Do you know what I hate? When we set the bar reeeeeally low for dads. Like if they change a nappy or turn up at the school thing that one time, or get up once in the night they’re bloody legends. Absolute heroes. AMAZING. Cheers for any dad that is actually physically existing anywhere even remotely close to their child at any given time! KUDOS!
Don’t get me wrong, these are all good things. Fantastic things we can all appreciate. But I bet if a mum was to do any of that stuff, a lot of people would be all like, “So? That’s her job.”
I think we should expect equality, right? Like if a mum does all that stuff, celebrate her because parenting is hard! And if a dad does exactly that too, then praise him! But don’t expect more/less of one gender just because of what’s in their pants, FFS! It should be about love and involvement and labour division based on each family’s specific situations.
While the over the top praise of dads doing average parenting stuff is one side effect of setting the bar really low for men, the flip side is when we decide that men can’t possibly be doing a good job of it without the supervision of a woman. WTF. Some people even go so far as to think that a man must be doing something nefarious just because he enjoys being with his kids or takes them somewhere on his own to give their mother a break or heaven forbid let her get some work done!
This doesn’t happen to everyone, all the time. People tend to not bat an eye lid when Mr Unprepared heads out with just the Little Mister (6). The thing that’s really getting some old biddies’ knickers in a knot lately is when he takes our 11 week old baby to the shops too. Without me. Shock horror. Off he goes with a fully stocked nappy bag (that he packed really well himself), all the safety measures a good parent puts in place and a plan. Just like any half decent parent tries to do.
The kind of thing I do all the time when he needs to work or has a thing on or needs a rest. Because we help each other out.
Yesterday, we parked the car at the shops and I ran into Coles to buy a cooked chook (dinner of champions). Mr Unprepared kept the air con running, I wasn’t going to be very long at all, everything was fine. At some point, the Little Miss got cranky in her car seat (she’s a speed demon who likes to stay on the move). Mr Unprepared removed her from the seat and cuddled her in the front of the car. She was not happy about anything at that point so he did what any loving parent would do. Rocked her, comforted her and probably prayed I’d be back real effing soon. Babies cry. Parents try lovingly to soothe them with varying results. Whatevs.
While this was happening, a woman was sitting in her car looking across at my little family who had been left to struggle like sad orphans without me. She had no clear reason to still be there, other than she’d seen a man alone with his children and she felt the need to supervise with disapproving, wincing facial expressions that my husband could see very clearly (and I suspect she wanted him to). What was she going to do? Call the cops on him? Jump in and save the poor children at a moment she deemed fit? Just sit there and judge away because she had nothing better to do?
When I got back, the lady decided, oh nothing to see here, the mum is back. Thank goodness. Crisis averted. She literally started her car and drove off. WTF.
Mr Unprepared told me what had happened and I rolled my eyes. This was the second incident in the one week.
The first time, Mr Unprepared took our children to a baby warehouse type store. He was out and about with them so I could clean the house (trust me it wasn’t going to happen with everyone at home and boy did it need to happen). My son (who was very clearly with my husband) was asked, “Where’s your mummy?”
Again. WTF. Mr Unprepared was standing right there!!!
Apparently, some of the older women in our community seem to think that only mothers are fit parents. WHAT DECADE IS THIS, YOU MOULDY OLD MOLLS?
Mr Unprepared told me that he gets this a fair bit. People staring at him funny when he’s alone with the kids. Yet we live in a society where there are lots of single parents due to the divorce rate. There are lots of hands on dads these days (because it’s not the freakin’ 1950s). But apparently he’s a freak because he is capable of looking after a small baby. I suggested that maybe some people just have resting bitch face, others might be looking because they want to see the baby because people love looking at babies. But I get why he’s feeling a bit paranoid. I’ve seen the way he’s been treated. It’s ridiculous. Once he was given evil glares for showing our then toddler Little Mister (probably around 1 year old) affection at a park (hugging him occasionally – a kiss on the forehead). The judgy old woman didn’t know I was there with them so I witnessed everything. What was he supposed to do? Give him a half hearted slap on the back, old chap? Or a formal handshake? Was she scared he was going to do something unspeakable to him because he’s a man? Did she think he was just going to forget his son couldn’t do shit without a parent to hold him and just let him wander off the edge of the play equipment? We’ll never know, but that woman thought it was her job to supervise (and be seen supervising). FFS.
My husband is not babysitting and he does not need to be babysat. Any fuckwit who thinks this needs to rethink their attitudes. Poor excuses for men who give other men crap for doing the right thing by their partners/families. Old biddies who think men should not be around children. How can we help to create change if we buy into those outdated, sexist attitudes? I know there are abusers and predators out there who are overwhelmingly male. A degree of caution sadly needs to be taken in some cases. But when all evidence shows that nothing untoward is happening, let it go, you dickheads. Don’t try to stop the positive progress being made.
When men take on more of the responsibilities for child care/home duties, then this allows women the freedom to do their thing too. By supporting dads, we are supporting mums.
So next time you see my husband out with the kids, know this. I am probably busy doing something else that benefits my household. I might even be indulging in some much needed self care. Something that is important for all. Don’t be a shithead who thinks my husband can go and do his ‘man stuff’ (whatever that is) but I can’t go do my stuff. You’re part of the problem.
Also? My husband isn’t perfect. I am not perfect. Nobody is! Parenting is a crazy, ever-changing landscape! But we BOTH try pretty damn hard to be good parents and we are pretty well educated and capable. Save your ‘concerned’ judgement for those who actually deserve it.
Has this ever happened to you or a loved one?