how nothing else is as important as being a parent.
While I agreed, I made the point that Louie is divorced and has only partial custody. This doesn’t diminish him as a father, but I suggested that it might be easier to focus in on being a father when you know there are definite time limits. You know that you have all day tomorrow to yourself, to work, decompress, whatever.
On Opie & Anthony last Friday, Louie spoke about this very subject. They cover lots of topics in the first hour, bullies, meeting other parents in the park, punching other parents, and, of course, being a divorced parent:
(0:30)To me, the best thing in the world you can do is to have kids and then get divorced. Because then you really can do anything you want.
[Because it's the wife that's holding you back.?]
Yes, because with a wife, there’s bargains and compromises you have to make with pretty much every moment of your life… every moment it’s like, ‘Where are you going? Because I want to get out of here, too.’ Well, I’m just going for a walk. ‘No way, that’s not good enough, because I’d like to walk around too, so neither of us are going to get to walk around.’
He then stated how much better a father he was because of the joint custody arrangement. Attentive, focused, “all for the kids.” gets up early to make breakfast for them, and likes doing it.
And the “best” part about his arrangement? “I don’t have to answer to anyone… I don’t have to plan.” He describes how miserable it was to have to check in with his wife about plans, and, worse, how he had to constantly appear to balance the childcare or else there would be overt or subtle criticism, claims of unfairness.
When one of you is awake with the baby… the other one should be sleeping! So that you’re useful the next day! It’s like if you’re driving a car, you turn on the other one in the garage. As if your cars were married to each other.
This isn’t about wives– Louie’s wife would probably say the exact same thing. And I am not advocating divorce, but it seems that one of the biggest problems of modern marriages is the lack of a division of care, the lack of precisely defined roles, and a lack of clearly defined on/off times. And when the responsibilities are vague, you get miserable parents who feel they are losing their sense of self, and, probably worse, overparenting.