There are some clear differences between being a Mum and a Dad.
We could start with the obvious:
Noah didn't grow inside my body for 9 months.
He also didn't emerge from my private parts.
I don't happen to have breasts.
Each of those things means there is something between Sam and Noah that goes beyond the experience of parenthood I will ever have. Mysteries I will only ever observe in wonder.
The work, the labour, the sacrifice of a mother is sacred and precious and breathtaking.
It is so far beyond what I ever understood before,
and for that
I am all the more thankful for my own mother
and all the more grateful for the strong woman I share my life with.
We do not elevate this enough.
We do not honour this role enough.
We do not stop to think about,
be grateful for,
every fibre of body, spirit, heart,
sweat, blood, tears, milk,
hunger, exhaustion, emotion
that is poured into this everyday masterpiece of parenting.
It often seems like we expect mother's will just do this stuff.
And we frown on them when they don't.
at the same time as we fail to elevate, honour, and acknowledge Mamas,
while expecting them to just keep on giving the world
we demote and devalue Dads,
and expect them to be clueless.
We are not the least bit surprised if they are hopeless at changing nappies.
We chuckle at their inability to coordinate outfits.
We tweet and instagram #dadfails by the dozen.
We roll our eyes and sigh when Dads do dumb stuff...because, they don't know any better, right?
And when a Dad does something that is a normal part of parenting
like spending an hour or two with bubba, while Mum leaves the house for the first time in a week
the comments will be:
'Oh wow, how lucky are you?'
'Your husband is incredible!'
'Is he on baby-sitting duty?'
A few weeks after Noah was born,
we were at the shops, grabbing milk and bread.
a small, straightforward job
and he was agitated, crying,
doing the whole reflux thing
and another random stranger said to me
'He wants his Mum, doesn't he!'
and I thought,
Yeah, he probably does - and fair enough - I would want her too, given the option. But this is my son. I am his parent. I have been tasked with doing every single thing within my power to meet this human's needs, and if, for some crazy, out-there reason I ended up being the only one available to do this - and if he wanted his Mum but she wasn't around - WE WOULD SURVIVE. More than that. He would still have an appropriately clean bum, and good nutrition and stories read to him and songs sung to him and all sorts of care and love...and YES, IT WOULD SUCK BECAUSE HIS MUM IS THE BEST THING EVER, but that's not a fair copout for me to be an incompetent Dad!!!!!
Look, I know random stranger had good intentions. Her point even had some validity. Maybe she didn't deserve an inner rant directed at her. But I couldn't help but think about any single Dads out there who must hear this kind of thing from time to time.
And I know
- I began with -
I will restate:
there are some clear differences between being a Mum and a Dad.
But, they both carry this beautiful, significant weight.
They must both be approached with thought and action and heart.
They both begin from day one.
And I wonder if the way we think about these roles
leads to some very mixed messages
and all kinds of awkward cultural language and entrenched views
Mamas feeling dry and depleted after giving everything
Daddas feeling justified and acceptable for giving crumbs
It seems ridiculous that:
- Mums doing AMAZING parenting are viewed as NORMAL.
- Dads doing NORMAL parenting are seen as AMAZING.
And in a world so full of absent fathers
I wonder if the fact we seem to start
with such low expectations of Dads
has anything to do with this down the track?
I am generalising
but I don't think it's a stretch to suggest
we are angry when Dads leave
but less angry when they stick around and act like occasional babysitters
What if we are just delivering on poor expectations?
What if we expected greatness from all Dads?
In many ways
Sam and I are old school
I work for the single income that we live off
she cooks most of our meals and
spends more time with our boy
just because she's a full-time Mum, doesn't mean I'm a part-time Dad!
just because she's a full-time Mum, doesn't mean that she isn't capable, competent, intelligent, driven, and creative, all in her own right! She just happens to have chosen to give her beautiful mind, heart, time and energy into the private education of a student we are heavily invested in!
I commit #dadfails.
They are funny. I am awkward.
But, I am fully committed
to learning this role
mastering this role
spending a lifetime becoming the best, most committed, involved, present Dad I can be.
Because if my boy is blessed enough to have two parents,
he's going to have two parents.
Not a mama and a male babysitter.